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A Guide to Applying to Public Health Careers

Students pose for a photo at the 2023 end of year celebration

It’s never too early to start planning for the next step in your public health career.

The Dornsife School of Public Health offers career counseling and resources to support our students and alumni during their job search process, including resume and cover letter guidance, workshops, and networking opportunities.

Our undergraduate and graduate students begin building the foundation for a successful job search while in school by acquiring practical experience and exploring career options.

Keep reading for steps on how to find a public health job that aligns with your degree, goals, and interests.

Update Application Materials

Develop a strong public health cover letter and resume

A strong public health cover letter will:

  • Include specific details about the employer and the job/internship opening
  • Convey how you plan to translate your public health skills and abilities into ideas that make the organization better
  • Motivate the employer to read your attached resume

The cover letter should briefly describe some high points of your background. It is a chance to showcase experiences or details that are not found on your résumé, such relevant research experience or responsibilities within a student organization.

Your public health resume should highlight any and all public health experience. "It’s important to promote all of your public health experience. Any practical experience in a gap year or volunteer role would provide important experience,” says Amy Carroll-Scott, PhD, MPH, associate professor and chair of the Department of Community Health and Prevention.

Dornsife offers resume and cover letter guidance through our Professional Development Series. You can also review Steinbright Career Development Center’s cover letter guidance for recommendations on the content of your cover letter.

Take a self-assessment

An evaluation can help pinpoint how to highlight your skills and experiences on your resume and during interviews.

The Myers-Briggs Type Indicator and the Strong Interest Inventory are available to Drexel students for free through Steinbright Career Development Center.

Update online professional accounts

Polishing your profile ensures that your latest accomplishments are highlights and aids in networking and job searching.

You should create or update your profile on LinkedIn, Drexel’s Dragon Network, and the University-wide job portal, Handshake.

Gather Information and Seek Advice

Talk to a career counselor

Schedule an appointment with Dornife’s Career Services team or Drexel’s Steinbright Career Development Center to review your resume and discuss career aspirations, skill development, and goals. For international students CareerPalz provides actionable guidance on career growth.

Attend career workshops

Dornsife regularly hosts events related to resume writing, interviewing, mock interviews, career fairs, and more. 

Conduct informational interviews

Arrange meetings with contacts in a public health job that interest you. Review tips on how to get started with informational interviews from the Steinbright Career Development Center.

Start networking

Drexel’s Dragon Network is a professional networking platform for students, alumni, and the Drexel community. You can reach out to those in a specific location, major, organization, or field of study. Dragon Network makes networking easy, even if you aren’t a natural networker.

On LinkedIn the Dornsife School of Public Health group is open for alumni and students to engage and the Drexel Alumni Networking Group has more than 18,000 alumni. Students can also attend Dornsife's Coffee & Convos events to hear public health professionals share information about their career paths over coffee.

Locally, PHYLA Philly can help young public health professionals grow their network. Nationally, public health professional organizations APHA and ASPPH offer networking opportunities.

Identify Employment Opportunities

Search organization websites

Research the types of organizations within your field of study, and explore their websites to learn about available positions for public health professionals. Make sure to check out Drexel Library’s helpful compilation of resources for public health careers.

Search job databases

Dornsife students have access to Symplicity and Handshake. Also, graduating students may submit a reciprocity request that allows you to search job listings at any accredited school of public health in the country.

National public health job databases include Explore Health Careers, APHA Public Health Career Mart, and Public Health Jobs.

Ways to Feel Prepared for a Public Health Interview

Once you get an interview then it's time to prepare. Advanced preparation includes:

  • Conducting research on the company and industry
  • Conducting research on the people that may be interviewing you
  • Preparing questions for the end of the interview
  • Practicing interview responses

The Steinbright Career Development Center outlines on interviewing essentials, sample interview questions, and tips for coping with interview stress.

All Drexel students can practice their interview responses using Big Interview, a video interviewing platform complete with video tutorials and practice software. Register for a free account using your Drexel email/credentials.

Dressing for your public health interview

Your best choice for public health interview attire is neat, clean, and conservative. In most cases, suits or pantsuits are the best choice. If the interview is with an organization that is non-corporate or if you do not own a suit, then alternatives include dresses in a solid color, sports jackets, blazers, neatly pressed slacks, and skirts. It's best to avoid excessive jewelry, cologne/perfume, or makeup.

When setting up your interview with a non-corporate employer it is acceptable to ask, "What is the appropriate dress in your office/for this meeting?" When in doubt lean towards conservative. For video interviews you should still dress professionally, just as you would for an in-person interview.

Review Dornsife's complete list of guidelines for public health attire for an interview. If you are unsure about what to wear to a public health interview you can always ask a member of our Student Affairs team.

Sending a thank you letter

After the interview take the next step of sending a personalized "thank you” message, which can help you stand out during the decision process.

Get Started on Your Public Health Career Journey

Put in the effort, stay positive, and you will find the job for you.

If you are interested in learning more about Drexel Dornsife’s public health degree programs, request more information to speak with a member of our admissions team.

Request more information

Apply today