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Commonly Asked Internship Questions

How do I get an internship? 

“My meeting with the Assistant Director of Research and Occupational Safety was more than pleasant and to my surprise it became an interview for an internship!” -Sandy

Most students get internships in one of three ways:

  • Applying to posted internships on the Student Portal page.
  • Applying to national internships found through independent research, such as on ehscareers.com, indeed.com, Google, or company-specific HR sites.
  • Developing new internship opportunities through networking. For example, students commonly get internships by reaching out directly to organizations they’re interested in or arranging informational interviews.

All students should expect to search for and apply to internships starting in July through the end of the school year. We recommend applying to at least 10 internships.

How do I know if my internship will fulfill my major requirements? 

Internship requirements are available in the Internship Guide on the Student Portal page. To verify if an internship meets major requirements, you can email the position description to Hayley Leventhal, Internship Manager, at hayleyl@uw.edu.

What do I do if I’m having trouble getting an internship?

You can make an appointment with Hayley at your convenience. In the meantime, here are some tips:

  • Write targeted cover letters and adapt your resume for each internship application.
  • Apply to at least 10 internships.
  • Apply early –starting in late summer for the following year- and monitor internship postings regularly.
  • Try to apply within the first three days a new internship is posted.

    “The main lesson I learned from my application process was to apply to everything that you would reasonably be able to do and to get started on your application materials like your resume and cover letters early so as to expedite the application processes. You should not get frustrated if your application process takes longer than expected or you hear way more No’s than Yes’s, as this is part of the process and it will only hurt you to get bogged down by the small details” -Nick

I was offered an internship. Now what?

Congratulations! Take a moment to celebrate your hard work. Here are some steps to get started:

  • If you have not done so already, email the internship description to Hayley to ensure that the internship will meet your degree requirements.
  • If you need time to make a decision, you can ask for a day or two at most to discuss this opportunity with your faculty advisor, Hayley, or your family.
  • Once you’ve accepted an offer, please notify Hayley via email as soon as possible. She will provide you with next steps.

What should I do if I have other interviews or offers?

It’s always a good idea to evaluate each offer independent of other internship opportunities. What caused you to initially apply? What skills or experiences would you gain from this internship? Once you’ve accepted an internship, it’s standard to withdraw other applications and turn down interview requests. Do not accept an internship you do not plan to complete.

To accept an internship only to withdraw later for a different offer would jeopardize your professional reputation, as well as damage the department’s ability to offer internships to future students.

Can I negotiate compensation?

“Figuring out my potential career is an ongoing process. I am very glad I did my internship with Public Health – Seattle & King County. I developed many skills and created relationships with many people who are supportive and see a bright future for me. Now, I leave my internship with more insight into my future career and I gained skills and experiences that will help me launch forward.” -Katie

It is not typical to negotiate compensation for an internship. At some internships, you might be able to negotiate start and end dates or hours. However, you should ask if they’re negotiable and not assume that they are.

Do you have questions about internships?

Post them in the comments!

Alexa: About My Internship with PHSKC

About My Internship with Public Health Seattle King County

By Alexa Y.

This summer I am working as an intern for Public Health Seattle King County in the Environmental Health division. My main task includes mosquito surveillance for West Nile Virus, which entails trapping mosquitos, sorting them by the vectors that carry the disease and then shipping them to the Washington State Department Of Health in Tumwater to be PCR tested. Other tasks include helping the Hazardous Waste Management team with research on a variety of community focused projects and outreach events to best maximize efficiency and target different needs of varying communities in King County. This internship allowed me to meet and learn from so many different people working in the public health world as well as discover where my interests lie and what I am passionate about. I have been able to meet people doing work in equity and social justice and see real applications and projects instead of just hearing about it in class. This gave me perspective on how much work this work is, the impact it has and the pushback it can receive. This internship  encouraged and nudged me to expand outside my comfort zone in terms of networking and asking questions, but I have become a more curious person and student because of it.

Alexa compiling Culex pipiens mosquitos, a vector of West Nile Virus, into a vile containing RNA protecting solution in the Public Health Labs in Shoreline.

Through the search for this internship I’ve learned that starting earlier is better. This was the last internship I applied to, one that opened late, and I was lucky to receive the position. It was a great introduction to what searching for a real job might look like and how to most effectively portray the skills I have. If I were to redo the search, I would try to apply to a few more than I did, and try to use resources earlier such as the Environmental Health student portal.

My advice for students looking for internships is to start earlier than you think you need to, but don’t panic if you do not obtain a position right away!

Colin: My Internship Project

My Internship Project

By Colin V.

This summer I have been an Environmental Health and Safety intern at Seacast, an investment casting foundry in Seattle and Marysville, Washington. My main summer project was to help design and implement a new fume collection system for plasma cutting. When an operator uses a plasma torch to cut metal, combustible metal dust and other fumes are generated. Of primary concern is Hexavalent Chromium, also known as Hex Chrome. Hex chrome is a sub-micron particulate that can have adverse health effects at low levels of exposure. The PEL set by OSHA is just 0.5 µg/m^3 as an 8-hour time-weighted average. Adverse health effects that can arise from hex chrome exposure include eye irritation or damage, skin ulcers, respiratory irritation and asthma, and lung cancer. The operator wears a Powered Air Purifying Respirator (PAPR) that provides a filtered air supply to a welding helmet. Implementing a fume collection system would reduce operator exposure and the potential exposure to other workers.

To collect these fumes, I have helped design a system that would use a wet dust collector to quench and collect flammable metal dust, followed by a HEPA filter bank on the end of the ventilation duct would capture any sub-micron particles that pass through the dust collector. In order to design this unit, I have been working with several Seacast employees: the Corporate EHS Manager, the Seattle operations manager, an aerospace engineer, and the foundry manager. To help visualize the setup of the system, I spent part of a day learning how to use a basic CAD program. This allowed me to create 3D mock-ups of the complete system in different arrangements. Using the CAD program made a huge difference in creating a visualization for others to understand, especially when compared to hand-drawn sketches.

The design process is almost entirely complete. Now we are in the process of submitting a Notice of Construction to Puget Sound Clean Air Agency. With the current backlog of projects awaiting approval, we found out that it could take up to 4 months for our project to be approved. Since I have to return to school, it is unlikely that I will be able to fully implement the dust collection system and conduct air sampling. However, all of my design and process notes up to this point will likely be used by the team to implement the collection system upon approval.

Jenny: About the JRCOSTEP Internship Application

About the JRCOSTEP Internship Application

By Jenny P.

I first heard of JRCOSTEP during the internship prep class when a student who had done it the previous year came in to share her experience. She talked about her work with the Native American communities in Montana, which immediately piqued my interest dueto my own experience working with Native American children in Idaho. Although I frequently checked the internship page on the department site, I did not see an internship I wanted to do as much as JRCOSTEP. I did apply to a couple of other internships. I knew that the JRCOSTEP application process was long, but I was still surprised at how much work it required. There were many instances during the process where I felt like giving up because I did not think I could get my application together in time. The day the application was due was one of the most stressful days of my life. That morning I was at the doctor’s office in my hometown getting my physical exam done. I also had to stop by several banks to find one that could notarize a form for me. After I finally mailed out my completed application, I had to rush to class to take my physics final.

My biggest tip for future students who are interested in JRCOSTEP is to start the application process early. There are many different forms you will need to complete, and they can be really confusing. If you are unsure whether a form is required or not, it probably is. Contact the call center if you have any questions, and also reach out to past students.

Do not let the lengthy application discourage you from applying. JRCOSTEP has been an invaluable experience for me, and I am sure that it will be for you too!

Toan: How I Got My Internship with Holland America

How I Got My Internship with Holland America

By Toan N.

My name is Toan and I will be a fourth-year student in the environmental health major this upcoming Fall quarter. As of right now, I am interning for Holland America Line at the Seattle location. My team consist of four people: the Safety Operation director, Safety Operation Specialists, and the Occupational Health Manager. Most of my work revolves around helping the Safety Managers and the Occupational Health Manager to maintain fleet safety on subjects such as ship mechanics, noise conservation, the supply chain for the ships. I am very excited to learn about the Risk Assessments and LOTO procedures for maritime work. I am most nervous about the corporate work life. I do not yet know about things such as work culture and office politics.

I got my internship by applying to a lot of available internships in Seattle. I heard back from Holland America Line, and they asked me to submit an online video interview. By June I received an email from them that they wanted me to be their team’s intern.

Raymond: About My Internship with Samsung

About My Internship with Samsung

By Raymond L.

For my internship, I worked at Samsung Semiconductor Inc. in San Jose, California. During my internship, I worked with my manager to make sure that the company follows all regulations set by the state and federal government. I will be responsible for managing hazard communication, informing employees of confined spaces, and assisting audits. I am excited about learning how an audit is performed in the work field and increasing my knowledge about OSHA regulations.

On my first day, I was really surprised by the size of the campus, and the number of amenities it offered to employees. There was an arcade room, gym, and a cafeteria. There are a lot of vending machines place around campus for snacks. I did not expect these many amenities in the workplace, but it does promote work life balance lifestyle since the employees can take a break from working.

Raymond gives a presentation on his internship project to employees at Samsung.

I completed an informational interview with my coworker, and he mentioned he had a bachelor’s in chemical engineering. He said he realized how similar the two fields of chemical engineering and environmental health and safety were, so he went to graduate school for environmental health and safety. He said that he got most of his experience through jobs in consulting, and consulting is a good way to gain some good skills for your resume.

I plan to establish and manage the hazardous chemical database for two Samsung sites, and create safety data sheet binders for employees to view. Also, I had to identify areas with confined spaces, so I can label these spaces to warn employees. I facilitated the administration of site emergency guide questionnaires for six Samsung sites, and addressed any questions they may have in the questionnaire.

I found this internship through indeed, and using the Google search engine. I learned that keeping the job description was helpful for interviews because some jobs take down the description when they interview candidates, so referring back to the job description was really helpful for me. I got my internship by catering my resume to the position, and practicing a lot for the interview process. One thing I did not expect was that a lot of employers don’t respond to your application or they take an extremely long time. Some tips I have for people looking for internships would be to keep applying for jobs early on, and go to Hayley’s office to practice for your interview or to review your resume.

My internship impacted others by keeping employees informed of hazards, so that they can make it back home safely. I was able to help Samsung avoid fines from the government because not having a hazard communication in a workplace is an offense. This experience impacted me because I have more experience that I can put down on my resume, and I have a better understanding of what an environmental health specialist does.

Jennifer: Getting Ready for My Internship at LNI

Getting Ready for My Internship at LNI

By Jennifer

For my internship, I get to work as a Safety and Health specialist with the State Department of Labor and Industries (LNI). The department splits up Washington State into 6 regions; amongst the 6 regions, I work in Region 1 which includes Snohomish, Skagit, and Kitsap county. My home office is located in Everett where I get to work with many consultants and compliance officers. Most of my work days include going out into worksites with either a consultant or compliance officer on inspections, assisting with air/noise/spot sampling, compiling information about employer’s accident histories, and more.

Jennifer completes sampling forms during a health inspection of a welding shop.

In addition to learning about the field of worker safety and industrial hygiene hands on, I think that I am also excited to explore and learn more about the different kinds of businesses and how they operate. I will be able to go out onto constructions sites, warehouses, grocery stores, and even doctor offices to learn about how they manage to keep workers safe on the job. I think I will become more knowledgeable in how industries function and therefore become a more well-rounded member of the field. I am also excited to put my communication and people skills to the test. I know that a big part of being a state worker at LNI requires going out and meeting/working with new people every day and so I’m excited to start networking and discovering new strengths and weaknesses in myself. One thing that I am nervous about is whether I will be able to build any kind of relationship with my coworkers. If there is one thing I learned from past jobs is that the people you work with can make or break your experience on the job. However, I am pretty optimistic because I was able to meet some people before my internship starts and everyone was very welcoming and they readily expressed how excited they were to have an intern.

I got my internship when Hayley released an email of an internship opportunity with LNI. I was hesitant at first because the process for applying did not include anything else except an interview. However, I’m glad that I decided to go for it because the two supervisors I interviewed with were very nice and it gave me a chance to practice my interviewing skills (even if I didn’t get the job). I think that taking the internship class (ENV H 480) really helped me feel prepared for the sudden interview because I already had a resume ready and I had all the interviewing skills in the head. If there is one piece of advice I want to give future students, it is to not be afraid to just try. Just apply to that internship you are so certain you won’t get because the reality is that nobody knows for sure.

Hannah: Getting Ready for My Internship with TPCHD

Getting Ready for My Internship with TPCHD

By Hannah H.

This summer, I will be interning at the Tacoma Pierce County Health Department as an Environmental Health Technician. I will work within the Communicable Disease Division as part of their Food and Community Safety program. I am one of three interns who will work there this summer, and together we will work under an Environmental Health Specialist. While most of our work will be done independently in our own designated field areas, we will go through training together and work as a team to ensure all our team’s summer goals are met.

I have two main projects outlined for the summer. My main project is conducting routine and follow-up inspections of water recreational facilities within Pierce County. During these inspections, I follow the rules and guidelines set by the Washington Administrative Code 246-260. This includes such codes for testing water quality and chemical levels, checking that all barriers are the correct height and ensuring all emergency and safety equipment is present and useable. By doing this, we ensure all public pools and spas are safe for public use. If they are not, we can work together to solve any issues and get them up to code. In addition to these inspections, I will also do mosquito trapping for the state health department West Nile Virus surveillance program. I will work with one of the other interns to set and pick up the traps weekly. We then fill out forms with details on the type of trap used and the number of mosquitos caught each week. These mosquitos are then identified and if the correct species, tested for West Nile Virus.

While these are my main projects for the summer, I will also have the opportunity to shadow in other departments and divisions. I am looking forward to this as it gives me an opportunity to explore more of my interests and get a better idea of the variety of work the health department does throughout Pierce County. Additionally, I am excited to make connections with my co-workers and learn more about myself, including my strengths and weaknesses and likes and dislikes within a professional environment. I am confident this internship will be a great learning opportunity and am looking forward to spending the summer with TPCHD!


Angela: How I Got My Internship

How I Got My Internship

By Angela Z.

When I was searching for internships, I relied heavily on the weekly e-mails that contained information on internship, job, and department updates. Hayley sent out an e-mail one week with an invitation to WA Department of Labor & Industries (LNI) information session and interview. At first I was hesitant to sign up due to a conflicting class, but I was able to sign up for the interview without attending the information session. I knew this put me at a bit of a disadvantage against my colleagues, so before my interview I poked around on the LNI website to learn more about the organization. The occupational health and safety classes at the UW had also mentioned LNI so I felt that I had some general background information about the organization as a whole.

During the interview, I was surprised at how conversational it was. I was asked none of the questions that I had prepared for and although I had a shaky answer to, “what do you know about industrial hygiene,” we finished the interview on an open dialogue about worker safety and our personal stories related to the subject. I was able to express how much I learned from and enjoyed the safety classes at UW, which is one side of compliance safety and health.

One piece of advice I have for future students is to sign up for any opportunity that comes up. Especially the employer visits because you have a better chance at getting to know the organization and the staff on a more personal level. This also includes the site visit field trips that are hosted by the department because it is also a good chance to network and inquire about internship opportunities. It is also generally important to keep an open mind and apply for any opportunity that sounds interesting to you!

How I Got My Internship by Brisia P.

How I Got My Internship

By Brisia P.

Unlike most of my classmates, I did not have an internship ready for the summer by
spring quarter, and not for lack of trying. I began applying to internships at the beginning of 2018, hoping to secure an internship between my junior and senior year. I had a few interviews that did not pan out. I stopped applying in Spring 2018 and began again in Autumn. Flash forward, it is April of 2019, I am supposed to be graduating, and still had no idea where I would be in Summer. It was not until June 5th that I was finally offered an internship.
For me, managing the job search was difficult, it was discouraging and made me believe that no one wanted me. I exhausted all my resources, receiving 15 emails a day from 5 different job sites, including Indeed, Glassdoor, Neuvoo, Careerbuilder, etc. The internship I decided to take, I found on Portal (DEOHS website). The entire search was less than ideal and not nearly what I expected.
However, in my struggle to find an internship, I gained a lot of experience: I am less afraid of
first interviews, I can write a cover letter in a timely manner, I can tailor my resume as needed,
and I appreciate my internship opportunity more.
To future students, my internship search was not the common experience shared by most students. Many will find an internship they enjoy and not have to worry. However, for the
few unlucky souls, like me, this can be extremely stressful and scary. I urge you to start early
and continue to apply even if it seems nothing is working. Another tip is to seek help, let people
know you are looking for an internship, and cold email people in a place you would like to work. Also, look to Hayley and Tania for assistance, they are there for a reason. Ultimately, for me, things worked out really well, but Brisia from three months ago wouldn’t have thought so. Getting an internship, like most anything in life, is not easy and requires a lot of hard work and dedication.

Justine’s NEPHIP Internship

Justine’s NEPHIP Internship

By Justine M.

This summer I have been interning with the environmental health team at the Transylvania Public Health department in Brevard, NC.

My work there was diverse and fulfilling, ranging from helping create public education materials and programs, to helping manage a transition towards a new environmental monitoring IT program. Being in a community like Brevard allowed me to explore a wide range of environmental and public health programs. In addition to working with the Environmental Health team, I had the opportunity to shadow the epidemiology and disaster preparedness teams. It was insightful to see firsthand how all these departments interact and work together to promote public health. Although our coursework in DEOHS definitely emphasizes the different branches that contribute to and build-off of environmental health, it was eye-opening to see them all in one building, tackling health issues within the community.

DEOHS student and Transylvania Public Health intern Justine, doing vector-borne illness education and public outreach at a community festival.

One of the most rewarding parts of this program was being able to work in a location where the most pertinent environmental health issues weren’t necessarily always the same as on the west coast. With a different environment come different environmental health hazards.

Some of my favorite experiences included getting fitted for N95 masks, going to county events where our team interacted with community members, shadowing establishment inspections,  and learning about and identifying mosquito species in the laboratory.

In my eyes, the most important part of this internship program is the relationships you establish with the communities you represent, the team members you work with, and the mentors you shadow.