Fellowship opportunities can be good options for new law graduates seeking to join CDC. As graduates emphasized, it can be difficult to get your foot in the door at CDC. Although fellowship positions are temporary and highly competitive, they provide an opportunity to gain valuable experience and exposure in the field.
Some of the fellowship opportunities available to lawyers include:
• Oak Ridge Institute for Science and Education Fellowship (ORISE): This fellowship program focuses on conducting research and developing solutions to CDC’s critical missions. Current students and recent graduates from a number of graduate fields may apply. Fellows get a monthly stipend based on degree level, experience, and discipline. For more information, visit http://www.orau.gov/cdc/default.htm
Rebecca Polinsky, JD ’07, gained valuable experience as a Health Disparities Fellow at Georgia State Law working with the Health Law Partnership (HeLP) after graduation. “I have no doubt that my direct work with disadvantaged and low-income clients at HeLP gave me a solid context for understanding how policy and the law affect vulnerable populations,” she said.
The connections and friendships formed in law school can help one’s career as well, for Georgia State Law graduates already at CDC can let their peers know when opportunities arise. “I wouldn’t have even known about this opportunity if it hadn’t been for my classmates,” said Lisa Caucci, JD ’10. “I am very fortunate that so many GSU law school graduates are already working at CDC.”
The recent graduates also emphasized the value of the Georgia State health law program’s reputation, faculty, and course offerings. “Many of the law faculty had worked with or knew CDC employees, and these connections were particularly helpful,” said Stacie Kershner, JD ‘08. “GSU has an excellent and nationally-recognized health law program, which is a great bonus when looking for a job in the field.”
• Presidential Management Fellowship: This competitive leadership development program aims to recruit and train future government leaders. Applicants may include recent graduates of advanced degree programs in any discipline. Fellows receive full salary and benefits and possible student loan repayment. For more information, visit http://www.pmf.gov/
Other fellowship opportunities arise as funding and hiring practices allow. These positions are not always posted on the government employment website, USAJobs, so creating and maintaining relationships with CDC contacts can be critical to hearing about them.
Harriet Jett, JD ’99, advises students looking for a career in public service to check out special program opportunities at least a year in advance and to not miss deadlines. “Keep in mind a Presidential Management Fellowship may not be right for you if you want a more traditional practice,” she noted, and added: “People serve in public health and service to make a difference, and most are not as focused on starting salaries but in gaining an opportunity.”
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