What skills do I need to be successful in the Global Health job market?


Qualities and Skills Public Health Employers Want From You

Global public health professionals work in various settings such as government agencies, international organizations, hospitals, educational and research institutions, for profit and non-profit organizations and a variety of other workplaces. The type of organization and the scope of work will impact what skills employers look for when hiring prospective employees; however, there are several essential qualities, skills, and competencies that are desirable to all employers. Regardless of the workplace, employers will expect you to have skills such as communication skills (verbal and written), strong work ethic, teamwork skills, initiative, interpersonal skills, problem-solving skills, analytical skills, flexibility/adaptability, computer skills, and perhaps some specialized or technical skills.

Some employers hire global public health professionals to design, develop and implement health education programs and support services for targeted populations. Having strong skills in any of the aforementioned areas will help you understand the core values of the organization, which will enable you to interact effectively with other team members, analyze problems and develop efficient recommendations to achieve the ultimate goal(s) of the organization.

Overcoming the Common Dilemma

You may have searched for internships or job opportunities in global health and seen the phrase "international work experience required". You might have asked yourself how can I get international experience if the positions require that you already have it. There are various ways to gain meaningful international experiences to advance your global health career. Do not limit where you look for these opportunities and what types of programs you look for. You can gain international public health experience in various forms such as internships, short term consultancies, university sponsored or credit-based programs, and/or volunteering with community organizations, among other options.

The Center for Global Health offers several international internship opportunities in several countries around the world. These internships can be used towards fulfilling the Master of Public Health internship requirements at the School of Public Health.

Examples of global health internship opportunities that are offered by our Center include:

1) Social Marketing/Health Promotion in Monrovia, Liberia (with Population Services International)
2) Field Epidemiology and Community Health in Ddegeya Village, Uganda (with Engeye Health)
3) Environmental Health in Cluj Napoca, Romania (with Babes Bolyai University)
4) Epidemiology in Gujarat State, India (with the Indian Institute)

When researching internship options ask yourself what skills or knowledge will you gain and practice during the internship experience, and how can these skills and knowledge relate to your career goals. These experiences should not just be resume fillers, instead you should use internships as your opportunity to show and confirm your interest, motivation, and commitment to the field of global public health. Most internships are unpaid or provide a small stipend, while other internships may cover housing or airfare. The U Albany School of Public Health Peace Corps Field Placement Program , for example, is a twenty-seven month volunteer opportunity that covers living, medical, and other basic expenses. To learn more about applying for the Peace Corps Field Placement Program at the U Albany School of Public Health, visit our program page for more detailed information.

Although early overseas experiences often provide limited financial rewards, they offer invaluable opportunities. Try to view these internships and other abroad experiences as an investment in your career. International experiences offer excellent networking opportunities and can connect you to contacts who may be critical to furthering your global health career. Another way to gain meaningful international experience is to participate in short-term educational exchange and service learning opportunities. Our Center sponsors educational exchange trips to Costa Rica and the Dominican Republic.

The trip to Costa Rica is organized by the Center in conjunction with the University of Costa Rica School of Public Health. The Comparative Health Systems Exchange Visit to Costa Rica provides participants service learning opportunities to learn how the healthcare system in Costa Rica is organized, attend meetings with local health officials, and visit health promotion program activities in the field. Participants will also have the opportunity to visit the University of Costa Rica and collaborate with the students from their School of Public Health; tour the capital city of San Jose and other sites; learn about the history and culture of Costa Rica; and have time to visit volcanoes, rainforests, and the beach.        

The trip to the Dominican Republic is organized in conjunction with Community Service Alliance, a non-profit Dominican organization founded and run by a UAlbany School of Public Health alumnus/Department of Health (DOH) Axelrod Scholar. The educational exchange and service learning trip to Dominican Republic enables participants to learn about the country's health care delivery system from representatives at the Ministry of Health, and provides participants the opportunity to serve those who are less fortunate. Work for the service learning project will take place in the rural communities near the city of El Seibo in the interior of the country.

Starting your international experience domestically

If there are outside constraints that limit your ability to intern or volunteer overseas, begin your global public health experience in your own community. Try to find opportunities to volunteer or work with immigrant or refugee communities in your local area, learn a new language that will enable you to work in multiple countries all over the world, immerse yourself in cultural experiences and events, or take a class in global health to be informed about leading global public health challenges and innovative solutions to address these problems. Our Center offers a Graduate Certificate in Global Health Studies. Visit our CGH Programs page to learn more about our Graduate Certificate in Global Health Studies.

Examples of other ways to keep engaged include:

1) Join a diverse online global community such as Global Health Delivery Online to learn, connect to and discuss with other health care professionals about challenges in health care delivery.

2) Join the Women Leaders in Global Health Initiative (WLGHI) to support increasing access to leadership positions for women in global health. The movement is an initiative of the Global Health Council (GHC), a leading organization in the global health field which supports and connects advocates, implementers, private sector and stakeholders around global health priorities. In order to effect social change, the WLGHI focuses on the strategic priority areas advocacy, networking, mentorship, and capacity building.         

3) Stay up to date by reading books and articles on the latest development in global public health. For example, the Lancet Global Health journal is an open access journal that covers critical health issues around the world.

4) Network and volunteer with local organizations that will provide you opportunities that are relevant to your interests in global public health, those that will help you develop transferable skills applicable to a career in global health.

5) Join and participate in the Global Health Mini-University (Mini-U), an annual day-long event for global health professionals and students. The Mini-U was developed by the USAID Global Health Bureau, the George Washington University Milken School of  Public Health, and the USAID Global Health Professional and Organizational Development (GHPOD) Project. The event is free and open to the public.


10 Qualities and skills public health employers want from you. MPH Programs List: Advocates for public health education. Retrieved on October 9, 2015, from http://mphprogramslist.com/10-qualities-and-skills-public-health-employers-want-from-you/.

USAID. Resources for job seekers. Global Health Fellows II. Retrieved on October 20, 2015, from http://recruitment.ghfp.net/

Rollins R. (2014). Finding a job in global health: Advice from five experts. Partners in Health. Retrieved on October 15, 2015, from http://www.pih.org/blog/finding-a-job-in-global-health-advice-from-five-experts.