Features Public Health Students

Preparing for what’s out there

Erin Green is spending 10 weeks in Washington, D.C., interning with the ASPPH as a data center intern.

Apprenticeships, the original internship, have been around since the 11th century.

Eager learners would often live with a master craftsman, serving the master for most of their young adult life. At the end of the arrangement, they would ideally be admitted into a guild as a journeyman, serving the craft for the rest of their life.

For Erin Green, the modern internship thankfully looks much different. Erin is spending 10 weeks, not years, in Washington, D.C., interning with the Association of Schools and Programs of Public Health (ASPPH) as a data center intern.

Instead of committing the rest of her life to one role, Erin is gaining valuable work experience for future career moves.

Pushing her comfort zone

Erin applied for the ASPPH internship because she thought it would help her step out of her comfort zone. “I grew up in Salem, Oregon, and went to college in Corvallis, so I jumped at the chance to complete my required internship out-of-state and to work with a nonprofit such as ASPPH,” Erin says.

She also saw the internship as an opportunity to diversify her experience. “Gaining experience in nonprofit work has been a goal of mine since I declared public health as my primary major.”

Erin is developing a membership database and building an interactive dashboard for the ASPPH data center portal.

“I have learned extensively about relational databases, data visualization and higher education accreditation,” Erin says. “The knowledge and skills I have gained here will directly apply to any work I do in the future related to health information technology and health informatics.”

More than a required internship

Even though internships are required for CPHHS students, public health undergraduate internship coordinator Karen Elliot helps students pick local, national or international locations that align with their passions and interests.

“When discussing different internship options with students in my pre-internship class, I make sure the sites they consider align with their future goals and provide them with additional skills, knowledge and relevant experience to help them be successful with their next endeavors,” Karen says.

She says higher education needs to help prepare students to be successful young professionals and that internships help achieve this important goal.

“I am so grateful for our internship site partners; they really give students in-depth projects and experiences to ensure they will excel in the workforce after graduation,” Karen says.

This summer, 81 CPHHS students are getting valuable experience interning at locations around the world — including India, Ecuador, South Africa, Uganda and Ghana.

Stacking her resume

Beyond interning in D.C., Erin proactively sought the experiences she wanted while attending Oregon State.

She will graduate this September with a degree in public health – health management and policy (HMP) – from the CPHHS and a degree in policy and business innovation, with minors in economics and entrepreneurship from the College of Business (COB).

“Erin was selected for the accelerated graduate program in HMP,” says HMP program director Karen Volmar. “She is the kind of student this program was created for — particularly focused and high achieving students with the maturity and ability to succeed at graduate-level work while still an undergraduate.”

Erin has been a CPHHS peer advisor for two years and participated in the Undergraduate Research Awards Program. She also recently received the COB’s outstanding student in strategy and entrepreneurship award.

Shaping her future in public health and business

To mirror her undergraduate degrees, Erin plans to pursue a dual Master of Public Health and Master of Business Administration program.

“I believe that business and public health are entirely complementary degrees,” Erin says. “My public health curriculum has given me insight into quality maximization and patient satisfaction; whereas my business classes have taught me frameworks and strategies to improve cost-effectiveness and efficiency. These skills and perspectives are all varied, but relevant to the health care sector.”

Erin has very specific objectives for her future and, if her path so far is any indication, she is well on her way to achieving her goals. “I would love to work as a health care consultant after graduate school and eventually transition into a career as a nonprofit hospital administrator in an operations or strategic management role.”