As a PHHP master’s student in public health, Omari Richins began researching job opportunities a year before graduation, trying to learn the process, the different types of roles and becoming a “little bit obsessive,” as he puts it. His efforts paid off when he secured a fellowship with the Mat-Su Health Foundation in Wasilla, Alaska, months before graduation.
Now as The Public Health Millennial, Richins, who earned his M.P.H. with a concentration in population health management in 2019, provides career information for students, early-career professionals and people seeking a career change to public health. What started as a way to fill evening hours while he was living in Alaska and in a time zone four hours behind friends and family, has grown into a blog, social media platforms and a career stories podcast featuring guests working in a diverse range of public health positions.
“Public health touches on so many things; the field is so expansive,” said Richins, who currently serves as a health improvement program officer at the Kate B. Reynolds Charitable Trust, an organization focused on improving health and quality of life for residents with low income in Forsyth County, North Carolina, and across the state. “The Public Health Millennial is for any public health enthusiast who is interested in learning about different paths and techniques people use to get where they are in public health.”
Find The Public Health Millennial on the web at thephmillennial.com, on Instagram at @thephmillennial and on many podcast platforms, including Apple Podcast, Google Podcast and Spotify.
By Omari Richins
By starting my blog and then launching my podcast, “The Public Health Millennial Career Stories Podcast,” I’ve learnt many insights into navigating your career. I have four tips I’d like to share with UF public health graduates.
- Build your brand. Whether you like it or not, you already have a personal and professional brand. It is how you show up in work and life. Be proactive in developing your brand. Use the power of LinkedIn for professional networking, post your thoughts, share articles, interact with others, write articles, and ask questions. There are so many ways for you to build you brand in today’s world. The important thing is you start being proactive in developing it. Cultivate your “why” and you’ll have an easier time with building a brand.
- Be active in networking. Networking is less about who you know and more about who knows you. Who have you made an impression on that will bring your name up in conversations when you’re not in the room? You do this by providing value to your network. Networking, a.k.a. “building real professional relationships,” should not stop when you graduate, start a new job, get a promotion or even if you’ve been in your role for 10 years. Networking in a continual process of offering value and building relationships. Also remember to network up, laterally and down. Meaning network with those ahead of you professionally, those who are your peers, and those who look up to you as a professional. Network continually and in all directions.
- Prioritize learning. Public health as a professional field is becoming more competitive. Take the time to find ways to set yourself apart from the candidate pool. Now more than ever, you need to keep learning and growing. Learning comes in many forms, including, but not limited to, chatting with colleagues, networking, informational interviews, certifications, courses, books, articles, podcasts, documentaries, groups, associations, YouTube, Instagram and public health communities. Don’t forget to set aside time for self-reflection and self-learning.
- Don’t be afraid to change your mind. Changing your mind is a superpower. Public health is a vast field with many ways to use the skillsets you have gained. We don’t know what we don’t know. Sometimes the dream position isn’t all that it is cut out to be — and that’s alright. Keep learning, building experience and skillsets, and networking, and you’ll find your path soon enough. There are many public health careers that don’t exist yet, keep searching and try innovative nontraditional as paths well.
Lastly, I just wanted to say feeling uncomfortable most likely means that you are growing. So, try to get more comfortable with being uncomfortable.