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Health Policy & Planning Internships


Health Policy & Planning Internships

Internship Overview

The Health Policy & Planning (HPP) Internship Program is designed to provide work opportunities and practical learning experiences in public health, policy, planning, and research, with an emphasis in health equity and place-based primary prevention. 

HPP Framework: Primary Prevention & Health Equity

There is a growing recognition that where we live, work, play and go to school shape our health. HPP focuses on building healthy, equitable communities that prevent people from getting sick in the first place. HPP works to ensure all people have the opportunity for health and well-being and seeks to build health equity by addressing the root causes of poor health, such as the social, economic, and physical conditions around us. To achieve this goal, HPP employs expertise in policy, planning, research, equity, communications, and advocacy. HPP has a particular focus on supporting populations with higher rates of preventable health issues and in places with the fewest opportunities for health. HPP is currently focused on four areas of work: 1) Stable and affordable housing: protects health and provides the ability to engage in healthy opportunities, 2) Complete neighborhoods: make it easy for residents to be healthy every day in their own communities, 3) High-quality education: creates pathways to better health, and 4) Strong local economy: builds household financial security for all.

Focus of Internship Projects

San Mateo County Health is seeking three (3) graduate-level (master’s level program) student interns to join the HPP team, a program within the Public Health, Policy and Planning Division. Below are the projects we are recruiting interns to work January through May 2019.

Communications Intern

The focus of the Communications Intern will be to assist Health System staff in researching and developing strategies to improve and enhance communication of health to further advance health equity in San Mateo County. Specifically, the intern will analyze communications insights, synthesize best practices and propose solutions to improve communications quality and increase reach.  More specifically, the intern will work on any or all of the following tasks:

  • Track and examine communications analytics results and make recommendations based on results and best practices 
  • Develop systems and templates to collect social media, newsletter and webpage analytics
  • Using health equity lens, support the development of engaging communication material
  • Copy and editing of communication materials (social media, monthly newsletters, case studies)
  • Identify creative methods to improve the quality of existing communications and for increasing audience across all communication channels
Healthy Economy Intern

The focus of the internship project will be to assist Health System staff in a) researching and implementing anchor strategies to maximize institutional resources’ ability to address economic determinants of health; b) exploring the health impacts of fees and fines on vulnerable residents. More specifically, the intern will work on the following tasks:

  • Support implementation of inclusive hiring pilot project
  • Assist staff in identifying opportunities to implement inclusive procurement policies: surveying County procurement policies, map existing assets and programs, and research model interventions
  • Conduct research, map key stakeholders, examine best practices and develop internal documents and communication materials to help staff better understand how fees and fines impact the financial security and health of vulnerable residents
Healthy Neighborhoods Intern

The focus of the Healthy Neighborhoods Intern will be to assist SMC Health staff in researching and developing a Healthy and Equitable Development policy toolkit. The purpose of the toolkit would be to provide guidance on how policies such as parking management and infill development affect our communities. More specifically, the intern will work on any/all of the following:

  • Design an outreach process to assess needs and gather ideas from potential users of the toolkit (elected officials, city staff and/or community stakeholders)
  • Examine model practices of healthy and equitable toolkits
  • Refine existing HPP internal healthy and equitable toolkit

Important Internship Program Dates

Fall 2018
  • Recruitment closed
Winter_Spring 2019 (January – May 2019)
  • Recruitment Opens: Friday, September 14, 2018
  • Application Packet Deadline: Friday, October 12, 2018 at noon
  • Interviews: October 29 – November 2, 2018
  • Selections: November 13, 2018
  • Internship: Starts January 7, ends May 31  (flexible)

Internship Eligibility

  • Current graduate level students in a master’s program OR recent graduates (within one year) from a master’s program are eligible to apply. You may not be a current San Mateo County employee.
  • Successful applicants will possess a deep passion for addressing health inequities and experience working to change them. Relevant experience may include:
    • Personal or family experience dealing with inequitable economic, social, health and educational systems and environments. For instance: being the first in your family to attend higher education, growing up in a low-income neighborhood, experiencing housing/financial instability, or facing racial/ethnic or other types of discrimination.
    • Professional experience in a program that promotes equity (this can be through a multitude of intervention types and variety of locations or organizations

Internship Term & Pay

This HPP Internship program runs year round. The Winter/Spring Internship cycle runs from January to May 2019, and the intern must commit to working between 16-20 hours per week. Reasonable timeframe adjustments can be negotiated. Current graduate students are paid between $24.00 – $32.00 per hour depending on experience.

How to Apply

Complete and submit an application packet to with the following required attachments: 

  1. Cover Letter: Please describe your interest in and qualifications for this internship in the cover letter including position you are applying for.
  2. Resume
  3. Completed application and supplemental questionnaire (see application packets listed below)

Winter/Spring 2019 Application Packets:

  1. Communications Intern application
  2. Healthy Economy Intern application
  3. Healthy Neighborhoods Intern application

The application deadline for the winter/spring 2019 internship cycle is October 12, 2018, at 12:00 p.m. PST.

Only completed applications will be reviewed; please contact us if you do not receive a confirmation we received your application within 2-3 business days. If selected, you will be invited for an interview. In-person interviews are strongly preferred, but telephone interviews can be arranged if needed.