PHS039 Quick Career Tips Tap into your network - Strategies to gain public health work experience (part 3), with Sujani Siva

Quick career tips: Tap into your network – Strategies to gain public health work experience (Part 3)

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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 third of these three strategies: tap into your network!

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 third strategy she used in order to gain public health experience. These experiences became the foundation of her public health career.

You’ll learn:

  • Reaching out to individuals in your network for an introduction to prospective employers is a great strategy to begin a job search.
  • It’s only appropriate to reach out to individuals within your network with whom you already have a previous relationship with – not a LinkedIn connection you just added.
  • Don’t hesitate to leverage your network for job searches. (It can be awkward at first.)
  • Building your network early on goes a long way when you really need help and support. (Listen to this episode for more on this: Episode #33: Quick Career Tips: Invest In Your Professional Relationships.)


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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. Today’s episode is a three part Career Tip series inspired by a blog post I wrote in 2019, titled “Three strategies to build up your public health work experience tested and proven by me”. I wrote this blog post because of the same questions I was receiving from PH SPOT community members around building experience. So I reflected back on strategies that I used in order to gain my public health experience, and then shared them back with the community in this blog post. In today’s episode, I give you the third and final of three strategies that I followed when building up my public health work experience.

And so this final tip is tap into your network. Part of my job search strategy after my master’s was to reach out to my network, mainly past supervisors who are in the city that I had completed my master’s in to see if they knew anyone or any organizations in Ontario. And that’s where my family was. And that’s where I wanted to build up my career. So since I had prior relationships with these individuals, I felt that it was appropriate for me to ask them to be connected to prospective employers, tapping into your network for a job or introduction to prospective employers will only work and should only be done with someone you already have a previous relationship with. This could be an individual you worked with, maybe volunteered with, or went to school with in the past, it’s up to you to determine if the individual you are reaching out to will vouch for you. And so, as a rule of thumb, it’s best not to put the individual in an uncomfortable position, if you don’t think they could vouch for you when reaching out to a prospective employer to make an introduction. And so reach out to individuals that you have supported or work with, you might feel awkward to reach out to them for a job if you haven’t done so in the past. But don’t let that get in the way. Because if you know that you left a good impression, as humans, we always want to give back and we feel good when we can do something in return for someone that has helped us. The flip side to this is asking someone you don’t know for a job. This unfortunately will not work. So just because you are connected to someone on LinkedIn, it does not mean that you know them. And it’s often not okay to ask them to find you a job or think about you if they come across a job. Again, be intentional when you reach out to your networks, and choose the ones that you have a relationship with.

So on that note, I encourage you to check out Episode 33, where I speak about the importance of investing in your professional relationships, including who to build these relationships with and how, it will certainly become very helpful in your career. So when I was done, my master’s program decided to tap into my network for introductions to prospective employers. My past supervisors did connect me with other researchers in Ontario, where I was building up my career. And I pitched my skills to them when I had the opportunity. They were quite open to speaking with me. And we did connect because we had that mutual connection. However, they did not have funding to hire anyone at that time. So despite not finding my first job through this specific strategy, I learned though, that building your network early on goes a long way when you really need the help. I felt supported by these individuals who were willing to put time aside to find opportunities for me. And so I can quickly tell you about another thing my past supervisors had done, which was actually to give me their seat at a conference that was taking place in Ontario. So around the same time that I was job searching, there was a Knowledge Translation conference that my past supervisor was registered to attend. Unfortunately, she wasn’t able to travel to Ontario, so offered me the tickets so that I could attend. She knew that I was looking for a job and suggested that I go there at this conference to meet people and maybe expand my network in Ontario. And I speak about this in almost every post I write about building your network and building relationships in your career. And I promise you if you take the time to invest in your professional will relationships, you will land some amazing opportunities through these relationships that you invest in, offer up your skills and expertise when you can to individuals in your network without expecting anything in return. And when the time is right, and you do need the support or are looking for different opportunities, and you reach out to these individuals, they will be the ones to support you.

So I hope you enjoyed the past three quick career tips episodes, which were based on the blog post that I wrote in 2019. And I’ll be sure to link that up in the show notes page. And once again, 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 some great products for students as well as early and established public health professionals on our website at So be sure to check those out. And if you want to see notes from today’s episode, head on over to And until next time, thank you so much for joining me on 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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