Global Health Practica/Internships Search 101

For the purpose of this page internship will be called practicum.
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Collecting water samples in Kenya. Photo courtesy Christie Pettitt-Schieber.

 

Be sure to complete the Pre-Departure Travel Requirements before traveling internationally.

 

Below you will find information and tips on how to find a global practicum.

The practicum is an individualized, mentored and hands-on learning experience that allows for master’s of public health students to apply what they learn in the classroom in a real world setting. Practicum requirements vary by department, so check with your department’s practicum coordinator before securing an opportunity.

Helpful tips to think about before starting your search:
  • Set practicum goals. Before starting your practicum search, know what you want to get out of the practicum experience. What skills do you want to apply/gain? Where do you want to go? What is your priority for your experience (e.g. location, skills, topic area, mentorship, etc.)? With goals in mind, it will be easier to know where to begin your search and for staff to help guide you to opportunities.
  • “Global” is local. We have some of the best global health organizations at our fingertips in the Triangle area. An international experience is wonderful, but do not rule out completing your practicum in the U.S. One can do the same amount of good working with an international agency and/or population in the U.S., e.g., refugees, Latinos and American Indians. A domestic practicum could be a great option if funding becomes an issue.
  • Start your search early. Communicating with organizations abroad might take longer due to time zones and technology. You may also need to secure a visa and vaccinations for the country you might be working in. If you will be applying for funding, a secured practicum is often required.
  • Show me the money! Many global practicum opportunities come with very little or no funding. Be sure to begin looking for other sources of funding. Start searching for other sources of funding HERE!
  • Obtain IRB approval, if needed. All UNC students participating in research involving human subjects or identifiable data from human subjects must complete IRB CITI Ethics training. You must submit an IRB application and receive approval well in advance of your trip. Visit the website for the UNC Office of Human Research Ethics for more on IRB approval.
Resources for your search:
Check the “no student travel” list that is compiled by the University before making any commitments. Note that any country can be added to the “no student travel” list at any point in time and students must adhere to what the University decides in the event you have already planned your trip/already in-country.
  1. Know your department’s practicum requirements. Talk with your departmental practicum or career services coordinator first!
  2. UNC University Career Services offers resources campus-wide and can be useful in finding a global practicum:
  3. Global Health Solutions provides several resources to help identify practicum opportunities:
    • All internship and funding opportunities we are aware of are advertised in This Week in Global Health, a weekly e-newsletter.
    • Several funded global health internship/fellowship opportunities are open to only UNC Gillings students. They are with local global health organizations (travel to international sites is not guaranteed).
    • There is a listing of other global health internships (found under the Other Internships tab) opportunities that are open to anyone.
    • The searchable funding database (found under the Funding Resources tab) we created includes funding opportunities from UNC and other sources.
    • The Global Health Career and Network Resources webpage includes a list of global health organizations with internship programs and under the Global Alumni Mentors tab are Gillings graduates who work in global health around the globe and are willing to mentor students and help secure internship opportunities when the fit is right.
    • If you are looking to work on a research project with a faculty member at UNC Gillings, there is a searchable database to see where Gillings faculty members work and what their research interests are.
  4. GoAbroad.com is a directory of international internship and international volunteer opportunities.
  5. Embark Carolina is a resource in the university’s effort to open access to global opportunities so that more diverse students can pursue more diverse experiences.
Do your homework:

It is important for students to do their due diligence in researching organizations to make sure of their legitimacy.

  • Read online reviews and testimonials- please note these can be skewed if posted by the organization
  • Ask the organization if you can speak with students who have worked with them in the past
  • Ask your department’s practicum coordinator and/or Naya Villarreal, in the Gillings Global Gateway, if they know of any UNC Gillings students who worked with the organization you are considering.

If your practicum is part of a funded effort, obtain clear documentation from the funder about whether you can obtain a cash advance, how flights are to be booked, what specific costs can be reimbursed (e.g., accommodations, food, immunizations, telephone, transportation, and visa requirements, passes and permits).

Please make sure your overseas preceptor understands his/her role in your practicum experience.

Projects may change and organizations may be under-resourced, so it is important to be flexible, adaptable and culturally competent. Find information to help prepare for your trip HERE.