SPH Alumni Reflection: Jessica Beckwith, MPH ‘08, PHAP

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																			August 27, 2014
					

Jessica Beckwith is senior director of clinical business development at Planned Parenthood of Minnesota, North Dakota, South Dakota.

Beckwith-photo“The Public Health Administration & Policy (PHAP) program really helped prepare me for my career,” she says. “In addition to my previous work experience, the PHAP curriculum provided core knowledge of health policy, economics and management that helped me ‘speak the language’ more effectively. Without this, I wouldn’t have the in-depth understanding of our healthcare system that I do today.”

Additionally, Beckwith notes that the challenges of balancing grad school, work and life honed her organizational and time management skills—which serve well in all aspects of her life.

Beckwith has an undergraduate degree in economics and was looking to advance her education when she enrolled in the MPH-PHAP program.

Originally from Denver, Colo., Beckwith moved to the Twin Cities in 2005. Prior to joining the MPH-PHA program, she worked at the National Marrow Donor Program (now Be the Match ).

The MPH-PHAP program was a good match with her economics background and interests in management and administration.

Beyond the course work, Jessica stressed the importance of the power of people.

“I’ve found my best jobs through networking with people and, without a doubt, networking is the most valuable skill I’ve learned.”

Furthermore, she felt that whether her career took her towards a PhD or working in non-profits, the PHAP program would prepare her for either path.

After graduation, Beckwith spent two years at McKinsey, a management consulting firm. She was able to apply her education and experience in various areas, but specifically focused on strategy and growth in hospitals.

This experience later led to a position in strategy and business development for Fairview Health Services, primarily at Amplatz Children’s Hospital.

Beyond finding the perfect job, Beckwith attests to the importance of finding great people to work with.

“I’ve been happiest working with great people, regardless of the specific task at hand—as long as the mission is one I feel good about. Those relationships have lasted long beyond the actual job, and become the people I go to with questions in my life—whether work-related or not,” she says.

Beckwith advises that students starting their careers should be open-minded and recognize that any opportunity will provide good experience, learning, and connections.

“I remember trying to figure out what I want to do when I graduated from college, when I finished PHAP, and I still go through that process every few years,” she reflects.

“There’s no right answer and, as long as we learn something from every volunteer position, internship, or job, each experience will impact where we go next. The idea of a ‘career’ is evolving and changing and we might actually miss out on some of the richness if we try too hard to ‘have it all figured out’. “

~ Post by Mona Rath 

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