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The month of October was an exciting one! I officially joined the Public Health Institute (PHI) staff and attended my first Outreach event at Gallaudet University’s Career Fair. I love attending fairs and festivals and was excited to spend a rainy Friday representing the Global Health Fellows Program (GHFP) II. Over the past few months, I have been learning about the great global health opportunities that GHFP-II provides and was excited to share my enthusiasm with others. But I’m still new, so thankfully Senior Recruitment Coordinator, Christine Deloff joined me and I learned better how to articulate the work of GHFP-II.

We arrived at Gallaudet and were warmly greeted with smiles from Gallaudet staff and volunteers. With a student body of about 1,600 students, Gallaudet reminded me of the close-knit community of my alma mater, Earlham College, with a distinction that Gallaudet University is an institution of higher learning focused on creating a learning for people experiencing deafness or hard of hearing. What a unique environment! As Christine and I set up our booth, I observed groups of students excitedly talking about the career fair in a mixture of English and American Sign Language (ASL).

Gallaudet University is specifically designed to accommodate deaf and hard of hearing students. One of the ways that Gallaudet does this is through creating a community that emphasizes inclusion of all communication methods. Students and staff are encouraged to communicate using ASL at all times to help to break down the silos between people with deafness or difficulty hearing and others. Gallaudet provided us multiple interpreters to facilitate our communication about GHFP-II. Our main interpreter, Sue, gave us tips about communicating effectively and respectfully with an interpreter. See the box below for some of the tips Sue shared.

Tips for Communicating with an Interpreter

  • Introduce yourself to the interpreter and introduce him or her to your topic of discussion. Mention any business-specific jargon to help the interpreter anticipate how to best articulate those words.
  • When speaking with someone, address that person and not the interpreter.
  • Speak more slowly than you normally would. This gives time for the interpreter to express your message. Some words will even need to be spelled out, which takes additional time.
  • Pause frequently.
  • Speak in complete sentences. Avoid sentence fragments or changing your thought in the middle of the sentence. These things can lead to confusion for both the interpreter and the person to whom you are speaking.
  • Don’t be afraid to use natural body language and hand gestures. The interpreter will help in communicating your words and their inflections.

During the Career Fair, I met a woman who was currently working in higher education management. She spoke about how she would like to work in a position where she was able to help people. Originally, she was thinking of a health career, but after talking with me about GHFP-II Fellowship openings she became intrigued in a career in global health. She asked questions about the work Fellows do, and the skills and experience required, and she shared her previous work experience. She picked up a copy of one of our open Fellowship positions that focused on Health Systems Management, and her face lit up with a smile as she read the scope of work. The woman turned to Christine and me and started ticking off boxes of required experience that she already possessed. With a huge smile on her face she shook our hands and continued to look at the SOW as she walked away.
Explaining GHFP-II Fellowships can be difficult. They are unlike other types of fellowships because positions arise specifically to address the complex global health challenges that USAID works to solve. GHFP-II assists in building a diverse workforce that can leverage language skills and cultural awareness, in additional to clinical skills, to develop solutions. We are able to provide career development resources to a wide variety of people interested in the field of global health, and help new perspectives and voices find their paths in this field. Through our outreach program, GHFP-II provides useful and relevant resources at many career levels, and for many types of abilities.
After spending an entire afternoon at Gallaudet introducing people to GHFP-II, I learned that the following services are among our most popular:

  • Free Informational Interviews: You can schedule an appointment with one of our program staff to review your current resume and cover letter. This is an amazing opportunity to get real feedback from people who evaluate resumes all day!
  • Email Listserv: The most draining part of job hunting is actually finding the open positions. Applying to our listserv will send new openings straight to your inbox. Sign up here!
  • USB Wristbands: I love that we give people all of our documents loaded on a handy USB flash drive that can be worn as a bracelet! This way people are less likely to lose papers, and can share the information with other job-hunting friends.

Riding back to the office at the end of the day, I paused to reflect on all of the interesting, driven, curious people I met, and I felt a sense of fulfillment. I am thankful to have a job that allows me to connect others to exciting and fulfilling opportunities in global health.