- Carly Barker
Give three words that sum up your internship experience.
Challenging, Rewarding, Fulfilling
How did you learn about your internship?
“Because Carthage doesn’t offer any public health classes, I reached out to my chemistry professor Dr. Blaine in order to see if she had any suggestions of public health internships that could help me gain experience in the field. She referred me to Career Services for information about the Community Health Internship Placement because a previous Carthage student had participated in the program.”
Describe your internship.
“The primary project I worked on at Public Health Madison and Dane County was the Dane County Private Well Drinking Water Test Pilot, in which I worked as part of a team to collect and analyze water samples from private wells throughout Dane County for nitrate and bacteria levels. One of my primary responsibilities in this project was writing a letter that was sent to residents with private wells educating them of the issues with nitrate and bacteria contamination and encouraging them to participate in the water testing.”
What do you enjoy most about your internship? What are some of the challenges?
“In addition to working in the Environmental Lab at Public Health Madison and Dane County (PHMDC), I had the opportunity to shadow within different community health departments in Madison. One of my favorite opportunities was shadowing at the Well Woman Program, which works to provide screening and necessary treatment for low-income women with breast and cervical cancer. I specifically enjoyed shadowing the bilingual caseworker, who worked specifically with Spanish-speaking women in the community.
The main challenge that I faced in my internship was the amount of time required to work as a team to make decisions regarding how we were going to carry out the project. Because I was only placed at the public health department for eight weeks, it was difficult to schedule routine meetings and carry out the entire project within my internship period and thus the project was not completely finished by the time my internship ended.”
How does your internship fit with your long-term career goals?
“My internship gave me a great introduction to working at a local public health agency, which is one of my potential long-term career goals. I am currently applying for positions in graduate school within public health and this opportunity has provided me with great experience that will help enhance my applications.”
During your internship search, how did you make yourself stand out to employers?
“The main way I made myself stand out on applications was emphasizing the diverse classes I’ve taken at Carthage and detailing the hands-on experience I’ve had throughout my time here. As a science major, I think I’ve had a huge advantage at Carthage because I’ve had so many experiences for independent research that can be difficult to obtain at a larger school and I really think my diverse research helped me stand out on applications.”
What did you find to be the most helpful during your internship search process?
“I think it’s really important to work with professors at Carthage to have them proofread personal statements and other application requirements when applying for internships, jobs, or further education. It’s really important to develop personal relationships with professors because they are then able to write letters of recommendation and provide suggestions for personal statements and essays that can make you stand out, particularly when reviewers are looking at numerous applications.”
Do you have any tips to share with other students about your experience?
“My main tip when searching for internships is to apply for a lot of different positions with the understanding that a lot of internships are very competitive and you won’t receive everything you apply for. With that said, I think Carthage students are prepared to excel in internships because of our diverse education and hands-on experiences.
I also think it’s important for students to know how beneficial it is to receive an internship in the field their interested in before pursuing a long-term career in that field. While I liked my internship and am still interested in pursuing a career in public health, there were different aspects of my internship that presented challenges I wouldn’t have experienced without that firsthand experience in the field. A lot of college students gain experience during internships that shows them that career might not be the right fit for them and are able to alter their career plans before being locked into a full time job.”