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Credit: sborisov / iStock /

Credit: sborisov / iStock /

Thanks to Tiffany for asking me for advice on finding public health-related  internship/volunteer opportunities in Washington, DC! Though the content focuses on public health, the overall approach applies to any professional area.

Washington, D.C. is a wonderful place to live and engage in public health. As the U.S. capitol and a sizable city, many organizations (based in DC and not) offer opportunities in D.C. that are not always available in other parts of the country. Students can work or volunteer for the federal government, foundations, non-government organizations, advocacy groups, consultants, health care businesses (like hospitals or insurance companies), mass media companies (like the Discovery Channel), universities and more! Whew! No wonder Tiffany asked her question!

Tiffany, since I don’t know you personally, it is hard for me to recommend a specific opportunity. Instead, here is some advice on how to get started:

  • One approach is to find websites or other sources that provide lists of possible opportunities. In addition to your school’s career office or resources, a great place to start are the careers/professional development/resources website at of schools of public health or public health programs. These schools help their public health students find these kinds of opportunities every year and some of that information is on public pages. There are also some great databases that have a mix of public health and non-public health ventures.
  • To narrow your search, think about why you want an internship or volunteer opportunity. Do you want more experience with a public health issue or organization for which you already have an interest? Do you want to learn more about a new issue? Do you want to explore a variety of experiences or do you want to starting networking with a specific group? Do you want a skill development opportunity or a general overview of an area of public health? Knowing your purpose will help you identify the right organization and opportunity for you.
  • With some idea of your interests, you can also use your networking skills online and in person. For example, you can use keywords to search for public health professionals in LinkedIn and see how you can connect with them through your network. You can ask your connections about possible opportunities or go to their organization’s website to see what is available.
  • Finally, almost every organization welcomes people who will volunteer their time! Some of them will also create new opportunities for the right student. Don’t be shy about making a (very polite and professional) inquiry. The worst they can do is not respond or say no.

Good luck!!