Fellowship Interview

On Wednesday, March 13th I got a call from the CDC/CSTE Applied Epidemiology Fellowship Program’s Fellowship Administrator. The week before I had learned that my classmates who also applied had received emails that their applications had not made it through to the next round. I had been feverishly awaiting my own judgement and knew that I hadn’t received any notification yet; was I still being considered or had they already decided and I never got the email saying yes or no? Or even worse, had my application been lost entirely and never considered? After making inquiries via email and telephone, I got the call I had been waiting for. They wanted to know if I was still interested in the fellowship!

The next day my flight was booked and on March 25th I touched down in Atlanta. I hadn’t gotten much sleep at all the night before, and with 8 hours until my interview I was settling down for a nap in one of the terminals when I got a phone call. Flights up North and out West were being delayed from the bad snowstorm, so would I consider switching my time for an earlier slot so a delayed candidate could be seen later? I was happy to oblige, and after a short metro and taxi ride I was ready for my interview.

It was conducted by a panel of five epidemiologists, including the Director of the CSTE and a member of the CDC’s Maternal and Child Health division. Everyone was very kind, and after answering their questions and discussing my top host site choices in infectious disease I had the chance to ask my own questions and learn more about the program. Let me tell you, this fellowship program is incredible! I want an experience that will give me real world skills, an environment where I can take what I learned in school and apply it in a community, and an enthusiastic mentor who will guide me. This program has it all, and the success of their fellows after the two years are over speaks for itself.

I will be hearing from them soon to know if I have been accepted, and I hope my next update will be a good one!

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2 responses to “Fellowship Interview

  1. Hi,

    Thank you for sharing this experience. If you don’t mind, what kinds of questions were asked in the interview and how long was the interview for you? I applied for the fellowship this year and was curious about the interview process and you’re the only person I found online that spoke about the interview.

    Thank you in advance! I greatly appreciate your help.

    • Hi Johnny!

      I’m pretty sure that when I got the call I looked around online too and was dissappointed by the lack of experiences shared. I’m glad to help give you some idea of what to expect. First of all, a warning: irregardless of how confident you are before the interview (getting that invitation is just thrilling and gives you such a boost), it WILL be intimidating. Now, there’s not much you can do to change that, but if you recognize and accept that in advance you will be better prepared. Personally, I tend to enjoy interviews and revel in the chance to prove myself, but in this instance I found my throat closing up and my voice coming out weak and shaky. I think if I had realized ahead of time that I would be meeting the executive director of the CSTE, it wouldn’t have taken me so long to recover. To his credit, Dr. Engel was exceptionally kind and talked Gator sports to try and make me more comfortable.

      I think the best way to prepare for the questions asked is to put yourself in their shoes. What are the key qualities a candidate must have to succeed in this program, and how can they best assess these traits during an interview? They’re going to want to know about relevant experience that you have, where you want to be in the future, and most importantly that you are capable of handling the stresses associated with moving across the country and having major responsibilities in maintaining public health and safety. I believe my interview lasted 45 minutes, but a classmate of mine who was also interviewed told me that hers was 20 minutes long, so I guess it just varies.

      I hope this gives you a better idea of what you may experience. Good luck!

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