The pilot program increased graduating students’ confidence in navigating their careers after graduation.
Students graduating with a Master of Public Health (MPH) or a Master of Science in Global Health degree are met with many career prospects; however, navigating today’s job market can be daunting. The Mason Public Health Mentor Program pilot aims to support graduating Global and Community Health (GCH) graduate students by pairing them with GCH alumni mentors, who provide professional guidance and career advice in the public health field.
The pilot mentorship program had successful outcomes for both students and alumni. Students reported increased confidence in their academic and professional endeavors, while alumni valued the chance to give back to their Mason community by sharing insight into the public health field with future graduates.
“The program is designed to connect Mason students with someone who also graduated from Mason–who has been in their shoes and can provide guidance on an individual level,” said Kelly Beckwith, assistant director of academic programs for GCH and organizer of the mentorship pilot. “I’ve been at Mason for nearly six years and have seen so many of our graduates become accomplished alumni. I wanted to provide them with an opportunity to connect with current students, which strengthens the Mason Nation and the field of public health.”
In collaboration with other GCH faculty, Beckwith paired students with alumni working in the students’ desired field and supplied the pairs with a workbook to help lead the discussion on professional development and understanding the current job market.
The pilot program during the 2021-22 school year allowed students and alumni mentors to explore topics on career readiness, such as practicing mock interviews, incorporating work-life balance in careers, confronting imposter syndrome, and identifying workplace bias.
Reena Rhim, a 2022 MPH graduate, found the mentor program helpful with her job search.
“I am so thankful for this [mentorship] program,” Rhim said. “I was able to build a deeper connection with my mentor and [explain] what I was going through. The mentorship allowed me to ask questions and gain honest feedback —specifically on what to expect during my practicum, outside of graduation, and when working in the public health field. I had several concerns about job searching after graduation, and my mentor addressed my concerns with open and honest advice, which genuinely helped me succeed in finding a job.”
After graduating, Rhim accepted a position as a health policy project analyst at Discern Health, where she conducts research on health care topics as well as analyzes and interprets health care legislation and regulations related to federal value-based payment programs.
Elizabeth Bramhall, a 2014 MPH alumna and Rhim’s mentor in the program, enjoyed sharing professional guidance and building a professional relationship with Rhim.
“Having the opportunity to give back and make even a small difference in someone's career is extremely rewarding,” said Bramhall, who works as a biological safety officer for the U.S. Army. “My goals for entering the mentorship program were to engage with the current MPH program and to be a sounding board for my mentee. I believe I met these goals and would like to continue to participate in the mentorship program in the future.”
Bramhall encourages Mason students to seek support from alumni members when entering the professional workforce.
“Many alums love to find ways to give back,” Bramhall said. “They may not be able to get you a job directly, but they may be able to set you up with more contacts and open your eyes to new career paths that you didn't know existed before.”
For Beckwith, the pilot program gave her the opportunity to help more students advance their professional development and career prospects.
“I hope that future students see this as an exciting opportunity for them to get a leg up on the job market as they leave Mason and go out into the public health workforce,” Beckwith said. “By strengthening their career development skills, as well as strengthening the connection between students and alumni, I hope we can make an even bigger impact on the public’s health throughout the area.”
For questions about the Fall 2022-Spring 2023 Mason Public Health Mentor Program, please reach out to Kelly Beckwith at firstname.lastname@example.org.