4 Volunteer Opportunities for the MPH Student
Building your résumé while in school might be the single most important thing you do to advance your career. Of course, learning the material and receiving high grades from a recognized school is important, but your résumé should be an impressive paper profile of things you’ve done and things you can do that all tie together to make you a star candidate. First-hand experience and volunteer work are huge bonuses in the eyes of an employer.
Consider the Next Step
Do you know where you hope to get a job when you are done with your MPH? If you have a specific company or organization in mind, try to get a foot in the door by volunteering there. You never know – your volunteer work could lead to an internship or job after graduation. Plus, solid volunteer work within the very organization you are applying to is always a huge bonus to help set you apart from the stack of resumes. You will likely be able to use references within the company to vouch for the kind of work you do.
Image via Flickr by USFWS/Southeast
Have you considered the job field in your own area? Some MPH students hope to move to another location for their career, but some desire to stay local. Either way, working as a public health volunteer for your city or county health department is a great way to start off your résumé. The city or county health department can help you find a volunteer spot at a local public health association.
National public health organizations typically have volunteer opportunities near your area. Check with organizations like the United States Department of Health and Human Services, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention or the American Public Health Association to start. Also, consider looking into organizations like the American Academy of Pediatrics or the American Medical Association for ways to help in the public health field.
Image via Flickr by US Army Africa
Global opportunities give you a completely different experience and insight which could look great on a résumé. Many volunteer programs are available in a different part of the world to help those facing world-wide public health concerns. Look into American organizations like Global Crossroad or Bridge Volunteers to search for a position that is best for you. Larger groups, like the International Red Cross or United Nations Volunteer Program, may also have great opportunities you could be a part of. You could find yourself doing anything from supporting patients to teaching English, depending on the needs of the area.
Look for long-term volunteer jobs that you can do over the course of many months (or even years). Short trips and volunteer stints for events might perk up a résumé in a pinch, but proving your dedication and value over time is going to be more impressive to a future employer. Plus, learning about various aspects of your field, making human connections, giving back, and learning about yourself through volunteer work is something even more valuable than a flashy resume.