PHS035 Quick Career Tips Don’t take yourself out of the game - Strategies to gain public health work experience (Part 1), with Sujani Siva

Quick career tips: Don’t take yourself out of the game – Strategies to gain public health work experience (Part 1)

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Show Notes

This three part career tips series is inspired by a blog post written and published in 2019 by Sujani titled: 3 strategies to build up your public health work experience, tested and proven by me.

Today’s career tip spotlight is the first of these three strategies: DO NOT take yourself out of the game!

Prior to starting PH SPOT, a common question that Sujani would receive from students and new grads she was mentoring was related to gaining work experience early in their careers. This question has remained one of the most popular questions even amongst the PH SPOT community.

In this episode, Sujani talks through the first strategy she used in order to gain public health experience. These experiences became the foundation of her public health career.

You’ll learn:

  • At times, we can become our own limiting factor by restricting the jobs we apply to.
  • There are many filters, literal ones on the job search websites, and the ones we have in our minds, that we apply when searching for a job.
  • Choose filters that are deal breakers to you; be intentional when choosing these (i.e. location, salary).
  • Don’t let filters stop you from even throwing your name into the hat.


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Episode Transcript

Sujani 0:02
Welcome to PH SPOTlight, a community for you to build your public health career with. Join Us Weekly right here. And I’ll be here too, your host Sujani Siva from PH SPOT.

Hi, everyone. Thank you for joining me today on another episode of PH SPOTlight, a space for you and me and everyone else in public health to share our stories and inspire each other. My name is Sujani Siva, the host of PH SPOTlight, and I’m here to help you build your public health career. Welcome to another episode of Quick Career tips. This three part Career Tip series that I’m about to kick off with today’s episode is actually inspired by a blog post that I wrote in 2019 titled, “Three strategies to build up your public health work experience”, tested and proven by me.

So over the years before I started PH SPOT, a common question that I would receive from early professionals was related to work experience, this actually has remained true even after starting PH SPOT. And I can relate when PH SPOT followers write to me and express their concerns of needing public health work experience to get a public health job. So I thought back to my time during undergrad and post master’s, to write this blog post that I’m going to be referring to. And I reflected back on strategies that I had used in order to gain my public health experience, these experiences actually became the foundation of my public health experience, and helped me to actually bulk up my resume.

And so in today’s episode, I want to give you the first of these three strategies that I followed when building my public health experience. And so the first tip we’re going to talk about is a very important one. And it is about not taking yourself out of the game.

So let’s start with the basics, we sometimes become our own limiting factor by restricting the jobs that we apply to. So there are many filters, literal ones on the job search websites. And then there are the ones that we have in our heads that we apply when searching for a job. And so this can include location, length of contract, you know, a permanent job versus a temporary one, the type of job, the salary. And this I felt was decreasing my own chances of even getting an interview because I was filtering out all these jobs, not really thinking about why these factors mattered to me. And so expanding my search and removing these filters actually opened up many more opportunities. And so I wasn’t just restricting myself to say 20-minute drive from home and had expanded to maybe thinking about relocating to a city nearby, where I could still visit my family on the weekends. So my advice to you would be to really choose the filters that are deal breakers for you. Perhaps it’s that you cannot take on a full time job because your school schedule requires you to be available in the morning. Hence, you can only look for evening or weekend work. Maybe it’s location, you cannot move out of where you are currently living due to certain responsibilities you have. And that’s okay. The point here is to be intentional when you’re choosing these filters. If you realize that your filters are just arbitrary, and that you have no concrete reasons for them, for example, a minimum salary upon graduation, you’re really limiting your opportunities. So my first job out of my master’s was a casual job as a peer leader in cancer awareness. I was delivering health education on breast cancer and cervical cancer to my community in my native language. It was only a few hours a week at minimum pay, but it was a start. Once I landed this opportunity, I still continued my job search with full steam ahead. The casual job ensured that I was applying my health promotion and education skills. And I was certainly learning a lot while I’ve added to my resume. However, I knew that I wanted something else something more permanent. Location is also something that individuals filter out during job searches. And I think that this really limits your search. When you consider location, I encourage you to put a bit of thought into it. If you’re living in say Toronto, Canada, for example, and by default, are always hitting Toronto on your job search filters. Ask yourself why you’re choosing to only look in that specific location. Perhaps it’s because you have family responsibilities in the city. Or perhaps you know that you function much better with support from your social circle and that’s okay. But you need to know why you are making that decision. If during this reflection, you decide, okay, maybe I can’t move to a different province, but I can certainly move within a three hour radius from my hometown. That single decision just opens up many more opportunities for you. This example is a decision that I made when I moved back to Toronto from Saskatoon, which are about 3000 kilometers away, and it was about a three hour flight. being away from family and friends and my partner for two years during my master’s in Saskatoon was quite difficult, but I did it. However, I decided that when I was taking on a job, it needed to be less than 3000 kilometers for sure, I was moving, or I was rather willing to move somewhere within a radius of a few hours, which would allow me to drive back to the hometown where my family and friends lived on the weekends. Even if I was spending the weekdays in a different city, the weekends allowed me to be with my family. When you make that sort of decision, your options really increase. And so if we push the radius to three hours from Toronto as an example, it gives you cities like Barry, and Midland in the north, all of the cities in Durham Region, and up to Kingston in the east, and Hamilton, and Kitchener, and Guelph, and London, and even down south into the US to Buffalo if you’re willing to go across the border. So the tip here is not to let the filters of location, salary, or length of contract, for example, stop you from even throwing your name into the hat. If you have a solid reason for applying those filters to your job search, then go for it. Otherwise keep those options open. So I hope this Quick Career tip really encourages you to think about your job search strategies to gain public health experience in a new light. And I want to thank you again for joining me on this episode spotlighting a career tip and I’ll be back with the next strategy in the next career tips podcast episode.

And before you leave, I wanted to let you know that PH SPOT has some amazing products for students, early professionals and even established public health professionals on our website at And if you want to see notes from today’s episode, you can head over to pH And until next time, thank you so much for tuning into PH SPOTlight and for the invaluable work that you do for this world.


About the Show

PH SPOTlight: Public health career stories, inspiration, and guidance from current-day public health heroes

On the show, Sujani sits down with public health heroes of our time to share career stories, inspiration, and guidance for building public health careers. From time to time, she also has conversations with friends of public health – individuals who are not public health professionals, but their advice and guidance are equally important.

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