Below is a handy table of all the undergraduate majors in the School of Public Health. It is color-coded based on full-time, part-time, or optional internship requirements*. For many of these majors, there will be a required internship of some sort standing between you and adult responsibility. (Note: Click image to expand)*
*The requirements were filled out to the best of my judgment based on the tabulated sheets on SPH’s website. This is not intended to be a stand-alone guide and you should always reference your major’s graduation requirements!
The pie chart that I have included more easily illustrates the fact that 80% of School of Public Health majors require some sort of internship to graduate. First of all, that’s pretty impressive, and secondly, I’d be interested to see the requirements in other schools across IU. Once you come to grips with the fact that you will be expected to do post-graduation work before actually graduating, you can begin the process of preparing for this experience.
Don’t have a whole lot of advice for you here; I wasn’t in the School of Public Health my freshman year. I jest, I jest. If you don’t know what a resume looks like or you’re panicking because you don’t know what to do with your life, it is ok. I promise. Senior advice: learn how to use the buses, get a part-time job on or close to campus (key word being part-time), talk to any and everyone, regardless of whether they turn out to be your best-friend-for-life or just someone passing through, get creative with your meal points, and embrace awkward. And go to class, definitely go to class.
This is where the fun begins; if you’re in the Recreation, Parks, and Tourism Services Department (RPTS) like I am, you start hearing rumors of the ominous 320 around this time. The 320 hours of field experience is a requirement of all RPTS students that is to be completed before you apply to your internship. While I said it was ok to go on your merry way freshman year, I would say at this point you need to be doing something. The great thing about the 320 is that it can be completed in a variety of ways. If you got a part-time job like I suggested freshman year (or even sophomore year), you might be able to count that towards the 320 depending on your major and the setting. Random volunteer activities might also count, so get yourself out there! There are some other stipulations that can cause you grief if you aren’t paying attention to them, so read this sheet (http://www.publichealth.indiana.edu/docs/departments/320hour.pdf) over until you two become old friends, and find activities sophomore year that can chip away at this. It will make life so much easier later and also forces you to meet new people.
This can begin at any time – I probably started around the middle/end of my sophomore year – but as one of my classmates advised, start being more deliberate about choosing volunteer and work experiences that will give you valuable intern skills. As you rack up these hours (document EVERYTHING), you’re getting relevant experience towards the internship you will eventually decide on, and that is highly valuable to those reviewing intern applications. Start a resume if you haven’t already – even if it’s just a list of when, where, with who, and what, you’re documenting everything anyways, so why not organize it a bit?
While this is seen as advice on nearly every “how to college” list, getting to know your professors (especially when they end up being your internship coordinator) is also fairly (read: very) important. Even if you aren’t the student who goes into office hours every week, you can make yourself known by asking questions during class, participating and offering ideas, making an effort to talk to your peers (when appropriate), and going to the professor as needed. All of that is actually networking, and it’s a skill you can start freshman year (talking to every and anyone, remember?) and perfect as you practice. You’ll be able to use all of these connections to your advantage, and it can give you opportunities; the summer after my sophomore year I took a class (not for credit so it’d count towards my 320 hours) in Bloomington where I taught balance activities to older adults to lower their fall risk. If I hadn’t already signed myself up for a pre-OT email list, I wouldn’t have known about the class. If I wouldn’t have mentioned I was interested in it to my advisor during an unrelated walk-in appointment, I wouldn’t have gotten to meet one of the teachers who told me more about what the class entailed and then helped me sign up for one of the most applicable volunteer experiences I’ve had in college. This type of thing happens all the time when you’re networking.
The summer after junior year, everything suddenly starts moving faster. I started looking for internships through specific recreation therapy websites, and then also by googling recreation therapy jobs in general. I also finished up my 320 hours early in the summer and avoided the headache of trying to crunch them in the fall of my senior year. One piece of advice I, as well as several of my classmates, would give is to start saving early. 95% of RT internships offer neither pay nor housing, so if you’re wanting to go somewhere new you better have some funds available, whether it’s your own or generous help from someone else. I researched my internship interests over the summer and sent out emails just to introduce myself and inquire about their programs, which made it easy to reach out again this fall and let them know I was interested in applying to be an intern. Some things to also consider…
- Know your housing plan before you apply – if you need to rent an apartment, or if you can stay with family/friends, or if the agency can provide housing
- Insurance – maybe this is only RT related, but I had to buy insurance for myself in the case of malpractice. Luckily, the provider was already set up and I just had to register and pay.
- You might have to join a professional association – technically, it wasn’t required of me to join the American Therapeutic Recreation Association, but I’m going to have to anyways, and it’s significantly cheaper to join as a student rather than a graduate.
- Research – learn as much as you can about the places you’re applying to and ask questions. It’s important to have an idea of what you’ll be getting for your money (you’ll still be paying tuition even if you have a full-time internship).
- Apply and conquer – know your deadlines, if there are any, and get your materials together. If you have an internship coordinator, they might send out your application on your behalf, but make sure to follow up and confirm your application was received.
- You will most likely have an interview – this is something you should also know in advance. There are entire books on interview skills and procedures, so while there isn’t space to do this justice here, know that SPH has resources on their website, and your professors are usually willing to help you as well!
If this sounds like a lot, it’s because it is. While the process can be exciting, it can also be stressful and tedious, but coming from someone who just sent out their internship applications this week I can tell you the key throughout this whole roller-coaster ride is persistence and openness. You never know when an opportunity will come your way, so keep your eyes, ears, and mind open to everything you experience.
Elizabeth Terry is a senior from Yorktown, IN currently completing her bachelor’s degree in Recreation Therapy. While her height hasn’t changed since she was 15, calling Bloomington “home” for the past four years has allowed her to grow in every other aspect of her life. She’s a sarcastic optimist nearly at the end of her undergrad rope that wants to make an impact in people’s lives, but also allow them to impact her.
IUSPH Career Services
Job opportunities for Indiana University School of Public Health-Bloomington majors are diverse and expanding as the emphasis on living a healthy lifestyle grows around the world. Career Services experts in each of our academic departments will provide one-on-one counseling and career building opportunities throughout your academic career, from choosing the right major to developing a strategy to find a job. They can assist you with:
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