This episode continues the discussion with Dan Rutz, who shares his successful 30 year journey through radio and television broadcasting where he was able to develop and use his expertise in communication to advance public health. His career path includes success with the Cable News Network (CNN), US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), World Health Organization (WHO) as well as his current initiative called My Growing Edge. Be sure to listen to episode #21, which is part 1 of the interview.
Dan gives advice and tips to recent graduates who are are interested in a public health career:
In general, Dan says that your decision to pursue a career in public health demonstrates a genuine commitment to a life of service.
Public health requires a great deal of patience, not only in what you hope to accomplish but also in getting your foot in the door.
There is value in seeking opportunities at the local level through volunteer engagements and health department opportunities.
Start by becoming a keen observer of what’s going on around you, and ask yourself why it matters to you (identify your passion). He says that when you do that you will begin to ask relevant important questions which will inspire and drive you forward. He shared an example from his personal journey to further emphasize this point.
He recommended volunteering whenever possible and explained how you gain experience and how your efforts impress future employers. It gives you an edge over others and helps you fine tune your own interests.
Its best if you can volunteer as a student but if not then take whatever job you can after school, gain the experience you need, and then move into the job or career position that you really want. He says to “develop an escape plan” because life is too short to be stuck in a career field that you’re truly not happy with.
Remember that you all have something to offer. Professional connections and relationships are reciprocal, so think about what you can give or what you have to offer (even as a student) and not just what you can get from the other person or organization.
We don’t often consider faith as a component of initiatives, but we should at least be aware and open to it. There is a connection between faith and public health.
Tips for people interested in careers with large agencies like CDC
Dan says that the CDC is the world’s elite public health entity, and is pretty choosy and selective because it can be. Getting into a federal position is difficult if you are not specifically trained in an area of need.
Some will get lucky, but for most people, getting into CDC will require paying one’s dues at other agencies, including state health departments, and aligning with contractors who CDC and others like USAID rely on for a high percentage of their workforce.
A good strategy may be to start with a city or state public health job, and work your way into CDC
He suggested finding a area of interest where there is a great need and shortage of expertise. He gave an example of veterinary public health.
USAID is a good option; often peace corp opportunities that lead to CDC jobs
USAID is the Lead US Government agency that works to end extreme global poverty and enable resilient, democratic societies to realize their potential.
Dan enjoys mentoring, lecturing, and putting together workshops on a host of public health topics, including effective risk and crisis communication, media engagement, emerging infectious diseases, vaccination promotion, HIV/AIDS control, and ending domestic and other forms of gender based violence.
Previously (in part 1), Dan discussed My Growing Edge, his current initiative:
At this stage in his life and career, Dan is especially concerned with ending gender-based violence, which is predominantly an issue of men abusing women and girls.It is a universal problem and he is working hard to bring together international perspectives that allow and encourage men to become accountable for their own behavior, and for each other.He believes that there is a lot of confusion over gender roles but he see only “Win-Win” possibilities as we help one another find respect for others starting with self-respect which is often lacking among those with abusive tendencies.
He says that there is no excuse for the behavior in question here, but his approach is to try to get to the underlying root of the problem/issue. My Growing Edge is a safe place to have these discussions with men.
He made a point of saying that he has experienced a rich full career and now feels as though he has an opportunity to give back and help others who are developing their careers. He doesn’t have the need to make money anymore. He’s still healthy and loves people and problem solving.
If you are interested in working with Dan on this initiative (My Growing Edge), then I encourage you to reach out to him.