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Career change???

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Not sure if this is the right place to post this topic, but it doesn't really mesh with the other forums either.

I've been thinking and thinking about a career change.  Probably going back to school.

I've spent the last 8 years working as a musician as well as doing computer work part-time (I have an undergrad in music performance).  I'd just pool it all together every month and try and pay my bills.  I still have no idea how I've done this for so long as it has always been financially difficult.  I was already experiencing alot of dismay in music when I was diagnosed with HIV.  I guess I just couldn't continue the struggle in music when faced with such a huge health and life change that HIV presents. Maybe I'll wake up tomorrow and change my mind about this as I can't stop loving music, but have definitely stopped playing music.

Anyway, if one were to want to seek a career in HIV/AIDS services or policy what would they study? The people who work at UNAIDS or the Clinton Foundation...what are their expertise?  Or all these ASO's...what do these people study?  I imagine social work is one obvious answer, but then I just run out of answers on what I need to look into.  A Public Policy degree? Political Science???

I'd like to just get involved and see where it might take me, but working six days a week puts a pretty serious time crunch on me.  I'm afraid a major shift may be what it comes down to.  And dropping some work and becoming a student again might be what it takes.

I've tried to search the net for answers but have gotten nowhere.  I know some of you can paint me a clear picture and give me something to think about.

Many thanks for your help.


Hey Brian,

Been there, glad I did that!  ;D

I made a complete careeer change, albeit unplanned, when I was 47 years old. Scary, but I don't regret it a bit.

I would check around and ask at your local ASO to see what it is they look for in case managers, or whatever position about which you are curious.

I was a reporter/editor for nearly 18 years. At first, I loved the work, but the more corporate it became, the less fun it was.

Finally, the paper I worked for was bought out by Gannett, which also publishes USA Today.

Long story short, after 16 years, I was given the boot, as was the publisher and editor. Now, only a few people remain who worked there a scant two years ago.

Anyway, after a few false starts in other fields, I started working as a case manager for an ASO here in Northwest New Mexico. All I had was a bachelor's degree in journalism. They usually look for someone with a social work or social services degree, but they were desperate because nobody wanted the rural areas.

I love it! It is crazy, frustrating, rewarding and challenging.

I hope this helps a little.





Thanks for your advice and perspective. This is definitely one area I want to look into.

Still wondering about these larger global organizations like UNAIDS and NGO's. Anyone know where I can find info on the kind of expertise needed for these sort of organizations?


Another graduate degree worth considering is the MPH  -- Master's in Public Health. Interdisciplinary, allowing flexibility in choosing a concentration, planning a career. Here are links to a famous MPH program, at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health:

Of course, this is just one suggestion.


JR Gabbard:
Hey Brian--

   The best advice I ever got on this issue was:  Follow your bliss.  Figure out what makes you the happiest, and go for that.  Most ASO jobs don't require much specialized training, just a lot of compassion.  You will probably be able to pick up what skills you need on the job.

   Also, contact the HR departments at the organizations you mentioned (UNAIDS and Clinton Found.) and ask them what they are looking for in an employee, and what jobs they hire for.  HR people are usually willing to give an informational interview.

   If you are on Social Security, you might be able to get funding for your education through a PASS plan.  Talk to your local SSA office.

   I've worked in the area for a while now, and it can be very rewarding.

Best of luck,



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