The importance of volunteering and how they shape your public health career, with Christina Ricci

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In this episode, Sujani sits down with Christina Ricci, an epidemiologist with the Public Health Agency of Canada and an avid volunteer. They discuss the importance of volunteerism and what motivates Christina to keep volunteering.

What You’ll Learn from this Episode:

  • How Christina got into the field of public health
  • Christina’s volunteering journey and what motivated her to continue seeking out volunteer roles
  • How Christina’s early volunteer experiences shaped her interest in public health and vice versa
  • What some of the most rewarding volunteer positions have been for Christina and what skills she learned – both expected and unexpected
  • Why it is important for Christina to continue volunteering, even after she landed a full-time public health job  
  • How to identify and land volunteer experiences, both formally and informally
  • How to integrate volunteer work into your resume
  • Factors to consider before taking on a volunteer role
  • Tips on how to balance volunteer work with other work and play
  • Advice from Christina for students and early career professionals as it relates to public health volunteer work

Today’s Guest:

Christina is an Epidemiologist with the Public Health Agency of Canada and completed her Masters of Public Health in Epidemiology at the University of Toronto. Outside of work she volunteers with various universities doing systematic reviews, as a program manager for an NGO improving disability services access and disability inclusion stigma in West Africa as well as with the United Nations to name a few. She has also started her own program for newcomers to Canada to connect them to resources through webinars and workshops.

Featured on the Show:

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Episode Transcript

Christina 0:00
I’m getting to help people and do that aspect of public health and, and do that aspect of something that makes me feel good. But then also, I’m doing some learning along the way.

Sujani 0:16
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.

Hey Christina, thank you so much for joining me on the PH SPOT podcast. So great to have you here. And I think this conversation we’re going to have around volunteer experiences and how that adds to one’s public health career is going to be so valuable to a lot of our listeners, and I think especially students and early public health professionals. But yeah, we’ve got a lot to cover, I think in today’s session. But before we jump in, I want to welcome you to our podcast and just say, thank you so much for joining me.

Christina 1:05
Yeah, thanks. So happy to be here. Thank you so much for inviting me to be on the podcast. And I guess I’d like to say that I’m located in Ottawa, which is on the traditional unceded territory of the indigenous nation where I work, learn and play.

Sujani 1:23
Thank you. Yeah. Thanks for doing that as well. To just jump right in to our discussion today. I am always curious to hear from my guests as to how they discovered public health. You know, it’s always a split between I discovered it accidentally, which has been what most people have said, and a small number of people have said, like, yeah, I’ve intentionally crafted this career path. So curious to hear how did you discover public health?

Christina 1:51
Yeah, so definitely the former, it kind of happened accidentally. So in my earlier years of my undergrad, I was doing more of the biological sciences, lab work, that sort of thing. I knew that I wanted to do something in the maternal health space. So back in first year, I had learned about something that’s called DOHAD. So developmental origins of health and disease. So I found it really interesting, it’s sort of like exposure that the baby might have due to the mother during pregnancy, can then have like a later effects like 30 years later on chronic diseases in the child. So I thought that that was really interesting. And I was sort of my introduction into the health aspect of it. So I was doing more of the biochem lab side of that for the first couple years, then I had stumbled upon. So I was on a co op, actually, and I got off on the wrong floor of my building, and had stumbled upon this sort of epidemiology, Health Research Institute. And I thought that it was kind of interesting. So I started looking into it a little bit more. And at the same time, I was on my last co op. So I was thinking there was a what master’s program do I want to do? And I knew that I wanted to do something now it was a little bit more population level, more preventative medicine, versus the biological sciences. So between the sort of getting off on the wrong floor, incidentally, and thinking about what- what do I want to do my master’s in, I kind of came across public health, and that preventative lens, still had those sort of quantitative aspects that I was hoping for. And yeah, I guess the rest is history.

Sujani 3:33
I mean, talk about a true accidental discovery of public health, just getting off on that floor. It’s almost like it was meant to be. That’s a pretty cool story, the discussion I wanted to have with you. I think I maybe like we connected on LinkedIn. And I remember looking at your experiences and accomplishments there. And the section that really stood out to me was your volunteering section. And you have listed there 18 volunteer that you have done, which is phenomenal, and super impressive. And we’re at least like in Ontario, where I grew up. Volunteering is something that’s encouraged right from high school, so that you can get your credits. That’s- That’s one reason. But also it helps you discover what you like and what you don’t like. But then it seems like you know, just looking at all the roles that you’ve held. You continue that into your university years.

Christina 4:31

Sujani 4:31
And I think you’re still doing it. Even though you’ve finished your master’s. You’ve landed a full time role in maternal health, something that you were working towards, and you’re still volunteering, so I was curious to hear your journey towards investing a lot of time, energy, into volunteering. So maybe let’s start with that. When did you start volunteering? Was it something that you picked up on your own or was it as a result of a requirement for school? And do you remember what that first volunteer experience was like? Was it related to health? Or was it just something else that you had found that you were motivated to do?

Christina 5:10
Yeah, it definitely would have been back in high school for those, those credits that we needed. So, back in high school, I did a lot of volunteering at the food bank, I was planning on becoming a swim instructor. So I was like a volunteer swim instructor. But my very first and what even today is one of the most impactful volunteer experiences that I did in high school was I was a camp counselor with children with autism and other special needs, it kind of started to lead me in that direction of health, I always had an interest in health, even from a very young age, but it kind of led me in this direction of, okay, this could be a way to integrate health and you know, developmental disorders that affect children and people, and then also integrate, like how I can potentially give back to the community and, and help people and improve their quality of life. And those sorts of aspects. So I think I brought that with me, even into my later volunteer experiences. And what led me to doing science and health, like even in university was this sort of helping people with things that are related to their health and their quality of life overall, and social determinants and that sort of thing.

Sujani 6:29
And so like, from that experience, did you just find yourself finding more and more health related volunteer roles?

Christina 6:37
Yeah, for sure. So once I started university, I was volunteering at McMaster Children’s Hospital. And that was where I volunteered throughout my entire degree, minus one I was on coop. So they asked you like, where do you want to volunteer and I knew I based on- on these first lectures I had had and university, this DOHAD concept, I knew I wanted to do something in the NICU in the obstetric area. So they had placed me there. And I was able to learn more about health and learn more about maternal health that way, but they also placed me in the pediatric oncology ward. So I was able to learn a little bit about pediatric oncology and, you know, kind of talked to these parents and McMaster is one of few hospitals that are like a major Oncology Center for Pediatric Oncology in Ontario. So I was able to like we are these parents that traveled from far distances and, and that sort of thing. And I really enjoyed learning about the inaccessibility to care. And, like, I think that those sorts of experiences definitely helped to shape so in my public health, where I was learning about that there was an accessibility of care. And I was learning about different forms of health care. And, yeah.

Sujani 7:57
Yeah, it’s super cool. Because you learned this concept. I think you said in undergrad, and then was it just pure curiosity that you wanted to explore this topic even more? What’s that connection that you had beyond feeling that this is an area that sounds interesting? And I want to keep exploring? Was that just it? Or was there more to that?

Christina 8:19
Yeah, I think it was that as I was leaving high school, beginning University, I knew I wanted to do health. And then as the years were going on, I knew I wanted to do maternal health and pediatric oncology. And I didn’t know I wanted to do that for public health. But then, in learning a lot about maternal health, I learned about risk factors and things can happen that then result in something else happening, which sort of led me towards public health. And then throughout the coops, it just became like, yeah, like an increasing interest of wanting to learn more about this area, and then also sort of shape myself into once I knew I wanted to do an MPH, like how do I kind of shaped some experiences, to learn about the many attributes of that be that the more like quantitative and academic areas, but then also the sort of social structures that sort of surrounding that and learn about those sorts of things and get to know people who are impacted by these issues? But yeah, I think just curiosity.

Sujani 9:20
And you know, it’s sort of sounds like you used these volunteer experiences, like you said, to help shape your interest in public health. It’s kind of like the chicken come before the egg question. Were you using the volunteer experiences to further explore this area? Or was it that you were just volunteering because you liked to do this and then as a result of volunteering, you discovered this field a lot more.

Christina 9:47
It’s, it’s a little both. I think, like in my early experiences, I knew I wanted to volunteer at the NICU. So that I guess that’s the sort of going in, but then I also learned something new and I think that that was whatever you experience, I go in thinking that I’m taking this step because I know this is like a step in the correct direction to my larger goals and skills that I want to build. But then also from that I learned something new, and then have further shapes the directions. So yeah, it’s a little of both. Like when I when I started my MPH, I was in an epidemiology specialization already. But I didn’t know exactly what that would mean for me. So then, I started volunteering at a women’s college, helping them with breastfeeding surveillance and whatnot. And yeah, look, I think it was like I went in knowing that, okay, I want to do EPI, in this way. And so let me do that. But then I left knowing that okay, I know that I want to use SAS in this certain way. And then I want to focus more on the recommendation. And like, how exactly then I wanted to- Yeah, so I think it’s just a battle both always.

Sujani 11:00
Yeah. Why has it been important for you to continue volunteering, even now, now that you’ve landed a full time, like you’ve graduated from a master’s program, you’ve landed a full time public health job in a field that you’re super passionate about, feel connected to, and an organization that, you know, you can have impact in, and you’re still investing time and energy to volunteer, what’s the drive behind that?

Christina 11:26
I guess, in a word, learning, it’s something that I enjoy doing. And it’s kind of become like, throughout the pandemic, a bit of a hobby of mine of how do I spend my evenings when I can’t go anywhere else. But I think a lot of it has been learning that there’s now the opportunity where I’ve done school, I have a little bit more time, I want to give back to the community, I just finished school, like I’m still in this mode of wanting to learn and learn. So I’ve been able to, more recently, since I’ve landed a full time job create this almost symbiotic relationship where I’m getting to help people and do that aspect of public health and, and do that aspect of something that makes me feel good. But then also, I’m doing some learning along the way. And then also part of it has kind of been timing with the pandemic and like practicums. So what we do at all, that’s where I did my master’s degree was University of Toronto, we finish on a practicum. So I had a little bit of time, in essence of it being a practicum that I do my full time job during the day, and then I have the nights. I think just with that time, and then also with the pandemic, I had a lot of time to reflect on what I’m hoping to get out of my career and why I went into public health, which is to, to help people and I think the pandemic has really put to light a lot of the social determinants of health and inequities that exist. So then I kind of just taking in all of this and knowing that now I have all of this knowledge, and I am quote unquote, a public health professional, what can I do going forward? And what do I want to learn now that I’m done school? And what are things that I wasn’t necessarily able to learn in an academic setting? Just because it’s not an appropriate skill to necessarily learn in an academic setting, but what are other skills for my career that are going to be important?

Sujani 13:26
Oh, I love that. I love that constant learning. And I think just predicting into the future, I don’t think there will ever be a year where you’re not volunteering. So I’m curious to hear what you’re thinking as well.

Christina 13:38
Yeah, yeah, I think that I don’t know, like once I have children and whatnot, but I find it an important aspect. And I think it makes me happy at the end of the day, regardless of how much I learned or not, I think it makes me happy to do and happy to know that I left a place better than I came to it, that learning aspect. I think, I don’t know if it’s because I just finished school or not much awesome, almost a year out now. But I think that it’s important to keep that element of learning in order to progress your career and whatnot.

Sujani 14:11
Absolutely. I speak with many students, early professionals and something that I hear often which I try to get them to think differently and reframe is, they’ll come to me and say, I want to start working, but I have no work experience. And then I’ll kind of look at everything they’ve done and see that they have like a dozen different volunteer positions they’ve held, they’ve done some great projects in these volunteer roles, but then they don’t think of those as experience that is super valuable. That is as good as work experience that can be on your resume that you can talk about with prospective employers at your interview. So that was one of the reasons I wanted to get you on the podcast was to further drive that message home. So first, maybe we can start with the broader question of how do you value the experiences that you’ve gathered? Or the skills that you’ve learned about your volunteer roles? And how have they helped you in landing your full time public health jobs?

Christina 15:24
Yeah, absolutely. I’ve heard the exact same thing for many students. And I tried to tell them that it’s really an invaluable experience. And I think that I value it so much, because volunteering almost creates a setting where you don’t need to have two or three years of experience to be able to go into that role. And if you kind of work with the coordinator or whatnot, the lead, you can have it be that if there’s a certain skill, you really want to work on that you can work on that. And then you can go to your first job or applying to an MPH or making a career transition and say, yeah, I did these skills, because regardless of how it is, you’ve learned them. Regardless, if you were paid or not, it doesn’t, it doesn’t necessarily matter, you now have the knowledge to do it. And, and you probably were in a less judgmental setting to just kind of get your hands a little bit dirty and learn it. I think that it’s been really helpful, even for myself that I think a lot of my formative volunteering in, in high school and in my undergrad really helped to shape like we’ve been talking about my direction to public health. And then that’s been further refined to my specific areas of interests within public health, but the volunteering that I was doing towards the end of my MPH, then once I finished school, and even right now, a lot of them are really interesting skills that I’m pretty confident will help in other areas of my future career. With one of the places I volunteer, it’s called Green Onyx. I’m kind of like a project manager there, which I don’t have a PMP. Like, I don’t have necessarily the credentials to do that. But because it’s a volunteer place, they’re a little bit more accepting and willing. And I’ve been able to learn all of these different project management skills that who knows if I’m ever a manager one day that might be really helpful to me, or, like I’ve done a few volunteering experiences where I’m writing a manuscript. And that’s absolutely helped me in my day to day job of writing my manuscripts for my job, or policy briefs for one of my volunteering things. PHYC, the Public Health Youth Association of Canada, we write policy briefs, which has made it really easy for me to know how to really succinctly write a policy brief that I need to do for work, it translates well into the job, even though you kind of learned it in a little bit of what might be seen in a- in a rougher way. But it’s also really hands on way opposed to all I went and learned how to write a policy brief or do a data analysis. I learned that by taking a course and not to say that that there’s anything wrong with that there’s absolutely not, but it gives you a little bit more. For those who kind of learned by doing it, it allows you to kind of just really get in there and do it. So I think that volunteering is really valuable in that sense. And it’s helped me in my career in that sense.

Sujani 18:29
Those tangible skills that you mentioned, like project management, and writing policy briefs, those are definitely things that you can throw on your resume, you can talk about in your interviews, and they hold a lot of weight when it comes to finding your full time job. And in addition to those, can you think of other skills that maybe it was unexpected that you picked up from your volunteer roles that you’re using in your full time public health job? Yeah, curious to hear if there’s any others that come to mind.

Christina 18:59
I think I’m at a stage now where I’m less so trying to refine my interest in a more so trying to build skills. So one place that I volunteer right now is called the STG ambassador program. So it’s through the United Nations Association of Canada. It’s a program and- and volunteering at the same time. But what it essentially does is they kind of facilitate a setting for you to make your own organization in your local community. And it’s run by the United Nations Association. So they really try to give you this like, do local but think global sort of lens. So I’ve been able to learn a little bit of global health aspects through that and then through this program, specifically a lot of program implementation and program evaluation. And fortunately, unfortunately, I don’t know what word to use. I didn’t learn during my- my MPH because I was in a specialization for epidemiology. And I find it a really in interesting area like as an epidemiologist making these recommendations based on the data, what’s the kind of the step after that is something that has piqued my interest at times. So learning how that program would be developed, or how does the financing work for, for that has been really interesting. And I guess other than that, so I volunteered during the summer with the United Nations. And it was really interesting to learn how to work through different time zones. And with different cultures and with different sort of priorities based on their own country. That was a really interesting dynamic, like, really, the role was to come together and write up concepts note and make logic models and kind of learn those more tangible skills. But I think it was really interesting to kind of learn these, like other elements of global health, and I think with COVID, making the world a little bit smaller that I always like to make the funny joke that there’s been times where one hour I’m in a meeting in Nigeria, with people from Nigeria, and from London, and from Australia, working on an issue for disability inclusion, and then I close the Zoom call. And the next hour, I am in Papua New Guinea, working with people in Geneva, and in Papua New Guinea, and in Southeast Asia, working on an issue on gender based violence, and how like, given the pandemic, we can kind of do these different experiences and learn these different things, do a little bit of global health, all from the comfort of your computer at all.

Sujani 21:42
The- I wanted to go back to your ability to also pick up experience in other public health areas. But your last thought there about opening up your zoom and chatting with different people around the world. I think, the most powerful thing from all these volunteer experiences, and from my perspective that you’ve gathered, are all of these great relationships, like the network that you have built, I’m assuming through these volunteer roles must be pretty impressive.

Christina 22:11
Yeah, it’s- it’s definitely- it’s definitely helped. And if- and if nothing else, I’ve- I’ve met a lot of really interesting people on the way and if I were ever visit a couple countries, I might have a place to stay, or at least a familiar face. And it’s been really rewarding in that respect.

Sujani 22:30
Pretty cool that even your volunteer roles, you’re able to dabble into program planning and evaluation, even though that’s not an area that you did formal education on during your masters or even working on during your nine to five. And I’m just reflecting back at one of my favorite volunteer roles, which was with the Canadian Diabetes Association, it’s now been renamed to Diabetes Canada. And I remember the first needs assessment that I had ever done was through a volunteer role there. And I don’t know at least like I was in my undergrad when I was in that role. And there was this just like sense of comfortability to be able to pitch and propose projects in a volunteer role to say, hey, I am pretty much done, what I came to do in my volunteer role for the day I have these extra skills. Do you want to kind of like use that anywhere? Or are there any projects I can get involved in? Like, I remember feeling like there was no pressure to only stick within your role or job and to be able to like, go around and ask if there was anything else that you could do even like ask my manager like, these are the areas I want to build skills in, can I take on projects that align with those goals, and it was always like, open and it was always like, welcomed? When I kind of proposed, I don’t know if your experience has been the same?

Christina 23:50
Yeah, it’s been- it’s been very similar, where it’s a very non judgmental setting to try to learn something new. And because they’re not paying you, then it’s sort of like, well, you can’t necessarily expect that I’m coming in with a number of years in this area. Like in some cases, that’s the case, like I’ve done some volunteering, where I’m there to do epidemiology, and I’m there to do data analysis. And I’m happy to do that. But there’s also other settings where I wanted to learn a little bit about monitoring and evaluation and about program planning, and they’re happy to work with you that you’re you have an interest in that area. And given that you have such a drive to do it, you’re going to do it well, and you’re going to try to give it your 100%. So yeah, it’s been a very similar experience what you’ve described.

Sujani 23:50
So I think we probably convinced people that volunteer roles are as impactful as valuable as like a paid job, and that they should definitely reflect on the roles that they’ve held in volunteer capacity, pull out some of these skills and experiences and throw them onto their resume, their LinkedIn, and really use that for their application process. Just shifting gears a little bit for people who are thinking, okay, so you’ve convinced me, and I want to get into doing a bit more volunteer work while I’m in school so that I can bulk up my resume, you know, or similar to what you had explained, helping shape their interest in public health career or meeting people networking, for whatever reason, maybe. How do you go about identifying volunteer experiences, volunteer roles that you want to get involved in? Like, are you looking for formally posted volunteer jobs? Or are you finding an organization that you connect with finding somebody there and just pitching a role? How do you go about that process?

Christina 25:40
So for me, it’s definitely been a bit of a mix, with my role at United Nations that’s through their volunteering platform called un v. So it’s a very formal process of it’s not to Commerce on the application, but of going seeing the role and then applying to the role. Similarly, a website I like to use is called we change. So it’s really interesting platform where a bunch of NGOs will post like what type of volunteers they need, and then like, what their organization is about. And that’s how I got my role at Green Onyx. And that was, I guess, technically like a formal application. But it was much more like just answering a couple questions like under 100 words, so it wasn’t too cumbersome. But some of my other ones were much more informal. So I volunteer right now with an organization called Concept Foundation, which is based out of Geneva, they do like a lot of work on maternal and prenatal medications that would be used like prior to birth, but trying to find medications that could be used, that are not too expensive, or that don’t have a cold chain that’s really difficult to manage, given, I’ve done some work in the Pharmacoepidemiology space in the past. And then given my interest that I’ve talked about in maternal health, I came across this, I think just by if I remember correctly, just by Googling like, and trying to find things that would kind of hit a couple of my interests and volunteering for an organization that kind of meshed a couple of my interest areas. And I came across their website, I don’t remember if I emailed the, like general one, or like one of the coordinators, but I kind of just connected and then we had an initial meeting, like what are you expecting to do, and we’re not going to necessarily pay you and I said, you know, that’s fine, like I’m just interested in, in learning more about this and about the intersection between pharmacotherapy and, and maternal health and, and they were like, okay, I like to say with more of the informal, may be cold emailing, but more so just kind of informal applications that a lot of people aren’t going to turn their back to free labor and free work. So like, you know, there, there is the opportunity there. And I think another really good way is for the listeners who are still in school and undergrad or grad school, there’s those club fairs and joining clubs. And that’s a, that’s another really good avenue to identifying volunteer experiences in a pretty simple enough way.

Sujani 28:20
That’s a good point you made. And definitely I think looking for volunteer jobs that are posted is one way but if there is an organization, or a specific type of job or experience that you’re looking for, it doesn’t hurt to pitch those ideas to organizations, people in your network, people in your second or third connection network, there’s many ways to land a role that’s fitting for you and will definitely help in your public health career. I’m curious, and I’m sure our listeners are curious, how much time do you typically spend on your volunteer initiatives in a week?

Christina 29:01
It really varies sometimes if there’s like an event coming up, or I’ve been assigned a certain project, and I’ve got a lot to do for it. And I’ve kind of put my hand up to do some stuff. It’s a lot more, but I’ve sort of taken a mental health approach where I’ll do it for a couple hours a night, if that or if- if I have some free time I do- I do the stuff. But I would say no more than probably 10 hours a week, and I’m not doing all of them every week. I went through a volunteer experience where it was sort of like a leadership building workshop and we would meet Monday evening, twice a month, then there would be a little bit of sort of reflection work after that. But nothing too like cumbersome really what I used to do I don’t do it as much anymore, but what I used to do was Monday evening I would do my volunteering stuff for one place and then Tuesday night, the other place and so on, sometimes I would have maybe 20 minutes of stuff to do, like, you know, oh, let’s make an Instagram post. So kind of playing around in Canva. And then some nights it would be, I need to edit a whole manuscript. And so it’d be a little bit more time consuming, but, but all in all, I like to say that I’m pretty good at time management, not to be boastful. I do think that if you do make time for it, and it is possible to do these things, I have very much talked with the different organizations that I work with to set some boundaries, I am a full time employee, I have my evenings free, I’m privileged enough that I don’t necessarily need to work a second job right now. And I don’t have any children or dependents and no sick loved one. So I have a bit of free time in my evenings. So then I’m able to dedicate time to that, but at the same time setting to them that I can maybe volunteer with your organization for three or four hours a week. And most people are appreciative of that, that you’re giving your time.

Sujani 31:05
Yeah, that’s great. And I think those just setting boundaries and expectations early on is very important than the dimension on time management. I’m pretty sure you have great time management, just counting. Counting on LinkedIn, the active volunteering roles that-

Christina 31:21

Sujani 31:21
I think I’m seeing five, is that accurate?

Christina 31:24
I’m looking at my board right now. Yeah, that’s about accurate I have on my board, like what I need to do for each of them this week. But yeah, like a lot of it is not too bad. Like sometimes it will be that we’re writing a policy brief. So then there’s a lot going on, but then maybe we have to write one brief a month. So then that it’s kind of quiet for the rest of the month. And then at the beginning of the next month, it’s hectic again. So I’ve been able to sort of manage it and look at viable volunteering there. There’s not necessarily as many deadlines. So if I have a lot to do for one place one week, or like you’ve mentioned, there’s five. So if I’ve got a lot of stuff to do for two of them one week, and I do have something to do for another one. But it’s not necessarily a priority, or it’s not time sensitive priority, then I’ll do it the following week. And I really taken an approach where if I have time in my evenings, then I do it, if I need a week off because I’m moving to a new city, or I’m not feeling well, or whatever the reason might be like you’ve like kind of setting those boundaries. But you can kind of manage doing all of these things, and then also setting boundaries and having a life outside of all of them.

Sujani 32:40
That’s amazing. What advice would you have for students or early career professionals as it relates to volunteering as a way to help shape their public health careers?

Christina 32:52
I think as we’ve discussed, it really does offer a low stakes opportunity to learn something new, you’re applying for your first job and they want a certain skill, go volunteer, and you can potentially learn that skill. Or if you’re applying to an MPH program, and you want to have some quantitative work that you’ve done in the past, go and volunteer, doing something like that. And I think it allows you to then get those opportunities, be at an MPH, be at a career transition, be at that first job. I think the other piece of advice is that I know life is busy. I know school is busy, but you got to try to make time for it and time manage. And even if it’s just one volunteer place, and you put in two hours a week, just trying to kind of add that in. And the connections you’ll make, the friends you’ll make, the skills you’ll learn outside the classroom and workplaces are really, really valuable. And then I guess the final one would be just again on that mental health note that if you are doing a lot of volunteering, or if you are volunteering somewhere and they’re expecting a lot from you put up those boundaries. Or if you came into the volunteer role to learn how to do project management, and they are having you to fundraising, just making sure that you’re clear with them and you have those conversations about what it is that you’re hoping to get from the experience and you will be able to give more, do more if you’re doing something that aligns with- with what your intentions are.

Sujani 34:34
Oh, thanks so much for sharing those great pieces of advice towards the end but also for sharing your journey into volunteering and what you’ve been working on and how it’s helped you. I know I learned quite a bit and I’m kind of reigniting my- my love for volunteering. I do hope to get back into it as well. So thanks so much, Christina for joining me, joining our listeners and sharing a bit about you or public health journey with us.

Christina 35:01
No problem, I really appreciate being able to do the podcast.

Sujani 35:09
Hey, so I hope you enjoyed that episode. And as always, if you want to get the links and information mentioned in today’s episode, head over to And we’ll have everything there for you. And before you go, I want to tell you about our hands on intensive training program that empowers early public health professionals, recent graduates and students with the mindset skills and tools required to land a public health job, advancing your career and become future public health leaders. So if you’ve been feeling overwhelmed and uncertain about building your dream public health career, then we can help you through this program. And right now you can join the waitlist at And we’ll notify you when the next cohort opens up. And so 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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