Alumni help students develop their careers

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This spring the USF College of Public Health offered many opportunities for students to network and to learn about what opportunities are available to them now and in the future.

Career Panel Story

Alumni share insights on how they turned their field experiences into a career. (Photo by Natalie Preston)

Career development events ranged from alumni panels offering advice and tips on how prepare for the next step after graduation, to career fairs that helped students network and get connected with recruiters and future employers.

“Events like these are a great way for campus-based students to connect with alumni and prospective employers,” said Natalie D. Preston, COPH director of communications and alumni relations. “However, not all students are able to travel to campus. For this population, and any other COPHers who want to join in, the college has a robust alternative. The USF COPH group on LinkedIn is more than 2,500 strong! It’s a valuable resource for students who want to see the possibilities of their degree, plus it has a hearty job bank with everything from fellowships to full-time opportunities.”

During the month of February, Academic and Student Affairs (ASA) coordinated a professional development series for COPH graduate students.

This was the first time that ASA has hosted this series. Dr. Kristen Moretto, director of experiential learning and coordinator of the event, hopes that ASA will be able to do a series like this about once per year.

The series included four sessions each centered on a different theme: turning your field experience into a career, writing professional resumes and cover letters, applying for competitive fellowships, and professional networking and branding.

“These events are important for students to attend. They offer free professional development, career advice and networking opportunities in which students will not have easy access to after graduation,” Moretto said.

One session featuring COPH alumni included panelists from a variety of different places such as Meals on Wheels, OHC Environmental Engineering, H. Lee Moffitt Cancer Center & Research Institute and Florida Hospital Tampa.

Moretto thought the event was successful and gave students the chance to hear from and connect with COPH alumni.

She hopes that students gained insight into how they can get the most out of their field experience and how to be better prepared for the professional world, both now and after graduation.

Moretto offered some advice for students, “Treat every interaction with COPH alumni and other professionals as a job interview; you do not get a second chance to make a first impression.”

Students networking during the Health care and Policy and Management career fair (Photo by Anna Mayor)

Students networking during the Health Policy and Management career fair (Photo by Anna Mayor)

The Department of Health Policy and Management (HPM) held a career fair for students featuring potential employers from the health care field.

The fair, which took place on Feb. 24, had booths set up in the COPH lobby with recruiters from many health care facilities around the Tampa area. Students were able to approach these recruiters and talk about open positions and career opportunities that were available.

Representatives with Lociero Medical Group, Suncoast Community Health Center, Tampa General Hospital, and James A. Haley Veterans’ Hospital recruited for positions that ranged from internships to full-time opportunities.

WellCare was looking to hire students for their entry level positions and their 12 week internship program.

Geraldine Briceno, a recruiter with Doctors of USF Health, wanted students to know about clinical and nonclinical positions available and encouraged them to apply online.

Brittany Glover, a dual MPH and MHA student, came to the fair just to look around and to get an idea about what careers and positions are out there after she graduates in Dec. 2017. However, she ended up finding opportunities that she can pursue now.

“I’ve talked to a couple places and found out that I could possibly get a part-time job at some of these places that I wasn’t expecting. Some of the recruiters even took my resume and said that they would give it out to people that they knew were hiring where they could see me being a good fit at,” she said.

The fair also gave students the opportunity to network and make connections within the health care field.

Sree Alluri, an international student in the health care organization management concentration, was looking for internships and also fellowships and felt that the fair helped in his search.

“This fair has helped me in networking and finding companies, learning more about them and their services and positions. It’s helping me focus on what I should be doing now as a student,” Alluri said.

Brittany Glover and recruiters from Suncoast CHC (Photo by Anna Mayor)

Brittany Glover and recruiters from Suncoast CHC (Photo by Anna Mayor)

Recruiter, Jan Rodriguez, from Suncoast CHC is a COPH alumna. Graduating from the MHA program in 2013, he wishes that he had this kind of opportunity available to him when he was a student.

“I think it’s great that COPH is doing this for the students; I wish it’s something that I had when I was a student here. It’s a good way for us to let students know what options are out there as far as employment goes. There are so many sectors out there in health care that we don’t really hear about while in school,” Rodriguez said.

There was a mutual consensus among the companies that they would return in the future if asked.

“We would absolutely return in the future. The COPH is a great college and has a ton of great students,” Rodriguez and his Suncoast CHC colleagues said.

Students Glover and Alluri agreed that they would definitely come to the fair again if given the opportunity.

“This is a great way for students to get their first step in the door,” Rodriguez said.


Career Dev. Image

Panelists at the EBSA session included COPH alumni Dr. Gregory Danyluk, Dr. Jenny Permuth, Selina Radlein and Daniel Chacreton (Photo by Caitlin Keough)

The Epidemiology and Biostatistics Student Association (EBSA) also hosted an alumni panel session, on March 8.

The event featured an informal town hall questions and answers session between panelists and students followed by a reception that allowed students to converse and network with the alumni panelists.

Robust conversations between the panel and the audience took place with topics ranging from academic performance to building a public health career. Students were also given answers to questions, such as, ‘What classes should I be taking to make me more competent as an epidemiologist/biostatistician?’ ‘What skills and experiences should I seek to be more marketable?’ and ‘What is a typical day like for an epidemiologist?’

Utuama said that a big part of life after graduation is meeting and working with different people; events like this foster that kind of interaction in a safe and friendly environment.

The setting provided a way for the panelists to view the students’ interpersonal skills, which they said was one of the biggest components in an interview.

Selina Radlein, ISS data analyst at H. Lee Moffitt Cancer Center & Research Institute, said, “Personal skills are a lot more important in some aspects. Work on networking, interpersonal skills and work ethics. I think those things speak more volumes than what bullet points you have on your skills set and resume.”

Dr. Jenny Permuth, molecular epidemiologist at Moffitt, and Daniel Chacreton, environmental epidemiologist at the Florida Department of Health, agreed with Radlein.

“The soft skills, the interpersonal skills are also something that is very important when we are interviewing applicants for positions. Can we get along with you? Is there rapport? Someone can be the brightest person but if I can’t get along with them and they’re going to disturb the office place, then it’s not going to work,” Permuth said.

Chacreton said, “Once you meet the basic qualifications of what we are looking for, from there it’s how well we get along with you during the interview. Most of the time it’s not the most highly qualified person that gets the job, it’s the person who I wouldn’t mind spending eight hours every day with.”

The panelists also gave advice on gaining that first job and how volunteer and internship opportunities within the field will help with building a career and making connections.

“It helps to be interning, working part-time and volunteering in the field. Most of you want to go into a field that is health related but if potential employers see that you, in your first five years after or during grad school, haven’t been working in the health field in some capacity it might not swing in your favor,” Radlein said.

Dr. Gregory Danyluk, epidemiology manager for the Florida Department of Health and former president of the Florida Public Health Association, pushed for students to get internships or volunteer in as many ways as you can.

Student giving her resume to Dr. Gregory Danyluk (Photo by Caitlin Keough)

Student giving her resume to Dr. Gregory Danyluk (Photo by Caitlin Keough)

“There is no such thing as an irrelevant or non-learning moment within your job. You are going to pick something up. Any time you have volunteered or worked somewhere; put it on your resume. You never know when those skills and experiences can be relevant,” Danyluk said.

Students asked some questions that weren’t related to career development, but did help them realize that balance is often needed in order to succeed.

Permuth told students that in-between her busy work schedule and being a mother, she schedules days or nights for her to reflect and relax.

One of Danyluk’s favorite hobbies is running, which helps him feel better during stressful times.

When asked by a student what he would have done differently in college, Chacreton said, “I would have bothered my advisor more and used them more as a resource for guidance. They are there and have tons of experience and knowledge.”

Permuth thought that having a good mentor while at COPH would benefit students.

“Working hard, having a mentor that works well with you, who you respect and have mutual admiration for, can set the stage for success,” Permuth said.

Ovie Utuama, vice president of professional development in EBSA, said, “This is the first time that the EBSA has coordinated an alumni panel event and I hope that the association and COPH at-large continue to promote these kinds of events. The current EBSA executives are winding down their term in office and we share a hope that incoming members will fan the flames of our passion for professional development, social fare and academic proficiency.”

Utuama said that he thinks that it is important for students to participate in these types of events so they can identify a niche for themselves early on and streamline their academics and extra-curricular activities to reflect this focus.

“I would like to think that this is the first of many such events that bring public health practice and practioners closer to USF COPH students in a tangible way. I think oftentimes we are so far buried in the theory of public health that we become unable to appreciate what the practice of the profession looks and feels like. The goal of this panel was to help bridge this gap,” he said.

Utuama said that students who participated received clarification on academic and professional skills and experiences needed to excel in the field of public health, gained real world insight into public health practice and established professional connections with alumni in anticipation for life after graduation.

Story by Caitlin Keough, USF College of Public Health