Just shy of a year ago, I packed my bags and headed to the APHA Annual Meeting in Philadelphia, hoping for little more than a few interesting sessions and lunch with my good friend Jennifer. She and I were working at the CDC through a fellowship sponsored by ASPH. I registered and bought my ticket simply because all of the other fellows in the program were going, and I could think of little else on which to spend my travel stipend. I went to all of the sessions on international health topics that interested me, fascinated by innovative interventions and studies and frustrated that I had not yet had an opportunity to actually go abroad or work in any kind of global health capacity. Then one of the Tuesday sessions caught my eye: “Careers in Global Health.” After accounts of the panelists’ individual career paths and advice on topics including balancing work with personal life and where to study, one of the panel speakers encouraged the attendees to get involved in the International Health section and invited anyone who was interested to come to the section’s business meeting that night. I promptly changed my section membership in the Exhibit Hall and attended the meeting later that night, where I volunteered to join the Global Health Connections Committee and offered to write for the IH blog. When I got back to Cincinnati, I sat down before the buzz wore off and wrote my first entry for this blog.
One year later, I have learned so much more than I ever thought there was to know about global health and development in general. Blogging once a week forces you to stay informed, after all, and I knew that I could not continue cheating by taking stories from the WHO’s front page. Despite having never worked abroad, I will feel much more confident when I finally do start looking for those positions abroad because I spent a year listening – to other professionals, to global health news sources, and to anything else I could get my hands on. At the top of this list of resources is a wealth of information from several international health and development professionals who are generous to share their experiences and insights:
- Alanna Shaikh, who blogs for UN Dispatch, End the Neglect, and herself (on Blood and Milk). She also puts out a career newsletter that advises people on how to pursue careers in international development (for more information on this, e-mail me at jmkeralis [at] gmail [dot] com).
- Tom Paulson, a journalist who specializes in global health and covers topics on a website called Humanosphere.
- The Center for Global Health Development has an excellent global health policy blog.
- Sarah Boseley is a journalist for The Guardian who also focuses on global health and medicine.
Also, a recent debate on development work sparked New York Times columnist Nicholas Kristof has produced a gold mine of information and advice on what it takes to do development work, and what skills to cultivate in order to make yourself marketable (e.g. writing – another reason to blog for us!).
This is by no means a complete list – if you would like my full blogroll, e-mail me.
This year I am in Denver with a packed schedule, but I am trying to reach out to other students and young professionals who were in my position last year. I am trying to recruit a few more regular (or even just periodic) bloggers, but that is not the only way to make a name for yourself, to get noticed, or even just to network and meet people. If you want to get into the field and are feeling a little too green, please reach out to me. Just because you stand in the midst of seasoned professionals does not mean your voice is too small to be heard.