The Forage Talent Resource Center

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Forage Launching Public Health Virtual Experience Program

Forage is excited to launch a new virtual experience program with the Australasian Society for HIV, Viral Hepatitis and Sexual Health Medicine (ASHM) — Australasia’s leading public not-for-profit health agency providing support for the HIV, viral hepatitis, and sexual health workforce.

A virtual experience program is a tool for career discovery and talent attraction. It’s an online program that distils the workplace into a series of hypothetical tasks. It gives employers access to bright-minded talent and helps participants crystalize their career path. 

Jessica Michaels is the Director of Programs at ASHM. She manages the organization’s national policy and education division across the HIV, sexual health, and hepatitis B and C programs.  

Jessica says launching a virtual experience program with Forage is a way to highlight ASHM’s vital work and attract young people to the sector by showcasing the breadth of public health work.

“The COVID-19 pandemic has shone a spotlight on public health, highlighting for all of us the importance of public health organizations like ASHM.”

New virtual experience program hopes to shatter stigma

Jessica says people living with HIV, hepatitis B, and hepatitis C experience stigma and discrimination regularly. 

“Most people living with these diseases still experience stigma and discrimination in health care settings, from receptionists to practice nurses and GPs. It’s shocking.” 

“When people experience stigma and discrimination, they become reluctant to engage in health care. This is particularly problematic for people living with conditions like HIV and hepatitis B or C, which need to be treated and managed.”

“Forage has given us an opportunity to promote the incredible work that can be achieved by public health organizations. The program highlights the importance of an ongoing commitment to people affected by HIV and viral hepatitis, and to promoting sexual health.”

How the virtual experience program works

The virtual experience program distils the ‘workplace’ into a series of engaging, real-life, self-guided tasks. ASHM’s program is modelled on real-world tasks and projects undertaken by someone working in public health.

When participants complete the program, they obtain a certificate they can add to their resume and use as a talking point in job interviews. Participants will leave the program with demonstrable skills that employers in public health organizations are looking for. 

“The breadth of work available in public health is fascinating. The tasks within ASHM’s virtual experience program are diverse and interesting,” says Jessica.

“Our program includes everything from how to write a project design document, how to map out key stakeholders, and how to write a research abstract.”

The scalable, virtual experience is geared toward people studying or interested in careers in public health, policy, and medical fields. It helps participants develop key skills and experience they will need for a career in public health. 

“We’re really excited that the program is completely open access and free to everyone. We hope to give people worldwide an insight into the tools and skills needed to address some of the most serious public health issues affecting people today.”  

Building a pipeline of talent 

The virtual experience program not only showcases ASHM’s work, it gives the organization access to a cohort of enthusiastic, motivated young talent, including those studying relevant disciplines at university, college, or school. 

“The virtual experience program is building us a recruitment pipeline,” says Jessica. “Bringing fresh, smart minds into public health is vital. We hope participants use the program to show employers in the public health sector they’re proactive about upskilling and have the practical skills to succeed in the industry.” 

Jeremy Grunfeld is Head of University Partnerships at Forage. 

“Since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic, more of our university partners are approaching us asking for health-related virtual work experiences. We’re seeing a real demand from students interested in public health careers,” he says. 

“ASHM’s new virtual experience program is a really exciting opportunity for our 250-plus university partners that could integrate ASHM’s program straight into their curriculum.”

Forage made the experience a breeze

“We have loved working with the Forage team and have been endlessly impressed with their energy, enthusiasm, and support,” says Jessica. 

“The implementation and design phase of building the program has been really positive. Forage had all the resources and expertise to bring our vision to life. We felt as though we were in safe hands throughout.”

Calling all public health students and not-for-profits

If you’re interested in a public health career, you can take part in ASHM’s virtual experience program. It’s free and only takes a few minutes to sign up.  

Jessica says the opportunity to launch a virtual experience program with Forage is one other not-for-profits should definitely consider. 

“Absolutely, do it. An opportunity like this helps inspire and equip the next generation moving into the sector and it gives you a great reason to take a step back and acknowledge the incredible work you do as an organization.” 

Katie Noonan is Global Head of Social Impact at Forage.

“We are thrilled to advocate for an organization like ASHM and excited to help give careers in the public health sector greater visibility and accessibility,” she says.  

“Our programs are a great opportunity for not-for-profit organizations like ASHM to generate a cohort of advocates and potential employees for their organization. A virtual experience program could garner new volunteers or even new donors.”

“We are actively looking for new not-for-profit partners who are thinking innovatively about how to find, attract, and inspire young people into the social impact sector.”

If you’re a not-for-profit and you’re interested in creating a virtual experience program like ASHM’s, you can get in contact with Katie via email or LinkedIn

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