By Ruby Roettger, Minnesota Public Health Corps, Minnesota Department of Health

As a recent college graduate, I thought I was well-equipped to enter the workforce. After applying for jobs for a year with little success I found out about Minnesota Public Health Corps (MN PHC) through an online posting. The program was created in response to COVID-19 to support health departments in Minnesota. I knew nothing about public health at the time but was intrigued by their mission to develop and support a new public health workforce. I began to research public health as a career and decided to apply. A month later, I was accepted into the MN Public Health Corps program and placed at the Minnesota Department of Health (MDH). To learn more about AmeriCorps program details, see my colleague Jamie Thompson’s post about Public Health AmeriCorps and MN Public Health Corps.

I am part of the first cohort of MN Public Health Corps. So far, I have had the opportunity to work on a variety of exciting projects with experienced public health professionals. I wanted to learn more about the experiences of my fellow MN Public Health Corps cohort members at MDH. I sat down with Elise and Jamie, two MN PHC members at MDH, to learn more about their journeys to public health. 

Elise became interested in public health while teaching English to students in Colombia. She began to think about how different social factors were affecting her students, “It seemed like their life trajectory was already laid out for them.” After she graduated with a Master of Public Health, she decided to apply to MN Public Health Corps to gain more experience in the field. Jamie became interested in public health while taking a course titled “Disease Eradication” as an undergraduate. She told me, 

“I wanted to go upstream, I wanted to try to prevent illness. I valued the interdisciplinary and social justice aspects of public health.” 

Kyle, another MN PHC member at MDH, wanted to gain service experience after he graduated college. I asked him what he has enjoyed the most so far: “I’ve liked dipping my toes in a lot of different areas. For example, I have learned about workplace wellness and community-supported farmers markets.” Mateo, who is also a MN PHC member at MDH, echoed what Kyle said, telling me that he has enjoyed the opportunity to explore different fields. He told me about a translation project he was working on, “That work is important for communities that don’t have as much of a voice as English-proficient communities.”

Some of the members I spoke to offered great advice about starting a career in public health. Elise told me, “Be open to trying different areas of public health. You might not like one but end up loving another.” In reference to MN Public Health Corps, Jamie told me “Be proactive, apply early. By the time I applied there were many projects that I was interested in that had been filled.” 

MN Public Health Corps provides a great opportunity to gain experience with public health at various levels of government and explore different areas of public health. 



To learn more, check out these resources: