What the WHO Simulation and the Careers Service did for me!

OLIVIA ROWE on her journey from the world health organisation simulation to a united nations internship


Name: Olivia Rowe

Degree course: Psychology

College: Emmanuel

In the Summer of 2018, as I was about to start MY final year of Psychology at Cambridge, I began to worry about what on earth I would do once I graduated.

For myself, and I am sure many people at Cambridge, getting into the university was about as far into the future as I had planned. After ruling out academia or becoming a psychologist, I really had no idea what I should do next. This is when I booked my first appointment at the Careers Service – initially to discuss consultancy, a seemingly popular post-Cambridge career. However, the careers adviser I saw was quick to realise I had absolutely no interest in being a consultant. This I am extremely grateful for. He helped me touch up my CV and think about alternative careers that I might be more enthusiastic about. Placing all my previous experiences on one page was a fantastic exercise which helped me realise the kind of areas I particularly enjoyed. Up to this point, I had volunteered with Amnesty International, mental health charities and student climate activist groups. Whilst I thought these were just extracurricular interests, my adviser suggested I may be interested in a career in the public sector, and particularly international development.

This was when I booked my second careers appointment with Amanda Norman, a careers adviser and expert in international development careers. She helped me understand the multitude of pathways into international development and narrow down my broad interest in human rights and development to the more specific area of global health. She also suggested that I build up my CV by getting involved in some extracurricular activities in this area during my final year at Cambridge.

the careers adviser I saw was quick to realise I had absolutely no interest in being a consultant

Looking at international development-related extracurricular activities in Cambridge, I came across the Students for Global Health (SfGH) society. SfGH is a society focused on creating a network of students empowered to affect tangible social and political change in health on a local, national and global level through education, advocacy and community action. It sounded perfect! In my first meeting with SfGH, I was amazed by the diversity of individual backgrounds joined together by a common passion for global health. I met medics, scientists and sociologists interested in topics from single disease issues to the interaction between health and climate change. Keen to replicate this fantastic experience on a larger scale, I joined the Cambridge World Health Organisation simulation (CamWHO) subcommittee. WHO simulations aim to gather students and young professionals from all around the world to discuss prominent global health issues and draft a resolution which is formerly sent to the World Health Assembly in Geneva. It is a fantastic experience to meet new people and gain skills and knowledge in global health, international development and diplomacy.

The specific theme of CamWHO 2019 is Health and Gender. This is a particularly interesting topic as it combines hotly debated issues such as sexual and reproductive health and rights with less debated but no less important issues such as male mental health and discrimination against transgender individuals in health services. Speakers for the event include Dr Charlotte Proudman, a feminist barrister who represents women and girls in cases of gender-based violence and Dr Leyla Hussein OBE, a psychotherapist and world-leading expert on FGM. The simulation is happening on 6th-8th September and you can find out more about the event and purchase tickets on our Facebook page.

The experience of organising this has been a great learning experience and has helped to strengthen my desire to work in global health. Within SfGH, I have also been involved with awareness and fundraising campaigns and helped to organise and attend talks by leading global health professionals such as Sir Michael Marmot. SfGH has been a hugely important and exciting part of my CV. I would very much like to thank the Careers Service for recommending the society to me as well as helping me with my CVs and cover letters. With the help of the Careers Service, and particularly Amanda Norman, I had the luxury of choosing between summer internship offers from the World Health Organisation, the Global Alliance for Improved Nutrition and UNAIDS where I am currently working. This year has been a brilliant journey of self-discovery and has given me newfound ambition for my future.

Learn more about careers in international development on our Career Sectors A-Z pages, and sign up for CamCareers to receive sector-specific emails from our careers advisers throughout the year

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