APEs: The Best Laid Plans… of 1st-Year Spring
Category : PROspective
This certainly is a wild time to be a public health graduate student! You are seeing epidemic curves unfold in real-time and applying the skills that you gained in the classroom to critically evaluate both the available data and the public health response. Epidemiology and public health are front and center – and we can feel confident that it will be a long time before we have to explain to friends and family exactly what epidemiology is.
Earlier this semester, I encouraged you to make the most of your Applied Practice Experience, and think beyond checking the proverbial box on this degree requirement. Despite the current circumstances, I think that this message rings just as true now as it did then.
We know that the challenges of identifying an APE are amplified due to the pandemic – some organizations are experiencing hiring freezes, while others have turned their attention to the pandemic response and previous plans have been put on hold. Although your APE might not look like what you had planned, I would encourage you to view this as a speed bump, rather than a roadblock. Our capacity for resiliency is far greater than any of us can comprehend, and these challenging times have the potential to bring out creativity that we didn’t know that we had. It is in this spirit that I wanted to share some strategies to help you find an APE over the coming months.
Tap into Networks Both Old and New
Is there an organization that you volunteered with prior to coming to Rollins, or one whose mission resonates with your core values? Reach out to these groups to see what opportunities they might have. Take the initiative to sell your skills and experience to note how it will benefit the organization.
Is there a professor whose work you really admire? Reach out to them to see if they have contacts with any outward facing organizations who might be interested in hosting an RSPH student.
Have you checked out #EpiTwitter yet? If not, now is the time to take the plunge! From budding epidemiologists to giants in our field – Twitter has become a place for sharing critiques of published studies, nerdy epidemiology jokes, and JOBS! There’s even an account (@EpiJobs) that regularly posts positions for both internships and full-time employment. Some students have even had success securing APEs by tweeting that they’re searching for an internship. If you decide to do this, be sure to include the #EpiTwitter hashtag, and provide some background information about who you are and what skills you hope to gain – it’s low risk with the potential for great reward. Pro tip: If you tag @EmoryEPI, there’s a good chance that your tweet will get even more traction!
Use Your Resources
Job postings will continue to become available both in Handshake and The Confounder. Remember that although The Confounder is distributed once a week as an email newsletter, you can access the scholarblog at anytime to view past and current content.
The RSPH Office of Career Development (OCD) has been hard at work to put together resources to help you during this time. Many of these are included below – but you may want to follow them on Instagram for more up-to-date information (and while you’re there, you should give rollinsepilife a follow, too!)
Notes from the Office of Career Development
Individual Coaching Sessions:
To schedule a coaching appointment, please utilize Handshake as you have previously done to request a coaching appointment.
We encourage you to continue to pursue internship, APE and full-time job opportunities. OCD will continue to recruit and collaborate with organizations to create opportunities and emphasize the utilization of virtual hiring through Rollins. Public Health Organizations are still actively recruiting students, but most likely will be shifting their in-person hiring procedures to phone and virtual interviews for the time being. Continue to utilize our Handshake platform as one of your primary job search boards, as well as other resources and job boards like the Emory Public Health Connection and LinkedIn.
This is a new online mentoring platform where students can virtually network, seek job opportunities, and ask questions of alumni and public health professionals. Students may also be interested in our job search resources.
We know that financial considerations are particularly weighing heavily these days. Students who are experiencing financial hardship can apply to the EmoryTogether Fund for assistance. If you have additional questions or concerns, please email Student Services at rsphenrollmentservices [at] emory [dot] edu.
Be Persistent & Don’t Lose Hope
Even in non-pandemic times, students can find it challenging to find an APE – the networking that is required to secure these opportunities is new for some and can be awkward at first. You may need to pursue many (N > 30) avenues before you find something that will work. To help you keep track of these contacts, I recommend creating a spreadsheet to systematically track the progress of each of your outreach efforts. The lessons that you learn along the way will be valuable as you continue to work towards becoming the influential public health professional that you hope to be.
Take heart that much time remains to identify and complete your APE, and that we are here to support you in this process. If you’ve followed all of these steps and still come up short, please reach out to your ADAP and/or Dr. Ann Do, our faculty APE advisor, and they will work with you to identify additional strategies for finding something that will be a good fit.
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