Student Highlight – Though she is not a student, Brenda Thompson recently joined the College of Public Health (COPH) as director of career services, to serve the needs of students, as well as alumni. Here, Brenda gives us some insight into her role in the COPH.
What services are available?
I’m available to meet with students and alumni to discuss any aspect of their career development, including resume review and mock interviews; interests, strengths, and weaknesses; and action steps for career development.
In 2013, we will launch an online job listing for COPH students and alumni. I encourage everyone to keep an eye on our webpage , which will feature more information on these services, a link to the job opportunities list, and additional career development resources.
When should students connect with you?
Students can connect with me at any point during their time at the COPH. For example,
When students begin their graduate studies, I can guide students to organizations, individuals, and experiences that will help them be more marketable upon graduation.
Three to six months before graduation (earlier if you are considering fellowships) we can discuss job search strategies and how to identify professional references, and review tips for resumes and cover letters.
When preparing to apply or interview for a job, I can do a resume and cover letter review, and then a mock interview. I can offer suggestions on how to frame student experiences in ways that will be relevant and meaningful to employers.
While some things require an appointment so that I have time to prepare, I welcome students to stop by my office (COPH 3054) anytime to chat about their public health career!
What do you want COPH students to know about their career development?
Be confident, proactive, and creative. This is a wonderful time to be entering the field of public health! The evidence base has never been stronger for our field. However, many employers are facing reduced budgets, so students need to be strategic about their professional development. I would encourage students to connect with as many COPH faculty and public health research and practice opportunities as possible. Supplementing your classroom learning can really make the difference when it comes time to apply for jobs.
Why Omaha and why the COPH?
I first came to Omaha in 2006 as a field assignee with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, with every intention of returning to Atlanta after the two year assignment was completed. I fell in love with Omaha, and as I saw the COPH starting to take shape, I realized that there would be wonderful opportunities in public health here. It has been exciting to see the fast growth in the college, and I couldn’t be more pleased to now be a part of it all! I have always been drawn to the academic environment because it is inspiring to be surrounded by students, staff, and faculty who are dedicated to learning, asking questions, and finding innovative solutions to improving health.
Anything else we should know about you?
I have my MPH in global health, from the Rollins School of Public Health at Emory University in Atlanta. I have dabbled in quite a few areas of public health, from health impact assessments to operating a needle exchange; from ethnographic research in rural Mexico to urban maternal and child health in the United States; from local health departments to Federally Qualified Health Centers to the CDC. While these experiences have left me an expert in very little, they have positioned me well for this job! If I don’t have information related to a student’s interests, there is a good chance that someone in my network will, and I look forward to making those connections.