Interns are typically completing capstones or practicums for graduate school requirements or gaining experience for their own professional development. A capstone culminates in a project or research paper, while a practicum is meant to provide practical experience in public health. Some graduate schools require both types of internships and many combine components from both programs. In either case, these interns usually have specific requirements that need to be completed. Alternatively, some interns pursue internships to further their own professional development outside of graduate school. These interns may be more flexible as they have no external requirements.
Since internships are frequently a requirement for graduate school programs, students may contact host sites inquiring about available opportunities. Alternatively, health departments can contact schools of public health to publicize the opening(s). Interns can also be placed through the Association of Schools and Programs of Public Health (ASPPH) or Area Health Education Centers (AHEC). Departments should contact representatives from these organizations (local chapters if possible) to find out more information. The National Environmental Public Health Internship Program (NEPHIP), administered through NEHA, matches students and health departments using funding from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Health departments must apply to be host sites through the program. Additionally, interns can be hired through Limited Term Employment (LTE) programs. Some more developed programs send out formal applications and conduct interviews to ensure that the intern is a good fit in the department. The Council of State and Territorial Epidemiologists (CSTE) and several other organizations run the Applied Epidemiology Fellowship. The CDC runs a program called the Public Health Associate Program. Both opportunities fund recent graduates to work at local or state health departments or nonprofit organizations for two years, the former with a focus on epidemiology. These programs allow for fellows to engage in long term projects and more fully integrate into the program staff. Departments can apply to be host sites to obtain fellows.