The difference between pursuing an undergraduate degree and professional degree didn’t hit me until HMP orientation. Never had I talked so much about professional development, networking, internships, and career strategy. It was a much needed, eye-opening experience. And by the last month of my internship while I was still sipping água de coco on Ipanema beach on the weekends, my classmates were frantically posting on Facebook about fellowship applications for after graduation.
After returning to Ann Arbor and reflecting on my summer experience, I decided that I’d like to pursue global health consulting, only to find out that with an MPH I was still unqualified. Most global health strategy firms wanted MBAs or people with years of consulting experience. As expected, I was not asked to interview for any of the consulting firms I applied to. Even as I looked at other job postings for policy analysts, policy research, etc. it seemed like the only positions I qualified for were jobs that required only bachelor’s degrees since other positions required a master’s and 2-3 years experience. It was that or I was qualified for jobs that were similar to the student jobs I now hold. The experience requirements for job postings discouraged me briefly, almost making me believe I was no more qualified for jobs I wanted than before I began my master’s. To be clear, with my MPH I am confident that I can get a job, but whether or not I can land the job I really want is the question.
My dad comforted me and said, “Yeah, you’ll probably have to start from the bottom somewhere, maybe even in Podunk, Nowhere.”
So not only will I probably not get the jobs I really wanted, but I might not end up in a desirable location? That realization is forcing me to learn to be more open-minded about where I’d be willing to live in the U.S.
As many of my classmates are landing their fellowships one by one, I am looking forward to the cycle of job applications to start again next semester. Accepting rejection can be an ego blow, but talking to my classmates experiencing similar frustrations and supportive faculty members has renewed my confidence.