Whether you’re a recent college grad, a seasoned nonprofit professional, or an aspiring sector-switcher, attending the right graduate program can advance your career. For many prospective grad students, the Idealist Grad School Fairs are the perfect opportunity to take that first step and explore all of your options.
We had an opportunity to speak with Oana Groza about how attending the 2019 Idealist Grad School Fair in New York helped to shape her career path.
Name: Oana Groza (she/her)
Idealist Grad School Fair attended: New York City 2019
Undergraduate degree: Bachelor’s in Global Public Health and Applied Psychology, New York University, class of 2020
Graduate degree: Master of Public Health, Yale School of Public Health, class of 2024
Career plans: Public health communications
During your undergraduate career, did you have an idea of what you wanted to do for work?
I didn’t have an idea of a specific title, but I definitely wanted to work in public health.
What was your motivation for attending graduate school?
I knew I would have to go to grad school because it’s a necessary part of working in public health, especially to move up in terms of title and salary; it’s not enough to have a bachelor’s degree. But public health is a broad field, so I needed time to figure out exactly what I wanted to do.
I spent two years working as a Communications Coordinator for Hunger Free America, which opened my eyes to the ways information can reach different populations. I realized that I wanted to focus on public health communications to better serve a variety of communities.
How did the Idealist Grad School Fair help you find your graduate program?
I regularly use Idealist to find summer internships, and I saw that NYU was advertising the Idealist Grad School Fair as a place to connect with potential grad programs.
I was able to speak to reps from public health programs and learn more about what individual universities offer, such as dual degree programs, internship options, and school location. I definitely got a better sense of each program’s culture, which is hard to understand if you’re only browsing their websites.
Describe your grad school experience so far.
Grad school programs can be stressful, but my professors and advisors are very supportive. Many of them have an open door policy, and one professor will send out an anonymous survey to check in on students. The personal attention to mental health has been great.
I’ve also been able to gain experience in health communications through opportunities I found through the program. Currently, I am working part time as a Health Communicator for a research team at the Yale School of Public Health.
What advice would you give to people considering graduate school?
Definitely reach out to people who attended the grad programs you’re interested in. You can search the alumni network at your undergraduate university or ask around your department. I also recommend attending info sessions online or in person to get a better sense of the program, and considering what you want to get out of the experience.
Consider each school's location—if it’s a two- or three-year program, do you see yourself living in that same city or town for the duration of the program? Would you prefer a smaller program for a more specialized atmosphere? Are there support systems in place to help you find internship or career opportunities? You also want to think about funding and whether it’s worth applying to schools that don’t have good financial aid packages.
Interested in exploring grad programs ranging from public policy to international studies? Search for universities and programs using the Idealist Grad School Directory and contact admissions representatives directly.