Career Development

How to Boost Your Public Health Experience When Starting Out

When you're looking to start your public health career, applying for a job with no experience can be challenging particularly, if you haven't had a job before. You may be finding yourself in the catch-22 situation where you need the expertise to get a job and a job to gain experience.

While this can feel frustrating, there are several ways to boost your CV and gain skills that potential employers are after. In this article, we share our top 5 tips.

1. Volunteer for Charities

Volunteering positions are an excellent way to boost your employability. Although these positions are unpaid, you'll gain from learning new skills and growing your list of contacts.

Volunteering experience can show commitment, initiative and a strong work ethic, which are all qualities that are appealing to prospective employers.

You may also advance a range of transferable skills, such as:

  • Working with stakeholders
  • Building your confidence
  • Managing your time effectively
  • Being adaptable
  • Competent communication

If possible, try to complete volunteer work relevant to the area you'd like to work in. For example, aim to volunteer with youth organisations if you'd like to work with young people. However, if you can't find anything suitable, don't worry - any volunteering experience will help your CV and give you real-life examples to talk about at an interview.

We have put together a list of organisations you might be able to volunteer for (and these are just a small number, there will be hundreds of more opportunities across the UK):

  1. Beezee Bodies
  2. Action on Salt 
  3. Cracking Good Food
  4. School Food Matters
  5. FareShare
  6. FoodCycle
  7. Food for All
  8. Age UK
  9. Trussell Trust
  10. Diabetes UK
  11. Asthma UK
  12. Stroke Association
  13. St Mungos
  14. Teenage Cancer Trust
  15. FoodCloud
  16. Bags of Taste 
  17. ABL Health
  18. VegCities 
  19. Alzheimer’s Society
  20. Mind
  21. Parkinsons UK
  22. Princes Trust

2. Ask for work experience

Being proactive by sending out speculative emails for work experience or shadowing is also worthwhile. Often organisations have a project where they could do with extra pair of hands.

Do your research and contact organisations that interest you. Then create a cover letter addressed to a named person and focus it on education and skills. Make sure you include who you are, what kind of role you’re looking for, your overall career goals (and why this position would help), your skills (or previous experience, if you have any), why you’d be suitable for the role and what time commitment you’re able to give.

3. Look for internships and apprenticeships

Occasionally in public health, there are internships and apprenticeships. These are a great way to gain that much-needed experience, and it makes it possible to earn some money while gaining first-hand knowledge of a job role or organisation.

Internships can last from a couple of weeks to a year, and they're very popular and usually very competitive.

On an apprenticeship, you'll be employed to do a real job while studying for a formal qualification. You'll sign a contract with your employer and receive training.

Apprenticeships are usuallylong-term agreements and can take from one to four years to complete. Most apprentices are guaranteed a job on completion of their programme.

4. Build Your Networks

When you're starting with no experience, who you know can be just as important as what you know. A recommendation to an employer from a personal contact can go a long way. But how do you build up a network of contacts?

If you're at university, utilise the contacts available to you before you graduate. Make the most of careers fairs, recruitment networking events and employer talks or lectures. Also, keep in touch with lecturers, the people you meet on work experience placements or internships and fellow volunteers - you never know when these contacts might come in useful.

Social media is also an effective way of building your professional network. Being on sites such as Twitter and LinkedIn and following and connecting with organisations and individuals in public health can yield good results. 

5. Emphasis the skills that you have

Work experience, internships and volunteering are essential for ensuring that your CV doesn't look empty at the application stage.

When you're writing your CV, focus on the skills you do have, rather than the ones you don't. Analyse the job description and list all the skills and personal qualities that make you a good fit for the job.

Ensure that you emphasise soft and transferable skills such as communication, leadership ability, teamwork, and attention to detail. To help you, look at job descriptions and note the essential skills employers are looking for.

However, as you're likely to lack direct experience in your chosen field, don't gloss over this fact. Instead, use it to show your passion and motivation to learn—highlight examples of your dedication and commitment to learning gained through volunteering or work experience.

If you need help with your CV, Top CV offers a free CV review. You can take a look here.

Wrapping It Up

We’ve shared our top tips you can implement for maximum results. And the best part is you can get started on it today. If you take these recommendations, it won’t take long before getting some experience to add to your CV. We would love to hear about any successes you have! Email us here.

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