Catherine Goetz is a career consultant at The George Washington University Milken Institute School of Public Health, nestled in the heart of Washington D.C. Her expertise is in preparing MPH students for the real world of public health. She shares five insider tips to help MPH grads who are seeking work in our nation’s capitol.
How to Get a Federal MPH Job
Catherine has observed that the following traits are necessary for successfully obtaining federal MPH work:
- Patience: The federal application process via USAJobs is generally quite extensive, so patience is a must. Allow yourself plenty of time to complete each portion of the application.
- Attention to Detail: Read all application instructions carefully and follow them precisely. Do not leave out any required pieces and use the language of the posting in your answers.
- Confidence: The federal selection system is points-based and high-ranking applicants are the ones that get interviews. You must be very specific when listing your learned and practiced aptitudes. The system will not award points for any assumed—but unlisted—skills.
How to Get a Non-Federal MPH Job in D.C.
Catherine shares a few tips for MPH grads that are interested in working for a non-federal organization located within Washington D.C.:
- Use D.C. Quirks to Your Advantage: “There are few other places in the country where the reply to asking for coffee with a stranger is almost always met with a yes”. Be open to meeting with people outside your immediate sphere of influence.
- Be Where the People Are: D.C. is full of mixers, seminars, sessions…go to them! Use these events to build relationships with people from every facet of the public health world.
How to Get an MPH Job in Your Neighborhood
Catherine offers additional advice to all MPH grads seeking work:
- Reach Back to Move Forward: One outstanding (but often overlooked) resource is the career services office at your alma mater. Even if you have already graduated, reach back to those individuals who are devoted to helping you find success in public health. These professionals will direct you to internships, volunteer opportunities, and employment.
- Listen Openly, Ask Genuinely: Reach out to your peers, colleagues, and past professors, even if they are not directly in the field you are pursuing. Everyone has something to teach and something to learn, so be willing to talk and to listen.
- Humbly Approach Your Opinions: Realize that “it's not always about what someone can do for you.” Learn to appreciate the perspectives of stakeholders within public health and create solutions together. Remember,
Whether you are seeking MPH work at the federal level, in Washington D.C., or in your own neighborhood, follow Catherine’s priceless advice to help you land the MPH job of your dreams.