Public Health

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Roles and Work Environment

The field of public health promotes and protects the health of people and the communities where they live, learn, work, and play. It emphasizes prevention and promotion of overall wellness and healthy behaviors. Opportunities in this field can vary depending on your interests, approach, and level of education. Below are some example of job titles you might find:

Examples of Public Health Jobs:

  • Health Educator
  • Epidemiologist
  • Medical and Health Services Manager
  • Social Worker
  • Healthcare Consultant
  • Biostatistician
  • Global Health Professional

Just as roles within this field vary widely, organizations where you might find opportunities can range from a government agency like the Center for Disease Control and Prevention to a health and wellness program within a corporate setting to a community health program within a local nonprofit. Below are a few broad examples of locations where you might find opportunities. For more specific ideas, make sure you explore our list of additional industry resources.

Examples of Public Health Organizations:


Skills and Training

Many opportunities related to public health require specialized undergraduate coursework/education and/or an advanced degree in the field. Review the Association of Schools of Public Health website to learn more about graduate programs and how to pursue an education and career in public health.

Examples of academic pathways at UVA for pursuing a career in public health:

General skills and competencies related to public health:

  • Assessment
  • Ability to apply quantitative analysis to qualitative information
  • Understanding of policy making process
  • Empathy and strong relational skills
  • Strong communication skills
  • Understanding of and appreciation for different cultures
  • Interest in promoting healthy individual and community behaviors

Industry Timeline

As with all industries, hiring timelines will vary, however you can assume that the more structured an opportunity, the more in advance an organization will hire. Formal internship/fellowship opportunities with larger organizations like the National Institute of Health, the American Public Health Association, and other government agencies will likely have earlier application deadlines. Nonprofits, NGOs, and other public service and education based organizations normally hire internship and full-time opportunities based on need, making openings less predictable. Review the Public Service and Government Community page for examples of recruiting timelines of PSG industries.


Find Opportunities

On-Grounds

One of the best ways to gain experience in the public health field is through volunteer work in the community, research, and involvement with health related offices and organizations on Grounds. Below are several examples of student organizations and professional offices where you might find opportunities to explore your interests in public health:

UVA Offices, Student Organizations, and Service Learning

Research

Off-Grounds


Applying and Interviewing

Resumes and Cover Letters

While the content for your application materials may be more targeted to public health experiences, your approach to formatting your resume and cover letter will look very similar as if you were applying to other industries. For tips on creating a basic resume and cover letter, check out resources on our website here.

Below are a few examples from other institutions for ideas to include within public health specific applications:

Interviewing

If you have never interviewed before, make sure to check out the Interviewing section of our website. You can also conduct a mock interview with a career counselor for practice. Most interviews will contain some mixture of questions about your past experiences (resume-based) and your ability to handle typical workplace situations (behavioral).  For full-time positions, depending on the size of the organization, you should expect to start with a 20-30 minute phone or virtual (e.g., Skype, Google Hangout) screening interview, then a longer virtual or in-person final interview. A thank you letter should be written after every interview with an employer. Send the note by email within 24 hours after the interview.


Additional Industry Resources

Blogs and Industry Research

Professional Associations

More to Explore

Drop-In Hours: Thursday 1-5p, Newcomb 170

Counselors: Dreama Johnson & Hannah Guffey

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Connect with alumni for insights about the process of choosing and starting a career in their specific field.