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Career Services Spotlight Transcripts

Transcript: Landing a Dream Job with the Center for Disease Control

RECORDING OF: YouTube Video Career Spotlight: Landing a Dream Job with the Center for Disease Control

TRANSCRIBED: September 16, 2015

FOR: Walden University


Lisa: Hello, I'm Lisa Cook, Senior Director Career Services. I met Dania Thomas at an academic residency in Atlanta, Georgia and I was so pleased to hear her share her career success story. She persistently applied numerous times to land her dream job, and she succeeded. She's now a lead microbiologist at the Center For Disease Control. She is also a Ph.D. in public health epidemiology student here at Walden. She now shares her career story can us.

Dania: My name is Dania Thomas and I'm in Public Health, with epidemiology track. I'm in the Ph.D. program. Well, I'm one of the lead microbiologist right now at the CDC. I'm an ORISE fellow, so I'm doing a fellowship with them right now. Okay, well, I have to say the biggest challenge of getting this position that I have right now is experience. Before I didn't have the experience. I was doing research, a little bit on -- in undergrad, but it still wasn't enough to get the position that I have right now. As a matter of fact, it took me at least three to five years to even get this position. In my situation, I didn't know anybody that worked in the CDC, especially in the position as I have right now. So what I started doing was doing volunteer work. In addition, I was putting in -- I was putting in massive amount of hours in applications. And I started talking to other people and they said to play on your strengths, because in -- originally, I wanted to do public health because, of course, that's what I'm studying right now so I kept applying to public health-type jobs. That wasn't working out so once somebody said, play on your strengths, you have a biology degree, you have worked in labs and you have done research work, you should go that route. So I started doing volunteer work at different places. I also started doing more research work, and I also started doing some more work on my own. Also, I -- in the mix of me trying to get the position that I have now, I had a specific microbiology job for a short time. And at first I didn't even want to do the job, but as my mother and my grandmother would say, especially my aunt, I can hear her in my head right now, it doesn't matter. Whatever you do, even if it's for ten days, even if it's for ten minutes it will amount to something. It's more experience than had you ten minutes ago. So I took the job, it was about three, four months, learning, you know, how to do their -- learning how to do plating, inoculation and stuff like that. So just because of that part alone, and research, I was able to get this job. When I initially applied for the job, I didn't even get the job. And it was a month later that they offered me the job. I kept complaining. I've had many days where I would cry, nothing was working out for me and I know there are people out there that can understand exactly what I'm saying. You put in three, four, five different applications at a time that you -- especially for a job that you know you're qualified for and don't even get a call. But even when I talked to Ms. Lisa Cook, she was even saying to go with what you know. You know, like, for example, like I said, I spoke about earlier, I'm -- I have a background in science and research. Instead of going the public health way, since you're just in the program, you know, focus on what you have. Focus on the stuff that you know. So I started applying to research job, I started applying to scientist jobs, because I just figured, that there was no way that if I wanted to do epidemiology, why am I here trying to apply for a science job? That's how I felt. But the more I got into my program, is the more I know to me epidemiology is almost like public health mixed with science. And it was -- Career Services definitely explained to me that with me having the research background, and the science background, that makes me even a better candidate along with public health. And I've read so many books. I've written so many articles. And based on the articles and the books that I've read during this program, that's actually another reason why I was able to answer all the questions, when I was in my -- when I was in my interview. So I was able to talk about populations, I was able to talk about, you know, what -- what goes on in that specific population. All of that I learned from Walden University. And that's definitely one thing I enjoy about being here and Career Service -- by the way, you guys are awesome, because you guys just kept encouraging me, you kept telling me it's okay, this can be done. I mean, I even called and even asked like, what else do I do, You know? And just the support I've gotten apart from my family and God, just the support I get from Walden and Career Services is wonderful. I would tell anybody to come to Walden. It's the best career move I've ever made in my life and I mean that. I kept going. I didn't get deterred by anything or anybody. I've heard people that say, well, why don't you just do something else? Or where don't you -- you're getting too old. Especially since I have two beautiful children. I know that there are a lot of people out there that have gone through stuff and are going through things. There are people out there who are single mothers. There are people out there who have lost jobs, but I'm telling you, I'm here as a testimony, to say that all things will happen. It will happen in due time. You have to believe in yourself. You have to make sure you do the work. You have to promote yourself. Because trust me, three years ago, if somebody told me that I would be sitting here -- sitting right here, even talking about this, I would call them a liar. You have to be passionate -- you have -- in order for people to believe in you, you have to believe in yourself. What I'm most passionate about is helping people. That's -- if anybody knows me, anybody knows the type of person I am, my personality, I will take the shirt off my back for people. I am just like the women in my family. That's exactly how we are. And because of it, I knew that I wanted to do something that would help people. Even if it wasn't directly helping people, becoming a medical doctor, but I wanted to do something behind the scenes which, hence the reason why I'm doing this public health right now. In the current position that I'm doing, we're actually looking at gonorrhea to see if there is a medication that they can come up with, that would inhibit the growth. You know, so because of that, I'm helping a specific population in West Africa. If this is a field you want to be in, you have to be passionate about it. In order to passionate about something, you have to know about it. So take the time, even if it's a year, two years, three years or in my situation, five years, because right now I'm not even directly a public health analyst. I do public health microbiology work. That's a start. That's a stepping stone. You learn what you can and you foster it. And once you get to that point, at least you will completely know that you are official, and it will be great. It's the best feeling, because when I got this job, it was the best feeling ever. I promise. Thanks Walden!


[This text is being provided in a rough-draft format to facilitate communication accessibility and may not be a totally verbatim record of the proceedings]