Employer Spotlight: Carlo Varquez (MS ’18) LifeStart

The Health Care & Science (HCS) Career Community wants to introduce students to a wide range of careers. Students may be familiar with popular clinical roles (e.g., nurse, physician, veterinarian), but less familiar with jobs like healthcare data analytics, health administration, or biotech research.  

Today, we highlight a certified personal trainer, certified nutrition coach, and small business owner. In a virtual interview, Debbie Kaltman (HCS Employer Engagement Specialist) spoke with Carlo Varquez (MS Exercise Physiology ‘18) to learn about his educational and career journey, insights into pursuing preventative health and fitness professions, and advice to students.

Carlo’s educational and clinical experiences in the healthcare industry shifted his perspective and career goals to focus on preventing rather than treating health issues. In the health promotion, wellness, and fitness industry, Carlos serves as a general manager for LifeStart and founder of Pride Wellness, a small business built to empower clients to invest in their overall health via online classes and coaching sessions. As a certified fitness trainer and nutrition coach, Carlos seeks to take care of other people’s health so they come to feel better about themselves, believe they’re part of something, and vision their life in different ways. He plans to keep learning to become a “master trainer” who has a well-rounded skill set and is well-known as a person who will work hard for his clients.

Carlo’s advice to students interested in preventative health, wellness, and fitness: “Invest in yourself first before you invest in others! A) It gives you credibility. You practice what you preach. B) If you’re not following the right steps to keep yourself healthy, it’s going to be hard to advise others to be healthy.”

“Take every opportunity no matter how big it may seem. If you feel like it’s the right thing in your gut, just do it. I’m a big advocate for that gut feeling. It doesn’t make sense, you don’t know why it’s making you feel this way, but it feels right at the same time. Just follow your gut and take care of yourself.”

How I got this job: Valentina Djordjevic Physician Assistant

During Spring Quarter 2021, the Health Care & Science Career Community team sat down with DePaul students to learn about the educational and career journey of DePaul alum, Valentina Djordjevic (Health Sciences, ‘16). After completing the Physician Assistant (PA) program at Rosalind Franklin University, she is now a PA-C at Able Psychiatry. Valentina shared her story of gaining research, work, volunteer, and clinical experiences while at DePaul, deciding to pursue a career as a PA, her current job responsibilities, and her future career goals. In this event, Valentina highlighted what being a PA means to her and the importance of pursuing your passions.

Words of wisdom from Valentina Djordjevic

Valentina on deciding to become a PA:

“For me it was pretty easy to be a PA because it was quick. Two years seemed pretty doable for me. It offered me the opportunity to work in multiple specialties which I liked at that time because I wasn’t exactly sure that I wanted to be in psychiatry. The GRE also seemed more doable than the MCAT for me. I also liked that there wasn’t a residency requirement for PA school. I really liked that I could get this degree and then start working right away. I wanted to stay in the sciences. I wanted to help people. I wanted to be financially independent and be able to have a good income. I think it was a pretty easy decision for me to go into the PA track.” 

Valentina on the importance of mentoring for a PA:

“A piece of advice about post-PA school is that you really want to find a job where you will be taught. There are a ton of opportunities for PAs out there, and they seem really appealing. They’re going to throw a lot of money at you, and just be careful that they don’t throw you out to the wolves because PA school is really fast. You’re getting this degree with the hope that you’ll be trained really well at your first job, but if you aren’t, you’re gonna have a huge stunt in your growth. It’s really important to have a mentor: someone that you can ask questions to, someone that is expecting you to not know what you’re doing. If it’s a good growth opportunity, that might be better than a more appealing pay stub at the end of the day because if you get good training, you can go anywhere.”

How I got this job: Nia Hurst Research Biologist

During Winter Quarter 2021, the Health Care & Science Career Community team sat down with DePaul students to learn about the educational and career journey of DePaul alumna Nia Hurst (’14). From an Environmental Sciences major to working as a Research Biologist in the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Nia shared her story of getting involved at DePaul, gaining experience with research labs, and her current job responsibilities. In this event, she highlighted the power of networking because the connections she made  opened doors to so many opportunities.

Words of wisdom from Nia

Nia on building her network and maximizing connections:

“I think it’s really true that you have to expand your network and connect with people to let them know what you’re interested in. Expressing what your interests are to as many people as you can like your advisor and other graduate students. I would also really recommend going to events like conferences, luncheons, and other networking events.”

Nia on the primary responsibilities of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers:

“When there is a regional issue that needs to be addressed (e.g., wetland development to offset phosphorus pollution, mangrove forest development to alleviate hurricane impact), we conduct longitudinal research studies on best practices for that regional development project. There are a lot of different projects. It’s applied research that you do for the sake of knowledge.”

Nia on the diversity of scientific roles available in the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers:

“I’m a research biologist, but we work with engineers, statisticians, computer specialists. There’s a lot of people to build out a team with, a lot of opportunities for a lot of different types of scientists.”

Employer Spotlight: Michael Reynolds (MPA ’21) at HealthJoy

The Health Care & Science (HCS) Career Community wants to introduce students to a wide range of careers. Students may be familiar with popular clinical roles (e.g., nurse, physician, veterinarian), but less familiar with jobs like healthcare data analytics, health administration, or biotech research.  

HealthJoy is an app that aims to improve the healthcare experience by guiding users to accessible professionals and resources. In this interview, Debbie Kaltman (HCS Employer Engagement Specialist) spoke with Michael Reynolds (MPA ‘21) to learn about his educational and career journey, his insights to students about making career changes, and his current role as a Customer Success Operations Manager.

Michael’s passions for learning as much as he can, building relationships with people, and supporting others have helped him grow in his professional goal of being a public servant. His career journey brought him to different professional industries — including theatre (fun fact: Michael has a BFA in Playwriting!), retail sales, and healthcare — and they all allowed him to explore his broader passions. As a Customer Success Operations Manager, Michael analyzes customer data and feedback to solve problems, improve their services, and help build the platform. This data-centered role is a professional pivot from Michael’s previous work in customer relations and success, but he views it as an opportunity to continue learning. Michael continues to seek experiences where he can build meaningful relationships and help others.

Michael’s advice to current students: “What you study in undergrad does not dictate what your career will look like. Taking advantage of the communities around you can be helpful. Volunteer, network… see what’s going on in the world around you, and see where your passions take you!”

This Week’s Hiring Trends: Health Care & Science

Updated 8/21/2020

HCS Hospital Spotlight: Shirley Ryan AbilityLab

In this new Health Care & Science Career Community series, we will be highlighting a different hospital system each month!  

The Shirley Ryan AbilityLab (formerly the Rehabilitation Institute of Chicago) describes itself as “the first-ever “translational” research hospital where clinicians, scientists, innovators and technologists work together in the same space, applying research in real time to physical medicine and rehabilitation.”  AbilityLab is a global leader in rehabilitation for adults and children with “innovation centers” for brain, spinal cord, nerve/muscle/bone, pediatric and cancer-related injuries and conditions.  AbilityLab conducts research and is a training site for physical therapy, occupational therapy and medical students too.  They even have a state-of-the-art adaptive sports and fitness facility to ensure people of all abilities can stay active!

A major hospital like the AbilityLab has 3000+ employees, and they are currently hiring!

Interested in research?  Apply to be a Research Assistant in the Center for Rehabilitation Outcomes Research.  Work as a Patient Dining Assistant in a part-time role or as a Laboratory Technician in a full-time position.  Learn about rehab work as a Rehabilitation Technician.  Nursing students and alumni can also view AbilityLab’s nursing careers page to apply for current openings.  To apply and to find more open positions, visit the Shirley Ryan AbilityLab’s careers page.  

Many other hospital employers regularly post jobs on Handshake, so remember to complete your Handshake profile!   There are over 900 employers with active postings who are looking to hire DePaul students right now! Meet with your Health Care & Science Career Advisor to make sure you are showcasing the skills and experiences employers are looking for. 


Updated 7/17/2020

In this new Health Care & Science Career Community series, we will be highlighting a different hospital system each month!  

NorthShore University HealthSystem (NorthShore) is a health care system with five hospitals and a 900-physician outpatient practice.  NorthShore serves as a primary teaching hospital site for medical students attending the University of Chicago’s Pritzker School of Medicine.  Additionally, NorthShore has its own research institution and philanthropy foundation.  

Between the hospitals and outpatient practice offices, over 10,000 people work for NorthShore!

NorthShore is currently hiring!  They are hiring for CNAs, EMTs and Student Nurses for their Patient Care Technician role, a great entry-level health care position.  Many positions (include Patient Care Technicians) only require a high school diploma, so you can apply even if you are still a student. 

Other open positions include:

Research Study Coordinator
Laboratory Associate
Patient Access Rep- Call Center

To apply and to find more open positions, visit NorthShore’s Careers page and start your health care career today! 

Many other hospital employers regularly post jobs on Handshake, so remember to complete your Handshake profile!   There are over 900 employers with active postings who are looking to hire DePaul students right now! Meet with your Health Care & Science Career Advisor to make sure you are showcasing the skills and experiences employers are looking for. 

Key takeaways:

  • NorthShore University HealthSystem is one of the major hospital and health care systems in the Chicago area
  • NorthShore employs over 10,000 people and is currently hiring!
  • Nursing students, recent graduates and alumni should visit NorthShore’s Careers page to view and apply for current openings

Updated 7/10/20

Given the rapid changes associated with the pandemic, we will be regularly sharing reporting trends in hiring sectors across the Chicago area in the Health Care & Science career community. 

This week, we’re looking at Health Care & Science industry employers actively recruiting on Handshake: 

Remember the importance of completing your Handshake profile so employers can proactively reach out to you!   There are over 900 employers with active postings who are looking to hire DePaul students right now! Meet with your Health Care & Science Career Advisor to make sure you are showcasing the skills and experiences employers are looking for. 

Key takeaways:

  • Over 900 companies are currently hiring on Handshake!  Complete your Handshake profile so they can contact you!
  • Find open positions in Health Care & Science industries in government, large companies and startups.
  •  Meet with your Health Care & Science Career Advisor for advice in your job search process!

Updated 6/24/2020

What can I do with a passion for health care besides clinical professions?  One idea is to consider a career in healthcare administration.   Health care is a business and, like every other business, it needs good management to keep it running smoothly.  One area of increasing importance is electronic health records (EHR)- these are used for tracking patient visits, medical histories, recording laboratory results, tracking insurance and payment information and providing preventative health education.  Professionals who manage EHR may be called Health Information Technicians, Medical Records Technicians, Health Services Managers or Medical Coding Specialists.

According to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), health information technician and related jobs are expected to grow 11% in the next 5-8 years.  As the US older adult population ages, the BLS expects demand to continue to increase for professionals to manage increasingly-complex electronic health records.   Vault recommends being hands-on and organized, and also indicates that the hiring outlook is higher than average for aspiring health information technicians.  According to EMSI, 84% of health information technician postings in Illinois in 2019-2020 required 0-3 years of experience, so many positions are appropriate for recent college graduates.  

Find health information positions at hospitals, medical practices, city/state health departments, insurance companies and EHR platform providers.  Some of the major EHR platform providers include:

Epic (you have probably used their platform MyChart at your most recent medical appointment)
Cerner
Allscripts

Health care management will continue to remain important through the COVID-19 pandemic and beyond, so explore a career in this growing field today!

Key takeaways:

  • Turn your passion for health sciences into a career in health care administration
  • Health Information Technologists manage the large volumes of data in health care through Electronic Health Records (EHR)
  • Health Information Technology and related fields are expected to grow by 11% in the next 5-8 years; 84% of recently posted positions require 0-3 years of experience
  • Look for positions at hospitals, medical practices, health departments, insurance companies and EHR platform providers

Updated: 6/12/2020

Environmental Science and Sustainability

What can I do with a passion for environmental science or studies? One way is to turn your interests into a career in sustainability. What does this mean? According to UCLA, it is developing operating processes to meet the needs of present users with deep concern for future generations– especially as it relates to natural resource management.  Sustainability practices “support ecological, human and economic health and vitality… presuming that resources are finite and should be used wisely.” Put another way, sustainability “is about our children and our grandchildren, and the world we will leave them.”  

According to DePaul’s Alumni Sharing Knowledge (ASK) network, several DePaul alumni work in sustainability or related industries. Job titles include:

  • Atmospheric Scientist, Grants Officer for a sustainability department at a large nonprofit
  • Sustainability Manager for a food services company
  • Project Lead for a plant and chemicals company
  • Geospatial Engineer for a wildlife conservation organization 
  • Project Manager for a sustainable software company 
  • Volunteer Services for an arboretum 

All DePaul students and alumni should join the ASK network to connect with alums in these fields and others! 

Explore your career in sustainability today!  Here are some internships and jobs currently live on Handshake:


Search for more positions
on Handshake here! Filter by employer industry or use keywords like “sustainability” or “environmental” (or “sustainability” + “project manager”) to explore more related positions.  

Our Health Care & Science Career Community Advisor, Betsy Cahill, has a background in environmental studies and experience working in the environmental sustainability and clean energy fields.  She would love to talk with you more about various career paths – make an advising appointment today!

Environmental resources continue to be valuable and disappearing, so it is up to the next generation of sustainability professionals to ensure our natural resources are efficiently managed for years to come! 

Key Takeaways:

  • “Sustainability” means working efficiently with limited natural resources to support many facets of health and economics
  • Many DePaul alumni work in sustainability fields, and you can connect with them through the ASK network
  • Handshake also includes many jobs in sustainability fields!  Use keywords or search by industry to explore further. 

Expand Your Search: Opportunities in Health Care & Science

COVID-19 has spurred changes in hiring across many health care and science fields and industries with demand growing substantially in some areas and shifting in others. Read on to learn about four areas within the Health Care and Science Career Community that are experiencing growths or shifts and how you can follow the demand while searching for jobs, internships, or other opportunities.  

Hospitals


Hospitals, including those in Chicago, are staffing up to meet the demand of COVID-19. While clinical roles and jobs that require advanced degrees and certifications, such as registered nurses, are in very high demand, hospitals and health systems such as Advocate Health Care and Northwestern Medicine are also hiring for a range of roles that are well-suited for new grads, career pivoters, and experienced professionals alike with a range of different backgrounds.

Check out roles at hospitals and health systems if you have a background or interest in: data analysis, analytics, informatics, IT, computer science, project management, laboratory science and research, public safety and security, or customer service.

 

Public Health


Public health roles are also in high demand due to COVID-19. The CDC Foundation, for example, is currently hiring for a range of positions within its COVID Response Corps, including contact tracers, epidemiologists, nurses, project managers, administrative assistants, and more. The City of Chicago is continuing to look for staff to support the City’s COVID-19 efforts, including in roles such as Support Liaison I and Shelter Aides.  

Check out roles in public health if you have a background or interest in: community health, health policy, health and human services, customer service, or patient care. 

 

Laboratory Testing & Diagnostics


Diagnostic and medical laboratories, including a number in Illinois, are avidly hiring for roles such as medical and microbiology technologists, laboratory technicians and aides, and laboratory supervisors and managers.  

Check out roles at laboratory testing and diagnostics companies if you have a background or interest in: chemistry, biology, medical technology, clinical research, or lab skills and experience.

 

Environment, Natural Resources, and Energy


The clean energy industry has been hit hard by COVID-19. Workforce reductions have been seen across a variety of areas including energy efficiency companies and solar and wind companies, as workers have been unable, in many cases, to access homes, buildings, panels, and turbines amid the pandemic. A number of organizations in the environmental and natural resource fields, however, have continued to post new jobs amid the virus that offer opportunities for current students and alums alike.

  • Have a background or interest in ecology, biology, or laboratory science? Check out roles at environmental consulting, engineering, and services firms.
  • Interested in environmental health? Organizations across a range of industries are seeking to fill environmental health and safety roles.
  • Interested in natural resources, recreation, or environmental education? Check out seasonal opportunities at summer camps and park districts, as well as (online) fitness and wellness organizations.

 

The Career Center is here to support you throughout your job search process. Make an advising appointment with us to brainstorm possible roles and organizations that might be a good fit for you and how you can leverage your background, skills, and experience to capitalize on changing and shifting demands amid COVID-19.