January was a busy month for the PHI/CDC Global Health Fellowship Program as we launched our website and opened applications for our very first recruitment cycle. Today, we are sharing an inside account of the experience, and what it’s like to be a recruiter in the global health field, from our Recruitment & Fellowship Support Specialist, Chanel Adikuono.
- What draws you to work in recruitment in the global health field?
Although I did not begin my career in recruitment or global health, I started working in recruitment through my previous position with the International Rescue Committee as an Employment Specialist. I provided workforce assistance to refugees and asylees by identifying industries and roles that best fit them and finding their first entry level positions here in the U.S. Soon, however, I wanted to start working with different populations, specifically with young professionals.
I originally entered the international development field in 2013 with a focus in international education and development with a gender equality lens, which shares many parallels with the global health field. However, it is difficult to discuss international education without considering the barriers to accessing education that women and girls, particularly those in developing countries, face including a lack of family planning services or gender-based violence in the home and classroom.
I gained my first exposure to global health working in family planning/reproductive health as a Community of Practice on Systematic Approaches of Family Planning/Reproductive Health Coordinator for a USAID funded project Evidence2Action. I then became a Pathways Fellow with the USAID Africa Sustainable Development Bureau, Education Department project managing research on, “The Effects of School-Related Gender Based Violence on Academic Performance,” which you can read more here.
Now, I help support global health fellows, such as Meagan Cain, who does impactful work in preventing of Gender Based Violence. Although, I am no longer working from a theoretical approach or in the field, I come to work every day knowing I support bright and talented rising global health professionals who are making an impact on the lives of girls and women in developing countries. It is rewarding to know I am continuing to be a gender equality champion in a different capacity by helping fellows successfully conduct their work.
- What was this year’s recruitment process like for you?
For our first year of implementing the program, the recruitment process consisted of building the systems needed for a successful application period. This included developing our recruitment strategy, timeline, and process; keeping up with trends in recruitment for global health fellowships; building an intuitive, clearly instructed, and technically seamless fellowship application portal; and appealing to and capturing quality young global health professionals within a small window of the busiest recruitment season of the year. It was a whirlwind to say the least! With the support of the incredible program team, completing the mountainous list of tasks became attainable.
Overall, I am happy to have received a favorable number of applications and hit our program target goals in our first year. As I read through and review our submissions, I am amazed and inspired by the applicant’s stories, work experience, and credentials. More importantly, I gained many lessons-learned out of the first year’s recruitment process I hope to implement going into our second year of planning for the program.
- Do you have advice for next year’s applicants?
As cliché as this sounds, one piece of advice I can provide to future applicants is to be confident in your skills and experiences. As Rumi said, “The universe is not outside of you. Look inside yourself; everything that you want, you already are.” You have all the tools and talents within yourself to submit a compelling application, so trust yourself and tap into your creative self!
Your track essay is one of the most important components of your application in the review process, so really spend time working on it. Do not submit the same essay for each track, rather imagine each track as its own independent job application. The last thing you want to do is look like you are only putting in the bare minimum. Do your research and understand global health trends. Tie the work that you have done in the past with your future goals on how you can contribute to the global health field. Lastly, read all the fellowship requirements and prompts carefully.
- How does this work affect the global health workforce?
Our mission for the program is to provide exciting and viable training opportunities to recent graduates who have a strong academic background but seek more first-hand work experience. By bridging the gap between their academic knowledge and practical experiences, while exposing them to professional development and networking resources, we help to prepare these talented young professionals to meet the actual needs of the global health workforce.
Part of this need includes looking for candidates that exhibit the best soft skills as well. When we are recruiting, we keep in mind that, while it is important to select the right talent with the right technical skills, there is a high need for individuals with the emotional intelligence and culture sensitivity to work on the ground. Those who exhibit empathy and understanding of working with vulnerable populations in a multi-faceted environment contribute greatly to the global health field.
Recruitment, and workforce development in general, goes beyond finding people with fancy degrees and all the right technical skills. Undoubtedly, the work of recruiting aids in developing a more empathetic, diverse, and culturally intelligent global health workforce.