As a required feature of the MPH program at the Colorado School of Public Health, practice-based learning combines classroom learning with real world experiences. Practical work in applied settings facilitates networking with potential employers, the development of essential career-building skills, and jumpstarts life-long professional development. Considering the diversity of public health endeavors, practicum projects allow students to personalize their MPH experience and explore unique career opportunities. Jamila Bryant, a second year MPH student in the Physical Activities and Healthy Lifestyles concentration, made the most of her practicum experience as a 2016 summer intern with LiveWell Colorado.

Jamila’s practicum solidified concepts covered in the classroom and reinforced her future career aspirations. “Being new to the field of public health, a lot of knowledge acquired during my first year supported my familiarity with various topics, issues, and events that took place throughout my practicum,” said Jamila. The opportunity to work with an organization who is actively working on policy and environmental changes to promote healthy eating and active living was a great fit that aligned with Jamila’s hopes for the future. “My career aspirations include doing work in the community and/or state levels of public health where I am engaging with communities to reduce barriers and create opportunities. Working with an organization like LiveWell lets me know I made the right practicum decision.”

During her time with LiveWell, Jamila gained experience in policy and community partnership research, collaboration with community partners to promote healthy eating and active living, and integrating health equity into organizational operations. When reflecting on skills gained from this experience that could be applicable to future job searching, Jamila values “the ability to strategize organization/program goals and priorities with evaluations, the importance of effective and open communication, and the importance of humility when working with communities different than your own.”

Jamila’s positive practicum experience fueled a pre-existing passion for healthy eating, active living, and health equity. Some advice for future students searching for a practicum site, Jamila recommends, “consider the type of job you would like to do, find an organization that is currently performing that work, and reach out to them. I also highly recommend reaching out to staff members outside of your [practicum] preceptor. Doing this helped me gain a better understanding of the various roles within the organization and how they contribute to the bigger picture”.