This blog started out more than 7 years ago (!) to document my experiences as a Peace Corps Volunteer. Now I’m back volunteering at the health department where I used to work.
This year I have been working as an intern/volunteer at both the Orange County and Santa Clara County Health departments.
In Orange County I have been looking at their Hepatitis C data and trying to better understand their unique situation as a rehab destination for drug detoxification. This may end up turning into a dissertation, although I need to do more of a research plan and learn more about time series analysis.
In Santa Clara I have been doing random projects and data requests as assigned. Even though I worked as an infectious disease epidemiologist, I am now helping them out with general epi projects (chronic disease, social determinants of health, causes of death,) and helping mentor their interns. It’s weird because a lot of the things I worked on are now coming to fruition, with the future launch of the open data portal in several weeks. Many of these projects were their infancy when I left, and now they are actually happening! That’s one of the coolest part.
So you may be asking, Sara, why are you volunteering? Couldn’t you get paid?
County governments have limited resources and bringing on paid interns is unfortunately not always feasible.
There are also other advantages
- I can set my own schedule and come in to work when I want. This is true, however I’m in from 8:30-4:30 most days
- People have to treat you appropriately. You are there because you want to be there and not getting paid.
- Experience is experience whether you get paid or not. You can still put this on your resume
- Your supervisor can be used as a reference for future jobs
- This is a chance to hone your skills, and learn new ones, and in some ways, have more freedom to make mistakes
- You feel like you are part of a team and contributing and supporting people. I was able to respond to an urgent media request and help make sure that we had the right information to share with the public.
I’m so glad to have a sense of purpose again and to keep me busy before I go back to UCI at the end of September for TA training.
I can’t wait to share my love for public health with undergrads and get to use my teaching skills from my undergraduate education and Peace Corps experience.