Turning great ideas into healthier communities


Adapting and Connecting at Gallaudet University

October 14, 2016 | Katy Magill, Global Health Fellows Program II | This post first appeared on the Global Health Fellows Program II blog.

October has been a busy month for the Recruitment Team! My colleague Natalie and I were excited to head to the Fall 2016 Career Fair at Gallaudet University this past Friday, just a short ride across the city from our offices in Washington, DC. From a recruiter’s perspective, career fairs and outreach events are great opportunities for us to interact with the folks who may one day become candidates for our internships and fellowships.

Gallaudet is a unique university. Since its founding in 1864, it has become one of the world’s foremost institutions of higher learning dedicated to the education of deaf and hard of hearing students. It strives to offer a fully immersive and inclusive campus environment by encouraging all students and community members to communicate in American Sign Language (ASL), even if they themselves are not deaf or hard of hearing. Upon arrival, we quickly got the sense that the Gallaudet student body is a very tightknit community; with an undergraduate population of just over 1,800 students, there were lots of friendly greetings between gathering students in both English and ASL.

Pictured: Gallaudet University student takes advantage of free career resources offered by GHFP-II.

After signing in and heading to our booth, we were introduced to our interpreter, Mo, who would stay with us throughout the day to help facilitate conversations with students and community members. Mo brought a wealth of knowledge about how to communicate effectively and respectfully through an interpreter with her many years of experience working with the deaf community. Here are just a few of the tips she shared with us:

  • When meeting an interpreter, introduce her/him to your topic of discussion. Mention any industry-specific phrases or jargon you are likely to use, so that he or she can determine how best to articulate those terms through ASL.
  • When speaking with someone, address that person and not the interpreter. Maintain eye contact with the person you’re speaking to as the interpreter relays their part of the conversation.
  • Take brief pauses between sentences to allow time for the interpreter to express your message.
  • Speak normally, using your natural inflections and body language – the interpreter will help to fully communicate your words and their meaning.
  • Fun fact: many interpreters choose to wear black or dark colored clothing while interpreting, so that their hands may be seen more clearly when signing.

I very much appreciated Mo’s expertise, patience, and kindness throughout the day since this was my first experience in a fully immersive ASL environment! There was a tangible atmosphere of enthusiasm the entire day, which made it a real pleasure to speak with diverse students about their experiences and interests in the field of global health. Since Natalie and I are both relatively new to the outreach scene, it was great to have her by our side at our booth as we answered questions and spoke to interested students about GHFP-II. As members of the Recruitment Team, we were particularly excited to speak with students about the various open positions with GHFP-II, as many of them were eligible to apply for our internship program.

GHFP-II Recruitment Specialist Katy Magill with the assistance of interpreter Mo, answers questions about fellowship and internship opportunities.

Students poured in as soon as the doors opened, and our booth stayed busy throughout the afternoon. At one point, there was a line of about 5 students waiting to have their questions answered. Many students who stopped by the booth were excited to learn that they can sign up for our email listserv, and be among the first to hear when new fellowship and internship positions become available throughout the year. Another great resource that we were able to direct people to is our free informational interviews, where a member of our program staff will speak with you about your career goals and interests, as well as offer a resume consultation to help strengthen your application for positions either with GHFP-II or another organization.

One particularly interested student was Christopher who has a Master’s degree in Public Health in addition to Bachelor’s degrees in Communications and Deaf Studies and a Master’s in Counseling and Psychology. When we shared the description of our current Senior Communications Advisor fellowship position he immediately pictured himself in this role supporting USAID’s health systems strengthening work. He is one of many attendees who will take full of advantage of our USB wristbands, which contain plenty of helpful resources about careers in international development and global health, tips for writing a great cover letter, and a resume guide and template to help your application stand out from the pack!

Driving back across DC at the end of the day, I was reminded once again of the importance of our mission, and I took a few minutes to reflect on just how lucky I am to spend my days connecting with the next generation of global health professionals.

Katy Magill is part of the recruitment team at Global Health Fellows Program II