2015 SYP Testimonials

Alick Kayange,
Tanzania

My name is Alick Kayange from Tanzania. I am a medical doctor with M.Phil International community health (Global Health) from the University of Oslo in Norway. Studying at the University of Oslo gave me an opportunity to meet different global health experts. I have also worked on pediatric and adolescent HIV and AIDS program for more than nine years. All these mounted passion and interest in Global health within me. I decided to register in the Global Health Mentorships (GHMe) pilot program for the period of September to December 2015. I am glad to have been among the first member privileged to take part in the pilot project.

 

For me, it was a great experience having virtual meetings with my mentor and fellow SYPs from Asia and Europe. The group goal was to share knowledge about global health through the discussion of projects, views, research & sharing our own academic and professional experiences related to global health. The coverage of the modules was useful enough to nurture my career. Through this program, I was able to sharpen my skills on how to make effective communication, how to prepare for a job application, how to prepare for a job interview and how to prepare a grant proposal.

 

In connection with that, while participating in GHMe program; I applied for a new job for the position of PMTCT/ART Project lead. I shared the job advertisement, CV and cover letter to my fellow SYPs and mentor before submitting my application. They all gave their advice to enrich my application. We also had a very strong discussion on how to prepare for job interviews and elevator pitches.

 

One week later, after sending my application, I received an invitation to attend the job Interview. Fortunately, we had scheduled another meeting with my group. After our discussion, my group cheered me up and wished me good luck in my interview. The discussion helped me face the interview with confidence, determination and even helped me look more professional. I am glad to have secured the position and I have reported to my new office since January 2016.

I would like to extend my sincere appreciation to the GHMe project for coming up with this idea that has played a pivotal role in my career. I also thank all members of my group for their readiness to share their experiences, flexibility and ability to accommodate one another. My future prospect is to see myself working at the higher global institutions like the World Health Organization, UNICEF, and WFP.

 

 
Silvia Segovia Chacón,
Spain

I come from Barcelona, Spain. After a few years working and studying in London, I’m now based in Stockholm. I’m currently working as a research assistant at the National Centre for Suicide Research and Prevention of Mental Ill-Health (NASP) at Karolinska Institutet.

 

My connections to global health started at the time when I was studying my MSc in Public Health at London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine (LSHTM). LSHTM was a buzzing place. Alongside our regular lectures, there were a lot of presentations and lectures regarding different global health issues that we could also attend. I had the opportunity to come across experts from various fields. For a year, I was also exposed to highly motivated and inspiring students. All this awoke my interest for the global health space. 

 

I became interested in joining GHMe, because, as I see it, global health is highly political, relevant and challenging. 

 

I would like to work in an institution where I could dedicate my time and energy working in public/global health research, advocacy, and policy particularly within the area of women and health. I would like to drive change in any topic from maternal health and sexual rights to violence against women and gender equality. I’m also interested in health inequalities and mental health prevention.

 

In June 2015, I attended the GHNGN Conference in Barcelona where the GHMe program was launched. I also had the opportunity to meet some of the people involved in the GHMe project. They were really engaging and creative, looking to the future of GH and wanting to help newcomers to navigate in the GH space. They inspired me.

 

For me, it has been a positive experience to participate in the GHMe program. It has provided me support during a transitional period from finishing my MSc in PH to seek employment in a new field. It helped me to keep up my motivation, interests and inspiration. It has also been important to stay connected and share knowledge during this period.

 

We are two SYPs and a mentor. I like the fact that each of us comes from a different continent since we are from Spain, Tanzania and Vietnam. We have been aiming to accommodate 1 or 2 meetings monthly via Skype. During the hour meeting, we work on the material related to the GHMe modules. We also discuss other issues related to our interest or that come up spontaneously in the conversation. 

 

The GHMe program has helped me to formulate and articulate myself much better. Through the module of career building, where we had to write a mock job application, update our CV and prepare a cover letter, I was forced to think and define my skill set, knowledge and experience. The communication skills module was also good for me: I thought of my elevator pitch and wrote a networking email.  Those activities helped me to articulate myself in terms of what I’m aiming for, and where I am professional.

 

I have learnt that the global health market is highly competitive. I have also realised how important it is to network and to use of new technologies to keep you connected and updated.

 

I encourage SYPs to invest energy and time in the program so that they can make the most of it. It can be a really empowering process.

 
Maaike Droogers,
the Netherlands

I am from the Netherlands and currently based in Stockholm. I did a bachelor’s in public health, because of my interest in health and society. After that, I felt like there is so much more to public health. I studied public health in the Netherlands and most case studies during the studies were from the Netherlands. I was curious about how health systems are in other countries and which health challenges exists in other countries. Perhaps this interest in abroad originates from my time living abroad in Turkey and Sri Lanka as a child.

 

At the moment there are various aspects of global health that interest me: translating research into effective, sustainable and context-appropriate interventions. I am also interested in evidence-based practices, countries learning from each other and global health governance. It would be great if at one point in my career I can contribute to the development and implementation of effective, context-appropriate and sustainable global health intervention programs based on all the experiences I have from various countries and settings.

 

I do not have any previous experiences with a mentorship programs. During my studies, I have experienced how inspiring it can be to have contact with experts from the field. As a student, I got this from my lectures, professors at the university and guest speakers. As a recent graduate, a mentoring program seemed like a new opportunity to keep being inspired by a professional from the field. Also, the opportunity to come in contact with other like-minded, others interested or experienced within global health, such as other SYPs.

 

I am very excited about the GHMe program. I have come to new ideas, found new sources of inspiration and great to get to know my mentor and fellow SYPs. Without GHMe, I would have never met them.

 

We are with 3 SYPs and 1 mentor. We meet once per month and discuss global health issues that we are all interested in, such as evidence-based policy, the sustainable development goals, and career paths in global health. We share experiences, thoughts and ask each other questions. After the meeting, I feel inspired. We easily manage to find a moment for a monthly Skype meeting, apparently all of us priorities GHMe and will work their schedule around our meeting.

 

GHMe has confirmed how interesting the field of global health is, also how broad, as well as how much there is you can do. GHMe has helped me realize the three possibilities to, 1) become an expert in one disease area or in a health related issue (e.g. malaria, tobacco, or eHealth), 2) be knowledgeable about a skill or methodology within global health that can be applied to several disease areas (e.g. epidemiology, ethics), or 3) combine the two, choose several diseases and several skills within global health.  

 

I have learned that it is important to have field experience. Now seems like a right time to gain some of that field experience, since as an SYP I am rather flexible as to where I can live.

 

It is a great decision to participate in the GHMe program! Make sure you have time to prepare and reflect on your mentorship meetings. GHMe will definitely give you food for thought!

 
Elena Marbán Castro,
Spain

I come from Madrid, Spain, but now I live in Barcelona. I'm doing my Master Degree in global health. I studied my first Master in Tropical Medicine and that's how I discovered that I really like global health and that's also when I decided to do a second Master in global health. 

 

I never knew what to focus on, so I did my Bachelor in Health Biology and Tropical Medicine and discovered that global health is very important in every aspect of life. 

 

I would like to work in an NGO or international organization, where I could work in the field and do advocacy in relation to infectious diseases and global health issues in general.

 

I got interested in GHMe because I just started my Master and didn't really know where to focus on and it would help me to get this focus I was looking for.

 

I'm very happy! Every month, I meet my team and we talk by e-mail or skype. I'm learning a lot from different people and their experiences - even if we have different experiences and backgrounds, we share common goals. I really enjoyed the modules, where we were writing mock applications and revising our CVs.

 

We are three SYPs and one mentor. As we also have the LinkedIn group, I comment on posts and see who else is there outside from my own group. As you uploaded the picture, I recognised a girl I knew from the GHNGN conference last year, so I got in contact with her. 

 

I'm not sure about my career since I'm still a first year Master student, but when we had to write a mock e-mail to a professional that we met at an event, to keep in contact. After I wrote the mock, my mentor made me send the e-mail to the professor. I was so surprised when the professor actually answered me, given the fact that we met half a year ago - but he was very nice and remembered me. It was a great experience, and we can apply everything we learn at GHMe. 

 

I have to be more secure and even though I don't yet which field I want to specialise in, I have the skills and tools to go in any direction I want. I just need to put more emphasis on my application letters and CV. 

 

Join the program! I learned a lot! If you are considering to apply, just do it! I know we all have a life, studies, work and all of it, but it's not just an exercise to send it out the day you have your meeting, it's something serious you have to prepare. You have only four months and it only takes one or two days each month. If you have time, prepare yourself and take it seriously, because GHMe will make a difference in your life. 

 
Aida Tanios,
Austria

I come from Austria and still live here. I work in Vienna at the Austrian Public Health Institute at the department of Health and Society.

 

I have always been interested in global health. I started my health career as a general nurse and used to work in several hospital wards for five years after I had finished my education. At the same time, I studied International Development and after that Sociology but I always kept my focus on health issues. This topic has been part of me for about eight years. 

 

I think health is such a central issue when it comes to criteria of a good life. What you need to live a good life is safety, food and you always need good health to accomplish more. I think it´s very fascinating, that you can have so many perspectives on health - anything is possible and there's always something new coming up. 

 

I'd like to strengthen my focus on mental health issues, especially on suicide prevention. I discovered this topic during the last year at work and before that I never planned to go into the field of mental health. When I started, I saw how important the issue is, and I still see the importance of these issues day-to-day. So I really want to continue working on topics of suicide prevention and mental health in general.

 

GHMe sounded like there is much personal motivation behind it, like something that wants to grow and to improve, which makes it different from other programs. You can see that hard working people are behind it.

 

In general, it's been a very good and exciting experience. I really like my group. I'm impressed by the knowledge of our mentor and how she is able to guide us through the different contents of the modules and through the Skype sessions. I see that she wants to help us improve our career. I expected the program to be more focused on health issues, so I was quite surprised that it was more about career development*. Nevertheless, I learned a lot through the modules and I'm a bit sad that it will finish soon.

 

We are three SYPs, another Austrian girl and the other SYP is from Romania, enrolled in a Master Program. We are very different when it comes to our professional experiences. I think it is very enriching that we are not too similar. We meet once a month for every module. We had some troubles with finding time slots, where everyone is available, but it's getting better now.

 

GHMe has helped me to sharpen my vision. I was encouraged to think about where I want to be in a few years and the mentorship program encouraged me to focus on what I like and be self-conscious about me as a professional. Every one of us SYPs had the same issue: How can I talk at a conference when they are so many experts... I'm so young; I am so inexperienced, how will I ever dare to say something. The program has helped me to feel confident about what I know and do.

 

My advice for future SYPs is: use the opportunity because it's a great chance to get to know people from other countries who are working in the same field and I think it would be a pity not to make use of it. Try to get to know the SYPs better. We started to write the minutes down from the sessions to create something sustainable, which I can really recommend because you are so focused on listening and talking you forget half of the things after the session is finished. I want to encourage people to open their minds to new perspectives from within their field.

 

 

 

*The pre-survey, which was conducted in the first month, showed a clear trend towards career development advice. However, the modules are not binding and allow for individual adjustment. 

 
Arsenis Tselengidis,
Greece

I am from Greece and now I'm based in Malmö, South of Sweden, studying at Lund University.

 

I started in 2010 promoting health among young adults around Europe and together with my colleagues, we conducted workshops in different cities, this is how I got excited about European health, in particular in public health nutrition.

 

What I'd like to achieve in my career of course depends on the opportunities that come up over time. I guess, nowadays I would like to see myself lobbying at an NGO either to EU or WHO. But also at the same time, I would like to work in a low-income setting through NGOs

 

I found GHMe extremely interesting and I wanted to expand my horizon to have a different perspective and to see what the professionals are thinking about our future as a young professional, but also to be guided on my own path and to achieve it.

 

I really liked the beginning when we did the mock applications with the CV and the motivation letter because it gave me the opportunity to practice and develop my CV. It's nice to hear the opinion from someone with insider knowledge. She [the mentor] could guide me towards what attracts possible employers in order to accept me. The advice from my mentor and the other SYP helped me to change two of my application, which was in the end very successful and I got accepted both times. 

 

We are two SYPs and one mentor. At the beginning of the month, the mentor is proposing a topic and the SYPs are working on it. Close to the end of the month, we present what we did and everyone is receiving feedback from the rest of the group. We can always ask additional questions to the mentor and other SYPs, which don't even need to be related to the topic.

 

Nowadays I am more focused on a specific career path that I want to follow. I can give better, professional feedback, also on where I'm going, what I want to archive and how I want to achieve it, compared to before.  

 

I think one of my biggest limitations is that I postpone things quite easily. I think, with the GHMe it pushes me to eliminate this bad habit, that I act now and don't leave it for later. 

 

I recommend everyone to take this opportunity, especially if you don't have a big network already. It helps you to come closer to your area of interest, to learn more and be guided. This program gives one the opportunity to talk with other colleagues from your own profession. They can share their own experience and job or training opportunities you can take to develop yourself or your career.  

 
Eva van Swaaij,
the Netherlands

I am from the Netherlands and currently based in Stockholm. 

 

I've been studying public health in different international settings for a few years and that is also my connection to Global Health.

 

I like to work on access to health and equity problems. I don't really know what kind of job I would like to have yet, but that is fine since I'm still studying and I still have some time to figure things out. 

 

 

The possibility to network, the possibility to meet some other people from outside my university circles, who are also interested in global health and to interact and learn with them and to share opportunities.

 

GHMe has been very nice. I get along very well with my mentor and the other SYP. We had some good Skype discussions so far and we had the opportunity to meet up in Berlin at the World Health Summit. It's been very productive.

 

So we have one mentor and two SYPs. So we ususally meet about oncve a month on Skype and then we discuss the different topics that are at hand at that point. We go through some of the Module material that we got from the team.

 

GHMe has given me a view on what's possible in Global Health jobs are out there and made me focused on what I would like to do; to connect with some people who might have interesting jobs. I really try to focus my own career path.

 

First of all, I learned that it is important to promote yourself through for example business cards. They are really helpful. I think the Global Health world seems smaller than expected. 

 

The next generation should take the opportunity and get involved. You can learn a lot from your mentor. Listen to them and be patient, because they will be busy and try to engage with them. If they invite you, go wherever they tell you to go, do what they tell you, because it's probably going to be a good experience for you.