I remember I was at a dinner party in New York on New Year’s Eve 2012 when I first heard about Global Health Corps. The dinner was hosted by a friend of mine – let’s call him David – who works in the music industry, and our dinner companions were friends of his at the intersection of music and social media. How did I come to be at this dinner? I had met David a few years ago at a party for a tech start-up and we stayed in touch. I was working in digital media at a major news organization at the time, and tech start-ups love inviting people from the media world to create buzz for their companies, so David and I had been among the guests.
There you have it. And you might be thinking: Where’s the global health in that? At David’s party, somewhere between hot new artists and champagne toasts, we began talking about New Year’s resolutions. I mentioned that it was getting to be high time for me to quit my job in news—which I liked very much—and pursue my true passion in development and social innovation. I was getting comfortable, and if I stayed in my job any longer, I’d be too far down my career as a digital media professional to switch tracks. What with my volunteer work in organizations such as Kiva and Accion and hours spent poring over this economic theory and that book about global poverty, I knew where my life’s real interests lay.
“But then, how do I break into development?” I lamented to my dinner companions. “I’ve scoured everything on Idealist.org and it’s impossible. They all want ‘three years’ experience in a developing country setting or some such thing, and I don’t have that. I’ve never worked in the third world, and I don’t have a background in health or economics. It’s like you have to be in development to get into development. But, I’ve been in news for the past five years. What’s that got to do with living in Africa?”
Someone piped up and said, “Hey, I know someone who’s been working in Malawi this past year and she loves it! She sent an email saying her organization is recruiting now. I can put you guys in touch.”
And that was it. Everything changed after that one night on the eve of 2012. That’s the funny thing about recruitment: you never know what you don’t know about what the people in your networks are looking for, and you won’t know unless you ask. One of last year’s fellows sent an email to her contacts in a most disparate array of fields – here, for example, was someone working in the music industry – and through the vast Venn diagram we call life, her email landed in my inbox and I ended up a 2012-2013 Global Health Corps Fellow, simultaneously fulfilling both my New Year’s resolution and my life’s dream.
You never know who around you is in possession of some knowledge or information that’s not particularly useful to them until they find out that it could be life changing for you. When you want something badly enough, whether it’s to attract the most exceptional applicants into a program like GHC, or to get recruited into it, just ask. Ask everyone you know, because you don’t know who might be in the room with you.