One of our aims at Global Health Next Generation Network (GHNGN) is to help each other out in the transition from academic to a professional career in global health. We all come from different backgrounds, whether it is your educational or work-related background or your geographical location, but we all have a similar aim: working in global health.
Finding the right career path that leads to a job in Global Health (GH) might be challenging. Therefore, we at GHNGN find it important to share our stories with you regarding our transition from university to work life. To reach our aim, we would like to start to publish weekly pieces from our board members. The purpose of these blog posts is to share our studying and career stories with you.
So please stay tuned for the next weeks, read our member’s stories, and we hope these tips, shared experiences and our examples can help you in finding your own path to global health.
This week’s story by Niina-Maria Nissinen:
Who are you, where are you from, and what is your role in GHNGN?
I’m Niina-Maria Nissinen from Finland and I’m the news coordinator at GHNGN.
How did you learn about the GHNGN?
When I started to study a master’s degree in Public Health at Lund University, Sweden, I realized how global the field is. I wanted to connect with other students/young professionals interested in global/public health and I started to look for global health organizations, targeted for young professionals. Through my network, I found GHNGN in 2015.
What is your current job/study position?
I graduated from Lund University in the summer of 2017 and currently I work as a research coordinator in Finland. I work on a research project that focuses on alcohol and/or drug exposure during fetal life and how that affects the developmental outcomes of children.
What career path did you follow (bachelor, MSc, PhD…)?
I have a bachelor and a master’s degree from the University of Oulu, Finland with a major in Regional Development and Regional Policy. At the beginning of my university studies, I realized that I was not pursuing the degree I wanted. Luckily, with minor studies in health and social sciences, I was able to study subjects that match my interests, which at the end lead to an interesting and unique combination of subjects and a degree. My passion for health sciences made me to pursue a master’s degree in public health, which was the right decision. I’m thinking of pursuing a Ph.D. in the future, but let’s see if it is relevant to my career goals.
What is your secret when it comes to applications? (How have you found your jobs?)
One way to find a job is to contact the employer and ask about their current projects that might interest you and kindly ask if they have any positions available. You can offer to meet the potential employer face-to-face and discuss their opportunities and what benefits you could bring to the team. Be active and show your interest, and make it visible that you are looking for a job (in LinkedIn etc.). I also highly recommend to network and use your networks to find a job!
Another way is to apply though the application process and I would like to highlight some tips:
- Do your homework and read about the organization/company you are applying. Check what kind of work they have done previously, check their social media channels, and read the latest news on their website.
- Call the contact person and ask relevant questions and more information about the job. This way you get to know whether the job is something you find interesting, you get a chance to tell quickly about yourself, and the contact person remembers you and can match your application with your profile.
- Do not repeat your CV.
- Write the application letter for the employer and explain why you are the best candidate and what you offer for them. Do not explain everything you have done previously! Write an attractive start since the recruiter might not even read the whole letter!
- Use examples! Do not just say that you are motivated and social person (aren’t we all?), rather give examples from your previous work tasks.
- PROOFREAD! Ask someone else to read the application letter. This is a good way to check if someone else can match your expertise to the job advertisement + someone else has a fresh look at your application.
- Update your CV and match it with the job you are applying for (highlighting specific roles, tasks or achievements)!
- Update your LinkedIn profile! (And create one if you don’t have a profile!)
I also highly recommend looking for online tips regarding CV, application letter, and employer branding (e.g. YouTube!). I have also used an external recruiter to check the documents and asked for feedback! (You might view your documents in a different way than a recruiter!).
How does your current job/studies help you fulfill your ultimate goal/motivate you?
I’m currently working within my area of interest and I found the topic I’m working with really fascinating. Therefore, I’m really motivated by what I do at this moment. My ultimate goal is to start my own business so any experience and different perspectives and views help me to fulfill my goal.
Are you interested in something other than what you currently do?
What I currently do is something I find interesting and it is within my area of interest and expertise. In the future, I want to work in other organizations and in other roles in order to gain more experience and face new challenges. Besides research work, I would like to see how it is to work with health policy and policy advocacy, and also gain grassroots level work experience and work with people. In the future, I also want to work abroad.
What is global health for you?
For me, global health is the health of people on a global scale. As defined elsewhere, it is the work with health topics or health threats that transcend national borders such as the impact of climate change on health or the spread of communicable and noncommunicable diseases, for example.
What do you think your work as a GH professional brings to the global picture of GH?
At this moment, my research work provides information about a specific health topic and raise awareness about the topic. My work now focuses only on a Finnish population so it is not necessarily related to the global picture of health. However, I hope my work at GHNGN brings value to future GH professionals and help them to find their passion and path in GH.
What would you suggest to a student who wants to work in GH?
I perceive global health field very multi-sectoral and all kinds of expertise (educational or work-related) are needed. There is not just one educational path you need to follow in order to work in GH. It is my opinion that more important is your passion, your willingness to learn, how active you are, and your ability to utilize your knowledge in different contexts.
If you want to work in GH, I would recommend you to try to find a job within the field: either an entry-level position, internship or try a voluntary work. This way you can gain experience and see what is your interest. Look for organizations that work in the field and find one that matches your interest. You can also start by joining a global health student organization like I did, and this way you can learn more about others’ experiences of working in GH and network. I would also recommend finding a mentor who works in the field and within your area of interest! In addition, conferences or events are a great way to meet people who work in GH and learn about different options, topics, and organizations, and most importantly network with GH professionals!
|Niina-Maria Nissinen is a public health master student at Lund University, and a news writer at GHNGN. Her interest in public health is in drugs, alcohol and mental health with a special focus on social structures.|