Written by Vanessa Ramirez

We have all had a moment where we have been asked what our future plans are, and it can be difficult to answer if you’re not sure yourself. I’ve found myself with this question and always wanting to dodge it or have given a response that was simply beating around the bush. Since graduating in the midst of a pandemic and starting my term of service at the Alliance, I have been encouraged to start thinking about my future and not to shy away from it now more than ever.

Vanessa Ramirez

As with any minor or major changes in life, looking back provides insight onto where you once were. I can say that looking back, I’m not 100% the same person I was when I began my term of service at the Alliance. At the start of my term, I can recall moments feeling lost because I didn’t know what was going on. There was a lot of information I needed to know in order to understand the work that staff and partners were doing. It also took me a bit to meet staff in an all virtual setting. As time went on and as I have been meeting regularly with staff and partners, I don’t feel that way anymore. Now I am currently thinking of where I would like to see myself by the end of my term of service.

With guidance and self-reflection, I have been able to learn about who I would like to work with. I have also taken the time to see what aspects of public health interest me. As we all know, public health is an umbrella with many components that branch out or are connected to each other. Finding the area and potential employment opportunities feels stressful; it has the same feeling as finding a major and a college. You want to make sure you’re making the right choice, but you won’t really know until you’re there. Although this is stressful and it’s hard to visualize what my future will look like, it has been helpful to know that I’m not alone.

Sharing my story with staff and hearing their stories these past few months and how they landed at the Alliance has helped me realize a key element: there is no correct way to navigate this field. If you have an area of focus in public health you’re not stuck to it for life and it is ok and normal to work in different areas throughout your career. There are so many talented leaders at the Alliance with staff that have such diverse backgrounds with years of experience. I feel grateful that I can spend this year working and learning with them.

Although I may not have every detail in my future painted, I do know that it’s ok. I plan to use the rest of my service to continue asking as many questions as I can, to learn or further develop skills and to form as many meaningful relationships I can with internal and external partners. If there is one thing I have learned is that I know I’m in the right field and I look forward to the work I will do.