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What Are the Best Internships in Public Health?

There are few fields where interns can make as much of an impact through nonprofit work as they can in public health. Public health internships offer talented young students the chance to substantiate their education with experience while making a tangible difference in people’s lives.

It won’t be easy. You’ll experience the chaos and drama of frontline medical work in a nonprofit context. Still, the best public health internships are as rewarding as they are challenging. You’ll help people when they are most in need, and your work could help save lives. All the while, you’ll gain valuable, unique experience and learn a wealth of new skills.

If you’re interested in finding internships for public health majors or unqualified positions in public health, you’re in the right place. Here, at Roots, we partner with a number of nonprofit organizations focused on public health and medical work. Regardless of your level of education or experience, if you have a passion for public health, we likely have an internship that might interest you.

In this article, you’ll find our best internships in public health for 2024, along with some of our top tips for finding internships for public health majors.


Travel to the Peruvian Amazon and gain experience at a local health center. This is one of the best internships for public health majors looking to learn new skills while contributing to a meaningful cause.

With this program, you’ll meet the chaotic demands of healthcare provision in a rural, underdeveloped area while working at a healthcare center in Puerto Inca, a remote province on the outskirts of the Peruvian Amazon. This is a highly versatile program, allowing you to specialize in a range of departments depending on your prior experience and qualifications. You could focus your time on general medicine, obstetrics, nursing, psychology, odontology, pharmaceuticals, or lab work.

a medical intern reading in a computer


Contribute remotely to a small team driving societal and cultural shifts around mental health in Brazil.

This is one of our remote internships for public health majors. It connects you with a nonprofit organization in Sao Paulo that aims to transform mental health care through awareness, advocacy, and research-backed support systems. As an intern, you’ll contribute to a national survey analyzing mental health perceptions across the country. You’ll engage in report writing, literature reviews, and potentially creating educational materials for advocacy initiatives.


Assist in developing a grassroots initiative for clean water and sanitation in a remote Amazonian settlement, Shandia. This organization drives a Water Sanitation and Hygiene (WASH) program, providing filtration system installation, parasite treatment, and educational efforts for local communities.

Your internship would involve shaping the WASH program’s role, education methods, and problem-solving for the community’s needs. This opportunity is perfect for those interested in learning about public health and project management, while contributing to an important cause.


Join a nonprofit working to diversify clinical trials and expand clinical research capabilities throughout the African continent. They conduct research on a range of public health issues such as vaccine effectiveness, vaccine hesitancy, and adolescent HIV treatment.

As an intern, you’ll contribute by crafting accessible content from scientific research to be distributed across Zimbabwe, amplifying the organization’s impact. You’ll engage in blog writing, website development, social media management, and public relations to elevate visibility. One of the best public health internships for communication-savvy individuals passionate about medicine and eager to make a difference in a dynamic internship role.

washing the hands


Experience a unique HIV support internship in rural Africa, facilitating group sessions for HIV-positive individuals. Contribute to the delivery and development of this nonprofit initiative, assessing its impact on the community. Gain valuable health education and support experience in a developing country while making a significant local impact. This challenging yet rewarding opportunity offers hands-on learning and a chance to create positive change.

7 Tips for Finding Public Health Internships

Define Your Goals

Before you start your search, clarify what you hope to achieve from the internship. Are you looking to gain experience in a specific area of public health, develop certain skills, or expand your network? Having clear goals will help you target the right opportunities.

Start Planning Early

The best internships for public health majors tend to be competitive and many have application deadlines several months before the start date. So, start your search well in advance.

This will give you time to properly consider which internship you go for, and to tailor your application materials to each specific opportunity. It will also give you time to sort out all the logistics of travel like visas, vaccinations, insurance, and so forth.

Research Thoroughly

First of all, research the organization you want to join. You want to look for various public health organizations, both locally and globally, and find the ones aligned with your interests and goals. Check if they have a track record of fruitful internships for public health majors.

This will obviously help hugely when it comes to picking which internship to apply for. It will also improve the rest of the experience too. It will help you pack and prepare for your trip. Finally, it will help you to quickly and smoothly integrate into the organization when the internship starts.

Another thing you’ll want to read up on is the destination of your internship. Check if the area you’ll stay in is safe, and if there are local customs and traditions you should know about. Find out about things like the cost of living and climate as well.

an intern typing in her laptop

Customize Your Application

This one’s obvious, but make sure you tailor your application materials for each internship you apply to. Highlight relevant coursework, projects, and experiences that align with the organization’s mission and requirements. A personalized resume and cover letter demonstrate your genuine interest and dedication, increasing your chances of standing out among other applicants.

Cultivate Resilience

Public health work can be difficult even in the best of circumstances, especially in a patient-facing role. The best public health internships are in countries where public health is a pressing issue. This means your work as an intern will be demanding, stressful, and emotionally taxing. You will likely have to deal with high-pressure, life-or-death situations on a regular basis.

Developing coping strategies for the pressure you’ll be under can be just as important as any other kind of preparation. Everyone has their own kind of self-care so find what works for you. It could be mindfulness, journaling, or talking to a mentor or counselor.

Another tip, we’ll offer is to communicate the difficulties you’re experiencing with your supervisor or someone at your host organization. Many interns think this will negatively impact their supervisors’ views of them. This is nonsense. The best internships in public health will have robust support systems in place. Make the most of them.

Consider Remote Opportunities

The best internships for public health majors tend to be fairly oversubscribed and competitive. However, the rise of remote work has expanded the pool of available internships. It may seem that interning remotely would limit the opportunities you experience, but there are a host of remote opportunities that shouldn’t be overlooked.

Remote internships are especially useful if you’re not able to relocate, but that’s not the only thing they’re good for. They’re also a lot more flexible, so you can fit them around the other commitments in your life. The only drawback is that you don’t get to travel to exciting locations.

Check for Paid Opportunities

Now, paid internships in the nonprofit sector aren’t often available. In most cases, any funds a nonprofit has will go towards the organization’s beneficiaries. Paid public health internships are a bit more common, though they are still rare. Nonetheless, it’s worth a look. While most internships are unpaid, you may be able to find opportunities that offer stipends, transportation reimbursement, or other compensation to cover your expenses.

a medical intern in her scrubs typing on her keyboard

How to Get Involved in Public Health

Participating in the best internships in public health can pave the way for a bright future in any branch of medicine. The experiences gained from the best public health internships will transcend traditional classroom learning. You’ll witness the real-world intricacies of the field and gain a deeper understanding of the unique challenges of providing health care in developing countries. Not only will you gain skills, insights, and hands-on experience, but it’ll look really impressive on your CV too.

laboratory technicial holding a medicine sample

So, if you’re wondering, ‘how do public health internships help my future?’, here’s your answer. Now, if you’re interested in finding the best internships for public health majors in 2024, then be sure to have a look through the programs Roots has available.

Browse the Public Health Internships currently available with Roots

This blog was written by Tom Rusbridge