Quick Career Tips: Set public health career goals

Quick career tips: Set public health career goals

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Show Notes


Today’s career tip spotlight is on setting public health career goals.

As we prepare for the new year, Sujani shares her annual goal-setting practice, one she picked up when she entered the public health workforce. She talks about the importance of goal setting for your public health career (why she picked it up), how it has helped her, and a couple of systems and tools that she uses.

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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.

And welcome to another episode of Quick career tips. Today, I actually have my five month old son sitting on my lap as I record this episode, so let’s see how it goes. So when I’m recording this, it’s the end of 2021. And we have about three weeks until the new year, we’re still in a pandemic, but I’m kind of feeling like it’s slightly better than the last new year. For one, we understand the virus a lot more than we did last year, vaccines have rolled out and people generally understand the need for public health measures. So although this New Year, once again, is not like the ones we are used to the sound pandemic, it still gives us a revised sense of motivation and new energy, a new energy that we should probably harness especially to reflect on the path we are on and in our lives, which includes our careers. I’ve always felt the need to build a career that fits into my overall life goals. I’m not someone who can view my job as separate from the rest of my life. And, you know, with the pandemic, this has been more evident with many organizations still operating remotely. So, more so than ever, it’s a great time to reflect and think about your careers and see if it really fits into your overall life goals.

I personally enjoy reflecting and setting goals for myself. It keeps me in check with my overall purpose and forces me to reassess how I spend this valuable resource we all have, which is time. And I could sit here and talk to you all about purpose and time. But today, I really want to just focus on how setting a career goal can be beneficial for you and give you a few tips to get started on it. So I started goal setting and thinking about what my career goals would be and how they align with my life back in 2013. I had just graduated from my master’s in public health degree and had entered the public health workforce full time. And I found that goal setting was important when I was a student, but found that it became even more important when I was no longer a full time student.

And here’s why. So when we’re in school, we have these preset goals that we all seem to follow, you know, getting into a public health program, graduate from this program, apply to jobs, and then start working in the field. And it felt somewhat simple and straightforward. But then what happens once you achieve all these preset goals and enter the workforce and you’re no longer a full time student. And to be completely honest with you back in 2013, when I graduated and landed my first public health job, I felt a bit lost about the future. This job was my dream job at the time. And once the excitement of a new job calmed down and I was into my routine. I felt like I wasn’t working towards anything concrete anymore. The job was great. I had amazing mentors, lots of learning opportunities, but it felt like the path ahead was a bit unclear for me. So think about this analogy for how I felt. So it was like I had a car. I knew how to drive it. And so I jumped into it and I was just driving, but I had no stopovers or destinations planned. As you can imagine, if you were driving and had no stopovers or destinations planned, this could be frustrating and confusing. And that’s how I felt when I was thinking about my career. And that’s when I picked up goal setting. Goal setting helped me navigate my public health career. And so when we go back to the driving analogy, by goal setting, I had multiple stopovers planned and a destination that I wanted to reach. The stopovers were milestones I wanted to reach and accomplishments I wanted for myself. And the destination was not the final, you know, landing place for my career. But it was a destination that I wanted to focus on for the time being. And so having these career goals allowed me to remain focused and excited about my job again, seek out opportunities and have discussions with my managers and team members about my role. The key though, is you know, when you set a goal, you don’t just set it and forget it. Setting goals. requires regular reflections and reviews. And so I hope you know, this little story makes you think about setting goals for your public health career. And that you can use this quick career tip and this episode as motivation for you to look into it. And throughout the years, I have used a number of tools and systems for my annual goal setting and I would like to share them with you in the last few minutes of this episode, so that you can choose one that works for you or just use it as ideas to find one that works for you.

In terms of systems, the way I’ve done goal setting is by hosting annual goal setting sessions. Every year, my goal setting session included a gathering of friends and families close to New Year’s Eve, and we call the goal setting day. On this day, we met up with our laptops, went into a small- semi quiet work mode. And the session began with a reflection of our year and we recorded our proudest moments for the year. After this, we moved to setting smart goals for the new year. And then in addition to this, I would also schedule monthly reviews into my calendar so that I could track my progress. And you know, it didn’t happen every month. But when I did get a chance to go back and review my goals, I evaluated where things were at. And if I could change any of my goals if I wasn’t on track, and perhaps circumstances change throughout the year. And I may need to modify certain goals. And that’s okay, because sometimes there are things that are out of our control that requires that we do revise our goals. And then in terms of tools, I have used many, many different tools, some have worked, some not so well. But the one that I’d like to talk about actually two, one of them is the best self journal. In the past, this has helped me however, it’s quite intense. So if you’re not in a season of your life where you want intensity, this may not be the one for you, the walkthrough a 16 week roadmap. But if you do like intensity, it’s a really good one to look into. I’ll link it up in the show notes page.

But I’ve also built a simple template for myself. Pretty much it’s Google doc chart, which captures my proudest moments, books I’ve read, people I’ve met. As you know, I’m a big proponent of building relationships, for your career in your life. So it’s something I like to track. And then I go on to set goals for different parts of my life, including personal goals and career goals. And I’ll also link up this simple template in the show notes and you can download it there, should you want to use it.

And then I also want to share one more new resource. It’s not yet available. But if you are looking for some guidance to jumpstart your public health career, we’ll be launching a bootcamp in 2022 here at PH SPOT and more details on this to come. But if you do want to stay in the loop, you can head over to pHspot.org/bootcamp. To get on the waitlist and we’ll be able to share more information as we build out the bootcamp and thanks for joining me on this episode spotlighting a career tip and before you leave, I wanted to let you know that PH SPOT has additional great products for students early and established public health professionals on our website over at pHspot.org/resources. So be sure to check those out. And if you want to see notes from today’s episode, head over to pHspot.org/podcasts. And until next time, thank you so much for tuning in to the PH SPOTlight podcast 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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