Navigating a career change in global health can be supported by getting involved in volunteer positions.
Changing careers is never easy, but the rewards are worth it. As someone currently enduring the growing pains of switching industries, getting involved is the best place to start. Volunteering is a way to explore topic areas in global health that you may be considering.
Volunteering for organizations that you’re passionate about allows you to get involved in projects that you enjoy, plus it adds to your education and skill building. There’s less pressure than an internship, and more ways that you can step up to show initiative.
Over the course of my career change, I’ve picked up on four skills to get involved in committees to boost your experiences and try something new.
There are pros and cons to social media. In this case, use it to your advantage! Follow organizations that are of interest to you. See what projects they work on, and if their values are in line with yours.
Most of the time, volunteer, committee and even internship positions are posted informally on platforms like Instagram and LinkedIn. Meaning, they don’t always show up in Google searches.
One of the best parts about social media is that once you start following accounts of interest, more and more will start showing up on your explore page.
My global health interests lie heavily with gender equality and SRHR. I began following the International Youth Alliance for Family Planning on Instagram and saw they were looking to expand their team. I sent in my application and I’m currently serving on the communications committee for the Canada chapter.
Pro Tip: Engage with the accounts you follow. Post comments and reactions, reshare posts and articles, and don’t hesitate to reach out and introduce yourself.
When I started my journey into global health, I knew no one in the field. It wasn’t until one of my connections posted on Facebook that they were looking for volunteers for a mental health campaign with the political outreach team, Future Majority.
If you’re introverted like myself, reaching out to someone you hadn’t spoken to in a decade is frightening. I did it anyway. Not only did I reconnect with an old friend, I made new connections with like-minded individuals who were passionate about the same things as I.
My time with a grassroots organization let me explore politics and outreach in a way I would not have thought possible. I finished two major campaigns with Future Majority.
Pro Tip: Meaningfully reach out to your personal connections of interest when you are actively ready to take on a new role. You will be able to put your best foot forward and your connection may be able to help you find other positions (even paid ones!)
If you told me a year ago I would be writing blog posts about global health topics, I would have rolled my eyes.
I had the pleasure of hearing ThriveHire founder, Haley Mundeva, speak at York University and give career tips to those in global health. She talked about ThriveHire and put the call out for content contributors. I’ve never considered myself a writer, nor a communications person, but decided to take advantage of the offer.
Not only have I been able to explore topics of my choice, I was able to experience communications work, which is now a sector of global health that I love, but would have completely missed out on.
My communications exploration with ThriveHire encouraged me to pursue an editor position with the York University Global Health Magazine to further my communications experience.
The term growth mindset is a current buzzword on social media, and it refers to the ability to understand that gaining skills and learning is dynamic and flexible, not permanent. Meaning, that skills can be gained and improved with time and effort.
So far, I’ve painted a rosy picture. I’ve had some volunteer experiences that were less than stellar, however, I always learned something because I took the time to try something new. I learned about myself and my capabilities, and about what subject matter is most important to me. The process of volunteering has given me laser-focus on my career interests.
Joining groups and committees can seem daunting, so recognizing what you may gain will make the process easier. It can take some time to find the ideal position, so start anywhere and let the volunteering begin!