How to Kickstart Your Career in Global Health with Mentorship

~Written by Suvi Ristolainen, RN, MPH

In our interconnected world, online communication and globalization offer increasing opportunities to meet new acquaintances from different corners of the Globe, yet the right channels to finding a dream job and like-minded colleagues is not always simple.

The global health field is constantly evolving and for many, this offers fascinating opportunities to move from one creative intervention to another interesting project. For others it is an ocean where navigation feels overwhelming, especially when there is uncertainty about one’s strengths and interests.

So then, what is the trick to sailing smoothly to the harbor of your dream job when beginning your career? The problem is that there is no perfect straight route. In addition to career advisors, YouTube videos, and job articles for young professionals, one influential compass could be a mentor. Mentors can play an essential role at the beginning of one’s career, especially one who is willing to give back to the global health community and is eager to hear fresh ideas from young minds.

In the Global Health Mentorships (GHMe) program, we are a group of global health-minded professionals with a vision to connect students and young professionals (SYPs) with the experts in their field. The aim of the GHMe program is to provide career guidance and boost leadership and networking skills in global health for small groups with similar interests.

We asked one of our initiators Camila Gonzales Beiras, PhD (from Global Health Next Generation Network) to reflect on the newly launched GHMe programme on why mentorship is important:

“Everyone needs a role model or mentor in all aspects of our life, but when it comes to our professional life, having someone to guide us at the start can make all the difference. In the world where global health is extremely multi-disciplinary and we are the first generation of ‘global health professionalswith specialized degrees on this subject, yet there is no such thing as [a] ‘global health job. This is the most multi-disciplinary area: every background can be redirected to health which means there is no defined or a [sic] written way to do things, which is why having a mentor in this field is so important for the new generation of global health professionals.”

When asked what is unique in this new mentorship project, she elaborated:

“Certainly the unique aspect is the new approach of ‘mentor groupsinstead of the traditional one-on-one mentor-student relationship. As global health professionals, we have to be ready to work in multidisciplinary groups to solve complex health issues. Learning how to work with professionals from completely different backgrounds is the key to creating long-lasting solutions in global health.”

Already on the first pilot program, which was launched in August 2015, GHMe has participants from 5 continents and across more than 22 countries. Each of our 28 mentors forms a group with 3-4 of our 83 SYPs. The GHMe program is run through the Global Health Next Generation Network (GHNGN) and the Swedish Network in International Health (SNIH). In GHMe, the mentoring groups have monthly gatherings with different themes and activities, such as global health career building and communication skills. The program uses different platforms for online communication between members, such as our own website, Twitter, and LinkedIn.

If you wish to join our next mentorship cycle (2016) and get updates, please sign up for our newsletter online at our website and follow us on Twitter @GHMentorships.