In November 2015, the Global Health Fellows Program (GHFP) II participated in an online career fair focused on opportunities for people with disabilities. GHFP-II is the premier Fellowship program of the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) that supports its health programming worldwide, and fosters a diverse and inclusive next generation of global health professionals. GHFP-II is implemented by the Public Health Institute (PHI), which has an Equal Employment Opportunity and Affirmative Action (EEO/AA) policy that provides equal consideration to all applicants, regardless of physical or mental disability, and supports USAID in hiring technically excellent global health professionals.
The virtual career fair was organized by Bender Consulting, a disability employment advocacy group, and was the second virtual fair GHFP-II joined with this group. The virtual career fair platform has been growing in popularity, and appealed to job seekers for its accessibility and ease of use, with special accommodations for people with many different abilities. GHFP-II took advantage of reaching diverse applicants in many geographic locations, noting that job seekers from 25 states, and a few Minority Serving Institutions (MSIs) chatted with recruiters. For several hours, GHFP-II staff talked online with professionals and students at all levels seeking information about the field of global health. Virtual participants ranged from students at the bachelor’s- and master’s-level to job seekers with JD and PhD degrees. Chat room attendees were often new to the field of global health, and GHFP-II provided real-time answers, helping them make the connections between their studies and expertise, and essential skills and focus areas in global health. GHFP-II fielded a few questions about eligibility and accommodations, assuring people of PHI’s extensive EEO/AA policy, with provisions throughout the hiring process and employment. GHFP-II used the chat room features to provide documents for download, like Top 10 Resume Tips and information on GHFP-II Fellowships and Internships. Chat room participants found these resources particularly helpful. In all, GHFP-II met online with 77 people, including some who were good matches for currently open positions. This work potentially opened career paths for individuals with disabilities, and increased the diversity in the pool of global health professionals from which USAID can draw talent to meet complex global challenges.