Why I didnt go into my field (for now)

Some may be wondering why after 5 years of studying public health I decided to work at qulatrics, a tech market research survey company. Believe me I have asked myself this question a few times too. I may even go back sometime in the near future, who knows. This whole figuring out who I am and what I want thing is an ongoing process.

Over the last 2 years I have come to understand a couple things about myself and the public health field.

1. Public health is often a slow moving job

-Public health is rarely goal driven or fast paced. There are no incentives or bonuses for getting things done fast or even done right. I was always confused about the pace I was going. I often had nothing to do because I got through tasks too quickly (everyone was always surprised how quickly I was getting things done even when I tried to take my time). Also there is a lot of time wasted. We had meetings every week that lasted over an hour where we just stated what we were doing that week. This could have easily been done through an email that took 3 minutes to read (That meeting probably cost over a hundred thousand dollars over the course of the year, and it was pointless) Projects also went so slowly because of the inefficient bureaucratic process (I waited over 2 months for a financial approval, because my document got lost 3 times). For me to function at my best I need little red tape and a lot of goal setting.

2. Public health at the masters level for me was going to be all about writing reports that no one reads

-I decided that writing lengthly reports that no one reads wasn't going to be fun or fulfilling and thats where my career options were going. Call me crazy but I think work should be fun (you spend most your life there anyways) and should make you feel like you are making some kind of a difference.

3. There are two places for a public health masters grad, academia and the state health department

-I would actually love to teach a public health class or two in the future (my resume has already been sent out), I really enjoy teaching. I also love public health on the ground and the impact one can make on the individual. I will never get over the impact I have made and felt when doing things like advocating for public health policy. I think teaching would be a fun place to keep up with the concepts I fell in love with. But I cannot work at the state, more on that in the next paragraph.

4. The working environment in public health institutions is HORRIBLE

-The working environment of public healh is siloed and oppressive. I am pretty sure health departments are where creativity goes to die. For example, I got an email awhile back to the whole department that talking in the hallways was discouraged, it was disturbing people in their cubicles.... SERIOUSLY. Have any of these people taken management courses? the best work gets done while talking at the water cooler. I just couldn't work at a place where being friends and having fun is discouraged. Sorry. I like an open and fun working environment, I don't want to be miserable everyday.

5. Commuting is just not my thing

-After over a year of commuting to Salt Lake, I just didn't want to do it anymore. What a waste of 2-3 hours everyday.

I will always love public health and will participate in those things that I feel can make an impact (For example, my work with The Shine Project, and anti-tobacco advocacy efforts) I just won't be working full-time in public health for now.

While qualtrics is not the kind of place I thought I'd end up, it is making me really excited for the future (and who knows I may go back someday, especially if we move out of utah (excuse me when) It may just be here that I don't enjoy public health in practice). But the business world is data and goal driven, which is the environment I thrive in. I already feel closer to my coworkers after a week together here than I did a year and a half at the state. Plus I feel like I am making a difference. Helping people tailor surveys to their populations, what they want to find out, etc that is impact. These surveys are going to collect data that will drive decisions, I think that is COOL!!!

I can't wait to see where my career takes me, but one thing is for sure I am going to enjoy the ride!!!

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