Application Procedures

Student intern at public health departmentInterns can be recruited several different ways. Since internships are frequently a requirement for graduate school programs, students may contact health departments enquiring about available opportunities. In this instance staff members can work with students to determine if the program is a good fit. Alternatively, departments can contact local universities' public or environmental health programs. Some schools have online databases for students where internships, both paid and unpaid, are posted regularly. Oftentimes organizations can submit internship opportunities to these job boards. Additionally, schools may have internship coordinators who can connect students with opportunities that fit their interests. Departments should reach out to schools and make connections with internship coordinators, especially if they have a specific requirement for an intern or will regularly have internship opportunities available. 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). Students must be enrolled in a National Environmental Health Science and Protection Accreditation Council (EHAC) accredited environmental health academic program to apply. Health departments must also apply to be host sites through the program. 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. Establishing relationship with any or all these organizations will help departments find interns with matching skillsets and interests.  

The interview and application process depend largely on the internship program. More developed or funded programs may send out formal applications and conduct interviews. Applications can be disseminated through any of the channels described above. Interviews can also be useful in less developed programs to measure student interest and how he or she would fit into the department. A sample application is included in the resources section at the end of this document. Funded programs may also bring interns on under an LTE (limited term employment) contract. This can be beneficial as it allows students to go through the full on-boarding process and become more integrated into the department, and therefore experience first-hand what it is like working in environmental public health programs.

In addition to the organizational application process, many schools require that students complete a practicum or capstone proposals. The proposals link activities completed during the practicum or capstone back to the school requirements. Generally these need to be completed by the student and signed by the person supervising the students work.

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