How To Land A Public Health Internship

Public Health is an incredibly competitive field. There are a ton of graduates with a Master of Public Health all vying for the limited jobs out there. The problem is, most jobs want experience, and how are you supposed to get experience if you need experience to get it?


  1. Why do an internship?

Often, if you want to work somewhere, the best way in is to do an internship (unfortunately, in public health these are usually unpaid). Once you’re there, you’ll make yourself known, do a smashing job, blow them away with your skills, and they’ll have you in mind next time there’s a job opening.


  1. Internships are competitive

Getting an internship, even if it’s unpaid, isn’t easy. Many internship programmes are extremely competitive.


  1. Apply as soon as possible

Many organisations want current or recent students only, so it’s best to start your applications as early as possible in your studies.


  1. Start sending out emails

Find the places you want to intern for (make sure you check out the list of UN internships available) and keep note of their application dates. Some places have official applications once a year, and some take interns on a rolling basis. Regardless of their application process, it is worth sending an email with your resume attached saying you’re interested and enquiring about their internship programme.


  1. Be creative

Even if there is an official application process, it’s still worth trying to get in contact with people who work at the organisation and asking. For example, the World Health Organization (WHO) has an official intern application process and receives thousands of applications. If a staff member needs an intern, they can sort through the huge pile of applications, or they can find an intern through their own means (usually through their contacts), and many staff do the later.


  1. Use your contacts

Ask your peers, lecturers, family and friends if they know anyone who works for the organisation or has interned there before. You never know who may be able to give you some handy tips or recommend you for an internship!


  1. Do your research

Scour Google for any information about your desired internship. You may discover blog posts about previous interns’ experiences (if an email address is available don’t be afraid to contact them with queries), or even intern organisation webpages (check out the WHO Interns site).


  1. Find those email addresses

Your best bet for getting an internship is emailing around staff asking if they are looking for an intern sometime in the next 12 months. Your best bet is to find a staff member in a department you are interested in working in and try to find their email address. However, finding staff emails takes a little bit of creative Googling. For example, look for journal articles they have published. Often an author’s email address will be available on the article for correspondence. If desperate, you could always try and guess their email address. For example, at the WHO, it will usually be


  1. Persevere

Whatever organisation you are emailing, email earlier rather than later, and include the dates you are available. Chances are many people you email won’t reply, but don’t let that put you off. Keep trying, and the worst thing that could happen is you won’t get a response or someone will say no. Plus it usually takes a fair bit of coordination and luck to line up when you’re free with when an organisation is looking for an intern.

Finally, don’t give up! It may take many applications to the same place to score an internship, so keep trying!