Hannah Gould (PhD ’18, Public Health)

What did you study at Yale? What is your current profession/job?

I received a PhD in the Epidemiology of Microbial Disease concentration from the Yale School of Public Health. Currently, I am Assistant Commissioner for the Bureau of Epidemiology Services at the New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene.

What do you like most about your current role? What do you find most challenging and/or rewarding?

New York City is an amazing place to live and work. The city’s size and diversity provide an array of public health challenges and opportunities, and the Health Department is at the forefront of innovation in public health. We are deeply committed as an agency to eliminating health disparities and it is exciting to be a part of and help guide this work.

How did your time at Yale shape your career trajectory?

I have a ‘hard sciences’ background, and would not be where I am today without my 5 years in New Haven! Yale helped me to bridge from the basic sciences to a career in applied epidemiology. I also created a strong network of other public health professionals that has supported me personally and professionally.

What are the main skills that you acquired as a GSAS student which help make you successful in your current career?

(1) Tenacity. Earning a PhD is tough work and for me, a bit like being on a roller coaster. There were times I wasn’t sure I would make it, but I did!
(2) Work-life balance. I realized during graduate school that I had to enjoy my life as well as my work or I’d burn out, so I established what have come to be lifelong habits of taking breaks, enjoying hobbies, spending time with family and friends, and not checking my work email 24/7.

Did you acquire any professional experience related to your line of work while in graduate school?

Actually, not really. Serving as a McDougal Fellow helped me build leadership skills but otherwise my experiences at Yale are very different from what I am doing now!

What advice would you offer PhDs who are interested in your line of work?

This is perhaps more generic advice than my line of work specifically…Talk to people who are doing what you think looks interesting and ask them how they got to where they are. My experience is that there are many paths to the same place and most people love to share their stories. No path is set in stone, so don’t feel like you have to decide today what you will be doing in 20 years. Start somewhere, and if you don’t love it, keep iterating towards what fits best with your life, skills, and interests.