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Your experiences prior and during the program all represent steps in your career development. It is important that you capitalize on all the opportunities and resources available to you both in and outside of the classroom. Thinking about and planning for your career should begin early in your academic career and not only near the end when you graduate.  The majority of graduates from our programs have had job placements within 3 months of graduation.

Career Paths

There are four main career paths you can explore with your degree in public/population health: academia, government, industry, and non-profit organizations.  Each career path offers its own pros and cons. It important to ask yourself what is most important to you. For instance, is salary more important than other factors? Or are non-monetary aspects more important such as location, meaningfulness or purpose of work, available resources, staffing, job flexibility, etc.? In addition, it is important to consider cost and standard-of-living measures as well as available job benefits or options.

We encourage students to do their own research on the strengths and weaknesses of each career path, but here some general points you may want to keep in mind that were gathered by program staff at career seminars or workshops:

  • It is easier to move from academia to industry versus the opposite.
  • Generally, there is room for salary negotiation in industry and academia and less so in the other career paths -- particularly with government.
  • Master’s level jobs are most commonly are found in the government and non-profit career paths.
  • This can be highly variable, but typical salary levels from low to high for each career path are: government, non-profit, academia, industry

Each year the Graduate School, professional conferences, and even the department itself lead special information sessions about career paths geared specifically towards students. Students should take advantage of all these sessions regardless of their year in the program in order to learn more about different career paths or career strategies in general. Students should always search for student-tailored sessions at the professional conferences they attend. Campus sessions are announced via the student listserv and/or program newsletters. One campus event held annually is the Life Sciences Career Day which designed to help doctoral and postdoctoral students in the life sciences learn about career choices ranging from teaching to law to industry positions.

Professional Development

There are several ways students can maximize their marketability and also learn about what they would enjoy most in a future career path. Students can prepare for and learn more about various career paths by using the following professional development strategies:

  • Seek advice from faculty, other mentors, and alumni. For more information visit the Advising section.
  • Search UW Madison Events Calendar for professional development offerings.
  • Join and participate in professional listservs and associations. For more information visit the Professional Organizations section.
  • Attend conferences where you can network with exhibitors, presenters, and colleagues.
  • Finance your education through an assistantship, fellowship, or traineeship (gain valuable experience while also paying for your education). Visit the Financing your Education section for more information.
  • Explore volunteer opportunities, part time employment, or full time employment relevant to your degree or career aspirations.
  • Showcase your work by presenting a poster or delivering an oral presentation at a conference (start small and build upon your success).
  • Gain experience with grant writing or submitting a publication (either individually or with faculty).
  • Subscribe or review archived issues of GradConnections newsletter or GradLink@Madison newsletter for information about workshops, funding, leadership, job and service opportunities, social events and more!
  • Consider electives that might help move you closer to potentially completing another degree, a certificate, or a specific PhD Minor which can help enhance your degree and future marketability.
  • Add to your credentials by sitting for one or more certification exams in your area of interest.
  • Develop your skills! Visit the Graduate School’s Professional Development website for resources/workshops on grant writing, teaching, mentoring, research, awards, and much more!
  • Expand your horizons! Attend department and campus seminars of interest.
  • Apply (or nominate someone) for an award (this can lead to additional recognition or skills you can put in your resume/CV while also potentially subsidizing your work).
  • Maximize marketability by continually updating and formatting your resume/CV for optimal impact (consider transferable skills; make format readable and logically organized; consider a functional resume; use action verbs and/or buzz words in the field; obtain feedback from others; etc.)

Job Search

It is advised that you begin your job search early; often months before your graduate. This can be particularly true if you intend to apply for a fellowship position. There are several ways students can learn about jobs. The easiest way is by reviewing job postings. However, many desirable jobs are never made public and are only discovered through networking contacts or word-of-mouth. Thus, take advantage of all the connections you made through your professional development strategies to learn about potential job openings. Be sure to let them know what type of position you are looking for, send them a copy of your resume/CV, and thank them for any assistance they may be able to offer. It is also recommended that you personalize your message with respect to how you are connected/know that individual.

Besides learning about un-posted job openings through your networking contacts, here are other possible places to learn about jobs or to prepare for your job search:

Please note:  The Weekly Update is suspended during the summer months, therefore, any job/internship announcements that the MPH program receives during the summer will be posted below:

For Employers

Our graduates leave our degree programs with an interdisciplinary focus that is growing more and more valued and desirable regardless of the career setting. Please take a few moments to review the impressive profiles of our current students and upcoming graduates for individuals to potentially recruit for positions in your organization. If you have questions or would like to request further information (such as an updated resume/CV) about any of our students, please do not hesitate to contact any of the students directly or to contact any of our program staff (who can also put you in touch with their advisors or mentors). You may also contact our program staff  at any time to request that we post or circulate a job announcement to our students.