Getting your career started in development work – including global health – can be tough. Among my friends from grad school, I’ve seen a few scenarios play out:
(a) You do the requisite internships (unpaid, of course), get the masters degree, do more unpaid volunteer work, and sell your skill sets as a consultant.
(b) You decide you really need to work in the field, so you end up electing to serve as an unpaid volunteer or intern for an organization overseas, but do not have a well defined role or end up spending most of your time building a website or doing other tasks that don’t let you grow professionally.
(c) You decide you aren’t happy working in the private/business/corporate sector here in the US and are interested in transitioning to this sector, but you have no idea to break into development work, even though you have valuable skills that may serve an aid organization well. (To those in this category, this video might help you avoid common pitfalls of joining the aid work community, or at least give you a good laugh.)
(d) You’re lucky enough to find the right person who helps you land a solid job. Cheers.
I’m sure there are numerous other paths people take, particularly after finishing an MPH or other degree aimed to arm them with knowledge and skills do work in development. Regardless of where you start, spending time working and living abroad, gaining a better understanding of the constituents you aim to serve through your work, and having increasing levels of responsibility in your jobs all seem to be requirements consistently listed in the mid- to senior-level positions you aim to fill, as those experiences will make you more effective in those higher level positions.
That said, finding an opportunity to live and work abroad where your skills are genuinely needed can be a challenge, particularly if you’re young (say…under 30) and have a limited number of years of past “relevant experience.” I know a number of brilliant Millennials who are still looking for that right fit.
To those of you who see a glimmer of yourself in any of the above descriptions, consider applying to the Global Health Corps. Applications are open to young professionals (under 30 years of age) through midnight on March 1st, and successful candidates will be placed in one year fellowships in Burundi, Malawi, Rwanda, Uganda, or the US. Fellowships are varied, and you may apply for one to three specific positions with NGOs (large and small) doing work in the above-listed countries.
GHC was created, in part, to fill the void of positions for up-and-coming leaders in the field of global health. The Corps’ vision succinctly articulates what they aim to achieve: “to strengthen the global health movement through an infusion of new leaders who use experience and community to heighten their impact and bring about change for health equity.” They encourage applicants from diverse backgrounds, with diverse skill sets, and select fellows based on leadership, character, and technical abilities.
The organization focuses on engaging with people outside the traditional health space in order to support health system strengthening efforts, and provides a fantastic opportunity to gain valuable experience. Fellows are provided with housing and a living stipend to cover their expenses, as well as a $1,500 completion award at the end of the one year fellowship; they also join a growing network of GHC alumni working around the globe. A particularly unique feature of GHC is that each international fellow is partnered with a second fellow who is a country national, offering the opportunity to promote knowledge sharing and synergies in order to create deeper impacts in the communities where fellows serve.