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Expert advice for second-year master’s students in HEPM – Part I

As we approach our second year in the Health Economics, Policy, and Management program at Karolinska Institutet, many of us are filled with questions and anticipation about the journey ahead. To provide a piece of expert advice for second-year master’s students, I had the privilege of interviewing Assoc. Professor Mathilde Sengoelge, one of our esteemed professors. Her insights are not only timely but also incredibly valuable for anyone navigating this path.

Introduction and career insights

Professor Mathilde

Assoc. Professor Mathilde Sengoelge is a distinguished faculty member with an impressive background. “I am French-American and have worked in injury prevention research and policy, first in the United States at the Johns Hopkins Center for Injury Research and Policy, and then in Austria with the Austrian Road Safety Board,” she shares. In addition to her research projects, she managed significant conferences such as the 1st European Conference on Injury Prevention and Safety Promotion in Vienna and the World Injury Prevention and Safety Promotion Conference.

Her academic credentials are equally impressive. “I am a Truman scholar and hold a Ph.D. from the Karolinska Institutet in Sweden, a Master of Public Health from the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health in the U.S., and a Bachelor of Science in Physical Therapy,” she notes. Professor Mathilde has always been dedicated to equity issues and fields that aim to make the world better and more equitable with health and rights for all.

Maximizing the summer break

When it comes to making the most of our summer break, Mathilde emphasizes the importance of rest and rejuvenation. “I suggest sleep, unplugging, and lots of exposure to nature to regenerate and be well-rested for the second year,” she advises. Indeed, after a demanding first year, taking time to relax and recharge is crucial. “Of course travelling, taking a dip in the ocean, or getting lost in a good book are also great to pursue in the summer.” These activities can help us return to our studies with renewed energy and focus.

But summer isn’t just about unwinding. It’s also an excellent opportunity for reflection and personal growth. Mathilde encourages us to think back on our first year and consider our most important takeaways. “Set some goals for how you want to grow as a person and as a student in year two, as you near your goal of graduating with a master’s degree,” she advises.

Adding, “…while there aren’t specific skills or knowledge areas that you need to focus on, this time can be well spent on self-assessment and goal setting.” By understanding what we’ve learned and where we want to go, we can approach the second year with a clearer vision and greater determination.

Internship opportunities

Securing internships in health economics, policy, and management can be a pivotal step in our career development. Mathilde highlights the importance of leveraging a strong network and actively communicating our interests. “A strong network is a key factor, as well as communicating about your interest on LinkedIn or in person when meeting professors or doctoral students,” she suggests. Moreover, “building relationships and letting people know that you’re open to internship opportunities, even if unpaid, can open many doors. Volunteering your time or expressing your willingness to take on internships without immediate funding can also showcase your dedication and eagerness to gain experience.”

When it comes to specific recommendations, Mathilde points to valuable opportunities such as the OECD internships in health economics in Paris, particularly for those holding citizenship in an OECD country. “Contact me if interested,” she adds, showing her willingness to help connect students with these opportunities. Moreover, she advises letting your network know your availability and interests. “Informing faculty of what you want to do makes it easier to connect students with relevant opportunities,” she explains.

Choosing the right track (economics, policy, or management)

Deciding which track to focus on—be it economics, policy, or management—can be a challenging decision. Mathilde offers practical advice on this matter. She believes that having a good working relationship with your supervisor can be more crucial than the specific track you choose. “For the degree project, for example, I believe it is more important to have a good working relationship with the supervisor than what track to be in,” she notes. Flexibility is key, as sometimes being at the right place at the right time can play a significant role in receiving a thesis project. “Luck plays a part.”

Her insights when it comes to the key differences and potential career paths associated with each track –

Policy: – Entering the policy field directly from the Master’s level can be challenging. “Policy is difficult to enter from the Master level, as policymakers often started as health experts on a topic before doing policy work,” she explains. Gaining expertise in a specific health topic can be a beneficial stepping stone before moving into policy roles.

Health economics: – Health economics offers tangible skills that can be highlighted on your CV. “It is a valuable skill to put on your CV that you can do health economic modelling, for example, as a real skill,” she says.

Management: – A career in management typically requires experience within an industry setting. “Management usually requires a good network and putting the hours in to get to know a particular setting,” she advises. Building a strong network and gaining industry-specific experience are crucial steps for those interested in pursuing a management track.

Wrapping up the first part of the interview…

Maximising our summer break and securing valuable internships can set the stage for a successful second year in our program. Assoc. Professor Mathilde’s advice on rest, reflection, and networking offers practical steps we can take to enhance our academic and professional journeys.

Please stay tuned for Part Two of this blog. Till then enjoy Martin’s weekend in Gothenburg and Helsingborg.

Yohannes - Health Economics Policy and Management

Yohannes - Health Economics Policy and Management

Hi there! My name is Yohannes, and I come from Ethiopia, the Cradle of Humanity. I've always been curious and ambitious, and my journey to Karolinska Institutet is a testament to that. I studied medicine and developed a deep fascination with the intersection of healthcare, economics, policy-making, and management. This passion led me to KI. I look forward to learning more about healthcare economics and becoming a part of the vibrant international community at KI. In my free time, I enjoy writing and drawing, always exploring and trying new things.


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