Global Health Practica/Internships Search 101
For the purpose of this page internship will be called 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.
- 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.
- Know your department or concentration’s practicum requirements. Talk with your practicum manager or career services coordinator first!
- UNC University Career Services offers resources campus-wide and can be useful in finding a global practicum:
- Use your networks. Reach out to networks from Gillings, your undergraduate institution, previous employers, peers, etc.
- Use LinkedIn to find alumni of Gillings or your undergraduate institution. Once you have a list of alumni or affiliated individuals, search for keywords (e.g. global health). Send LinkedIn messages or emails to establish informational interviews.
- Search the Gillings alumni directory or your undergraduate institution’s alumni directory for other potential contacts and practicum organizations. Send an email to set up an informational interview or to inquire about practicum opportunities.
- Did you have a guest lecturer in one of your classes with ties to a potential practicum organization? Get in contact with that guest lecturer and politely ask them if they know of any potential practicum opportunities.
- Gillings MPH Practicum – Current opportunities database
- Research, Innovation and Global 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 previous global health internships opportunities.
- The is a list of 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.
- 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.
- GoAbroad.com is a directory of international internship and international volunteer opportunities.
- 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.
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 or concentration’s practicum manager and/or Naya Villarreal (Research, Innovation and Global Solutions), 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.