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EP49 Live from the 2019 Public Health Career Expo [Part 2]
Alexandra Arriaga: Hello everyone. My name is Alexandra Arriaga, and I want to welcome you to Part Two of a live edition from the Public Health Career Expo. In this episode, we get to hear from a variety of employers and learn more about positions they're offering within the field of public health. The employers also tell us more about what they're looking for in a candidate, and give us advice for all MPH students who are beginning their job search. Are you still looking for an internship, full time job or fellowship? If so, please stay tuned.
Sean Card: I'm an FDA officer in the United States Public Health Service Commission Corps, and I'm currently assigned to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration in our Office of Regulatory Affairs. And the FDA is one of the agencies within the Department of Health and Human Services. And we regulate a broad range of the United States’ economy. About 20 cents of every dollar spent in the United States is regulated by the FDA. So we ensure the safety of medical products, drugs, vaccines, and biological products for human use. We also protect a significant portion of the food supply, the cosmetics you wear, as well as dietary supplements and tobacco products. So in the Office of Regulatory Affairs, we're the field division for the entire FDA. So while we have a headquarters near D.C., we have offices all over the country and across the world. So within there, I'm representing, this is the alphabet soup of the government, the Office of Human and Animal Foods, East Division One. So my division covers the state of New York and all of the New England states. And we protect the food manufacturers, do inspections, compliance activities, whether that's an enforcement action, do outbreak investigations, collect samples for analysis at our labs, just to name a few examples of the work we do.
Alexandra Arriaga: Great. And what types of positions are you hiring for, and what are you looking for in an ideal candidate?
Sean Card: So the FDA has a broad range of positions available, mainly in our D.C. area. I'm actually here trying to recruit for our Consumer Safety Officer positions that we have vacant in the New York area. These are also known as the FDA investigators. Our FDA investigators are the individuals that actually are out, boots on the ground, doing the inspections. So they spend the majority of their time observing firsthand the manufacturer processing, distribution, and storage of food. So that can include, your typical seafood products, it includes dietary supplements, and cosmetics again. And our ideal candidate, we have a minimum education requirement, so you have to have 30 hours of science credits as part of a degree. But that's the basic qualification. Our ideal candidate is really someone who's going to have strong oral and written communication skills, because you are required to write reports of everything that you see in kind of a firsthand narrative to tell a story. We also need someone who has really effective critical thinking skills, who can ask their selves that "so what" question when they see something that might not be right. And people who are good team players.
Alexandra Arriaga: Perfect. And in your opinion, what skills, attributes, or types of experiences will be most important in the next three to five years for professionals in your industry?
Sean Card: I think particularly in the regulatory field, staying up to date on advancing technologies, advancing processing techniques. And another important aspect will be the ability to distill technical complicated information in a plain language way. That's one of the things that we're trying to push heavily, not just at the FDA but in the government in general, is taking these complex systems we've created and explain them in a way that the general public can understand. So I think between credentialing, so pursuing that knowledge, and also working on plain language skills are going to be some of the bigger things for regulators in particular.
Alexandra Arriaga: And what is your number one piece of advice for MPH students who are just now beginning to do their job search?
Sean Card: I think one of the biggest pieces is: think of your career two to three jobs at a time. So not necessarily a five or ten year plan, but something along the lines of maybe not the job you have right now, but where you want to be three jobs after that. And be willing to accept something that you're not 100% comfortable. A lot of times that challenge that you experience in having to learn something new is really going to be what gets you to the place you want to be ultimately.
Alexandra Arriaga: That's great advice. Thank you so much.
Pamela Esposito-Amery: Hi, my name is Pamela Esposito-Amery. I am the CEO and co-founder of Tell Every Amazing Lady About Ovarian Cancer Louisa M. McGregor Ovarian Cancer Foundation. And for short, we're known as T.E.A.L.
Alexandra Arriaga: Nice.
Pamela Esposito-Amery: And so what I do is I started this foundation when my sister Louisa was diagnosed with ovarian cancer. That was about 11 years ago, because the city that we live in which was New York City, but we were born and raised in Brooklyn, didn't have the resources that she needed. So we truly are a grassroots foundation that started out that way. And now we have a national presence and run a community center and many events throughout the country. So I do many, many things that keep me very busy at a nonprofit.
Alexandra Arriaga: And what types of positions are you hiring for, and what are you looking for in an ideal candidate?
Pamela Esposito-Amery: Sure. We actually have several job openings right now. No matter what, anytime of the year, we are always, always looking for volunteers and interns. We have an internship program. We can actually customize it to whatever the student's interests are, matched up with our skillset. I think that's the one really fun thing about the opportunities that we have. Our volunteer programs and internship programs are very customizable, and we really sit down with each individual and figure out what they'd like to contribute to our foundation because we have so many different needs. So we encourage people to contact us throughout the year, anytime of year. And then currently right now we are looking for a full time, we call it a nonprofit associate. And it's basically somebody who can help with our programs and our day-to-day. We run many programs out of our community center, but they're also national programs. So it takes different types of skillset. But we are okay if somebody for entry level to just come to us with some experience for internships would be nice. And we do have more information on our website about that. And the other position we have are two other part-time positions. Our busiest time of year is the summer because September is Ovarian Cancer Awareness Month. So we have two other ... one of them is an outreach position, and the other one is also assisting with programs.
Alexandra Arriaga: Excellent. And in your opinion, what skills, attributes, or types of experiences will be most important in the next three to five years for professionals in your industry?
Pamela Esposito-Amery: A couple of things. So I've been doing this for 11 years, and before I did this, I also dealt with a lot of people and also internship programs at a previous job. And I was an intern myself. And I think an internship is really so, so important no matter what field somebody is going into to really understand whatever the program is. To learn what they like and don't like. To actually figure out if it's the right career path that they're choosing. Or how specialized they want to get. So those experiences at an internship are what really build a resume, and can also form leadership skills. We do look for leadership skills. Especially at a nonprofit, everyone has to wear many hats and sometimes delegate to other employees or other volunteers. So especially in this industry of the nonprofit world, it's really important to just have a lot of different types of skillsets and have some experiences that you absolutely can build at internships.
Alexandra Arriaga: And that being said, what is your number one piece of advice for MPH students who are beginning their job search?
Pamela Esposito-Amery: I'm going to make it two. To have respect. And what I mean by that is there's been sort of a change that I've seen just in general of the workforce. That could be an opinion of mine, but from other colleagues they're experiencing the same thing, so it's not just my opinion. Just to be on time for an interview. Even something like that, if somebody shows up late, they're not getting the job. If you're five minutes late, I'm not even going to consider them. Being late is a respectful, basic, business 101. A piece of advice that many people don't take seriously. And really just being respectful for your other staff members and even at an internship, just valuing the people around you that you're working with can absolutely go a long way.
Alexandra Arriaga: Thank you so much.
Christy Zbytniewski: My name is Christy Zbytniewski. I am the HR Corporate Recruiting Manager for SightMD. SightMD's vision is to redefine the focus of comprehensive ophthalmology by offering our patients unparalleled, seven days a week, access to world class eye care. And we do this in the convenience of their local neighborhoods and deliver service through dedicated physicians who strive to continue a tradition of personalized eye care excellence that spans over 50 years.
Alexandra Arriaga: And what types of positions are you hiring for, and what are you looking for in an ideal candidate?
Christy Zbytniewski: Great question. So we hire every position from supporting medical staff in the office, and we have over 31 locations at the moment, to corporate support. And that could mean marketing or administration. We have a lot of openings at the moment. We're growing right now. We look for candidates that have the pride, passion, and drive to serve others.
Alexandra Arriaga: And in your opinion, what skills, attributes, or types of experiences will be the most important in the next years for professionals in your industry?
Christy Zbytniewski: Good question. We look for flexibility to work in an ever-changing environment in a developing industry where it will be of utmost importance to stay tuned to the demanding needs of the public health sector. Additionally, leadership. We need individuals that not only have sound business sense, but that can also coach and lead a dynamic group of individuals in a positive direction.
Alexandra Arriaga: And what is your number one piece of advice for MPH students who are beginning their job search?
Christy Zbytniewski: Excellent question. I would say have an open mind, and don't restrict yourself to an ideal role that you have in mind. Start off by taking the time to listen more and gather intel from the professionals around you before you try to jump in and try to lead. Really listen and learn first.
Alexandra Arriaga: Great advice. And as an HR recruiter yourself, what would you say is the biggest faux pas, a no-no, when you go interview or when you go to apply for a job?
Christy Zbytniewski: I would say the biggest faux pas is to speak negatively about any prior experience. I think we all have negative experiences, yet you don't want ... You learn from those, so you don't want to talk about them in a bad light. Talk about them, "It was a learning experience. It was very trying. It was hard, but this is what I learned from it."
Alexandra Arriaga: Excellent advice. Thank you so much.