Video Title: Staying the Course of Your Career Passion
(Nicolle): Hi I'm Nicole Skalski senior career services advisor at Walden University. Career Services has been following the career journey of PhD in public health student Daniel Thomas. Since her last career spotlight she made a strategic career move to bring her closer to her ultimate goal of becoming an epidemiologist. We met her at the Atlanta residency and she shares her career story with us
(Dania): Hey good afternoon it's me again it's Dania Thomas and i'm here from the Walden residency by the way enjoying myself and i'm studying in the PhD program at the University -public health specialization in epidemiology. Well the last time I saw you guys we were talking about how landed my dream job at the CDC is to be microbiologist. Tt was a fellowship that lasted from 2015 2016. It was a wonderful year. I met so many people. I did a lot of networking and you know Walden University always stresses that you should network. It's a wonderful thing. Trust me normally I would talk to people but not network the way i did at the CDC and I learned that especially coming to these residency's and just coming to the different programs and meeting other people from different programs and the seminars; it taught me how to have you know like an elevator speech. Talking to people because i realize that at the CDC everybody's on the move because of course everybody has a specific goal which is to help so nobody has time to really stop to slow down. So if you know if you're networking with somebody the first thing you have to do is definitely get yourself out there - your name, what your goal is- quickly so that they can at least have an idea of what it is and how they can help you. So I definitely took that with me on to the CDC and I did a lot of networking. Now where i am now is at Georgia Department of Public Health. I know some of you are probably wondering, well if it was your dream job, why would you even move? But you know what I'm only human and I'm going to be honest with you because I'm pretty sure people understand where i'm coming from. The move that I made was not a bad move. It was not a lateral move. But it was a move that was necessary for me to get to my results which was to become an epidemiologist . When I was at the CDC and I networked, as i said, i learned also that as a fellowship it's not guaranteed you are not a full-time employee but once again I loved it and I enjoyed i. i wanted to stay and it was very hard for me internally whether to make these decisions. Whether i need to move, should i stay. And going into the Georgia Department of Public Health, it allowed me to now be more open to other people and to entry-level epidemiology jobs. Yes I know some of you are wondering what you are still in science but once again, as the Career Service taught you, you still have to play on your strengths at the end of the day. I'm still a scientist at heart and I love being a scientist. But now I am closer to working more with epidemiologists as opposed to when I was at the CDC, which by the way I gained a lot of skills, a lot of skills! I'm working there now currently at the Georgia Department of Public Health. i will work more along with the epidemiologist because i do testing on newborn babies. i actually work in the newborn screening and, if everybody knows, a lot of people, a lot of us who attend Walden, we do online because it's more conducive to our situation. A lot of us have families so you guys know that babies that's our life. And that's another reason why i decided to also take this job because we are working alongside epidemiologists to help with the problems that we're having with certain newborn disorders that they have. Ok so at the Georgia Department of Public Health, the funniest thing is that when i was contemplating whether i should stay, i actually got a phone call out of the blue. You remember, i applied for this job actually because I do have a soft spot for children, single mother with two kids and still going strong. And like i said, i don't know if anybody Remembers, but I've started this program since 2013 and I'm still right now in my chapter to do my dissertation. you guys can do that! I followed everything that the Career Service said. Mrs. Cook very instrumental in my life actually since I met her in 2013, and you know, always just present yourself, you know go for what you know. Just say and be natural you know let it flow. And in the interview, I was honest about everything that I could do and I couldn't do. So in the interview, I just was honest and I told him that I would really like this job. I let them know that I'm coming from the CDC and they even specifically asked me if I really wanted to leave and I contemplated but I did want to leave. Because i am now, I would not be a full-time employee and i will be able to become an epidemiologist even if its entry level. So once again going back to what Walden has taught me: you have to also have the confidence to go and do what it is that you need to do, whether it's a lateral move, whether it's the perfect move, whether it's the dream job. And just remember that landing my dream job at the CDC is always going to be my dream but that just also gave me the stepping stones to move on, to build, and to take the skills that I learned from there in order to move further at the Georgia Department of Public Health. The job that I landed is actually a molecular scientist in the newborn screening department. i actually do specific testing for cystic fibrosis and newborn babies. So I don't know if anybody knows, when you have kids, they always prick the bottom of their feet and take the blood. i'm the one that actually tests all of those and see basically the different mutations, and see if they have sickle cell or if they have any specific mutations that will come up that's needed to, you know, be tested further. the strategy that I definitely took to get this position was number one definitely confidence. i had to be confident in what I knew and pretty much what I didn't know. And even if it is that you don't know something, you have to also let them know and that you are a person that's able to be taught, able to catch on quickly. Also flexible for any situation that you have going on. And once again, i learned that at Walden because I was a little shy and I didn't even know how to present myself. And coming to these residencies taught me so much, you have no idea how much you taught me! As a matter of fact, coming to the residencies is part of the reason why I decided to change my topic for my dissertation. Because you know it was just giving me something more that I was passionate about and also just to know that there were other people and residencies who are going through the same situation that you're going through. And for that same reason is why i always look forward to residencies and I'm actually so sad that I've finished all four of mine. But I did meet some really awesome people along the way, but i still keep in contact with career services. Walden has given you all the resources and that's one of the reasons why i love this school and I will keep doing these spotlights. And I just want everybody to know that as a single mother once again of two children, if i can do it, I’ve been doing this since 2013. I will eventually become an epidemiologist and the next time you see me, I will have my PhD and so will you! thank you.
[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]