By Stephanie George, MS, CHES
Without question, one of the best parts of my career in health promotion management is the opportunity to meet and encourage my future colleagues in this field—a field defined by true passion for better health and well-being.
Recently I returned to my alma mater for American University’s Annual Alumni Panel for the Health Promotion Management Program. This was a prime opportunity for aspiring professionals to learn different ways their degrees can be utilized to make a difference in the world. Even just the list of panelists is an encouraging indicator of what’s possible for health promotion students:
- Jessica Mack (MS ’05): Manager of Corporate Health at Virginia Hospital
- Teha Kennard (MS ’08): Senior Associate at Booz Allen Hamilton
- Lauren Brayer (MS ’09): Senior Program Manager at Sodexo
- Sarah Kuchinos (MS ’13): Fitness Specialist at National Center for Weight and Wellness
- Moderator – Sherry Compton (MS ’05): Independent Management Consultant
I graduated from AU with a master’s degree in health promotion management in May 2014 and now work as a Wellness Program Administrator for Navy Federal Credit Union, facilitating their employee wellness programs and initiatives. My fellow event panelists and I may have very different jobs among us, but we were able to agree on several important tips for attendees to both navigate the health promotion job market and maximize their potential in the field they love.
1. When in doubt, network.
College students often are intimidated by the idea of networking and reaching out to people they don’t know very well, but in reality, most professionals are very helpful—if asked. Most people are willing to meet up for coffee and share their experiences. Often the topics range from health promotion trends to intra-office politics and how things actually work behind the scenes. All of it is good to know.
Even the savviest networking efforts don’t always directly lead to a job offer, but the info gleaned is invaluable. Also, the whole process is great practice for interviewing and selecting positions to apply for in the future.
2. Convey your passion for health promotion.
Whether at a casual gathering or in a crowded boardroom, be honest about your passion for health and well-being—and for promoting it. People will respond to your enthusiasm. If you don’t speak up about what you’re interested in, you might miss out on valuable opportunities.
Our panel noted that while there are many variables affecting one’s work in the health promotion field, the main drivers of success include:
- Hard work
- Continual learning
- Ability and willingness to adapt
3. Seize every opportunity.
It’s impossible to predict the quantity and quality of opportunities you’ll encounter during your career. Perhaps the next one will be the best you ever find.
Take advantage of every opportunity. View every experience as a chance to learn more about yourself and the industry. Even if the process involves stepping outside your comfort zone, you’ll find that it’s worth the effort.
With a master’s degree in health promotion management, there are so many potential paths that lie in front of you. Those paths lead in different directions, with unique twists and turns along the way. You may have to traverse a few of them before finding your niche.
Wherever you end up, we welcome you to the world of health promotion management—where improving health and well-being is equal parts art and science.
Are you considering a career that involves the art and science of health promotion? Learn about achieving a master’s degree in health promotion management from American University.