Tips for finding an internship in public health

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In addition to the skills and knowledge students gain during their core and concentration-specific courses in the University of Arizona online Master of Public Health program, students can also build their capabilities through the required internship. All professionals who take part in UA’s online Master of Public Health will complete a 6-unit field placement internship as part of their studies, whether they elect the Applied Epidemiology, Health Services Administration or Health Promotion concentration. An internship is a great opportunity for Master of Public Health students to apply what they’ve learned in their courses in real-life, professional settings, while expanding their knowledge and networking with public health workers. However, to get the most benefit from this internship, it’s important for students to find the right place to complete their field study.

Benefits of a field placement internship

An online program, like the Mel and Enid Zuckerman College online Master of Public Health, provides a level of flexibility thanks to students’ ability to complete all of their required core and concentration-specific classwork through online platforms. These courses support an array of important skills, and no matter where students are located, they are able to put this knowledge to the test in a hands-on manner in their field placement internship. Although some internships may provide a stipend for student participation, MPHOnline notes that most internships in this field are unpaid. However, there is much else to be gained through a public health internship experience:

  • The ability to work in the public health industry in your local area. An online program like UA’s MPH includes students from all over the country. The required internship encourages students to get to know the public health sector in their own local region.
  • An opportunity to network with local professionals. In addition to allowing for a more robust understanding of the local public health sector, the internship also allows MPH students to network with those they encounter during their internship and explore potential career routes for after graduation.
  • Enable a hands-on understanding of public health processes. MPH online coursework is valuable and in-depth, but there’s no substitute for real-life experience in a professional setting.

How does an internship work?

Students often take part in internships after they’ve completed their concentration-focused coursework. In this way, internship placement will take place toward the latter half of the online MPH program. In order to qualify, students must have the proper minimum grade point average and test scores. In addition, the internship must align with other specific program requirements to ensure students are given the opportunity to get the experience they need to support their education. Students may also be asked to fill out an application, which may include an essay, and support this with references and other documents. Depending upon the nature of the public health sector in students’ local area, organizations may have several applicants to consider, and the more detail and level of experience that can be demonstrated, the better students’ chances of being accepted. Check out our video to learn more about internship requirements.

How to find a public health internship

Before students apply for an internship position, they must find an organization offering such an opportunity. Here are a few tips and best practices:

  • Consider the possible sector(s): As MPHonline noted, there may be opportunities available in different sections of the public health industry, depending upon students’ concentration, and it’s important to examine all available options. For example, an individual specializing in Health Promotion may find field placement positions in nonprofit organizations, government agencies or in specific health care facilities.
  • Search based on a specific topic: It can also be helpful to narrow the search to a specific area of study within students’ chosen concentration that is of particular interest. Students in the Health Services Administration concentration, for example, may search for opportunities in organizations that support health care technology services, or those specializing in health care laws and regulations.
  • Check available opportunities through the university: The University of Arizona allows agencies to advertise internship details to students. Because online students operate from all areas of the nation, there may not be opportunities advertised through UA in your area. However, it’s always worthwhile to check.
  • Take a closer look at services and mission statement: Students should also take the time to dig a little deeper into the programs offered by the organization, its mission statement and full-service portfolio to ensure the potential opportunity will be a good fit.
  • Reach out to each organization for more detail: Those interested in an internship position should reach out to the organization to obtain as much detail as possible about the opportunity, the activities it will entail and the specific skills it will help build.

The field internship is an integral part of Master of Public Health students’ studies, and is crucial to ensuring students graduate with real-world experience needed to succeed in the public health field. To find out more, connect with one of our enrollment advisors today.

Recommended Readings:

Which core classes can you take in the online MPH program?

Walking through the application process for the UA MPH online degree


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