Contact Us

Division of Health & Exercise Science

Jenna Otto

Administrative Program Assistant

Phone: (503) 838-8908

Email: ottoj@wou.edu

Are you ready for the internship?

If you answer NO to any of the following questions, you’re probably not ready to start the exercise science internship and should see your academic advisor or speak with the division internship coordinator.

Will you have completed all of the required courses by the term you want to do the internship?

  • YES Keep reading.
  • NO See your advisor and set up a plan for completion.

Have you identified your career goals and interest beyond graduation?

Do you have an idea of potential places where you want to intern?

  • YES Make an appointment with the internship coordinator TWO terms in advance to the term you want to intern.
  • NO Time to Google! For example, if you think you might want to be an athletics coach, Google something like “athletic coach near me” and see what organizations come up.

Internship Overview

Introduction

The information contained in this packet is designed to help maximize your internship experience in community health. This experience is intended to be a partnership between you, your internship site, and the Division of Health and Exercise Science at Western Oregon University.

Through participation in an internship, you learn to apply academic learning in a professional setting, perform work related to your career interests, receive supervision and training, and assess the possibilities of permanent employment. The internship experience provides an opportunity to bridge the gap between theory and practice and offer opportunities to be employed in entry level positions or to gain experience to enhance your admittance to graduate school.

In select circumstances, you may receive some financial compensation for internship work. However, reimbursement agreements must be directly between you and your internship site. Our division is not in a position to negotiate payment for you.

Outcomes

Western Oregon University students have the potential to leave our institution competent and capable of beginning a fulfilling and successful career in Community Health, Health Promotion, or Health Education. After completing the internship, we expect you’ll be able to:

  • Plan effective strategies, interventions and programs based on assessment of individual and community needs.
  • Implement and evaluate strategies, interventions, and health education programs.
  • Coordinate, communicate, and advocate for research-based health practice and serve as a health education resource person.

Benefits

The internship program allows you to demonstrate that you are capable of applying academic competencies in a professional setting. Specifically, the internship will provide the opportunity to:

  • Gain an understanding and appreciation of the roles, duties, and the responsibilities of full-time professionals in community health, health promotion and health education.
  • Expose you to the work of professional organizations and agencies.
  • Encourage participation in activities on the local, state, and national levels.
  • Expose you to leadership opportunities.
  • Enable you to observe and participate in the planning, implementation and evaluation of programs within various health-related agencies and organizations.
  • Establish professional contacts and references.

Internship Criteria

For an internship to be approved, the internship site and internship learning objectives must:

  • Be community-based. In other words, the organization should be local and focused on working with individuals and groups in the same community where they’re located.
  • Have someone who is trained in community health, health promotion, health education, and public health.
  • Be related to community health (with a promotion / prevention focus).
  • Result in a tangible product.
  • Incorporate community health methods, such as:
    • Health education (e.g. presentations, conferences, classes, etc.)
    • Health communication
    • Planning
    • Epidemiology
    • Policy / advocacy
    • Social marketing
    • Grant symbols
    • Community mobilization / empowerment
    • Coalition building
    • Health counseling, screenings, behavior modification
    • Evaluation

Before Your Internship

The following items should be completed before you start your internship.

Complete required community health courses

The required courses are:

  • HE 227: Intro to Community and Public Health
  • HE285: Foundations of Health Education
  • HE375: Epidemiology
  • HE448: Research Methods
  • HE471: Program Planning
  • HE 487: Assessment & Program Evaluation

Meet with the division internship coordinator

The division internship coordinator is Janet Roberts. Janet can help you find and approve internships. You should contact Janet at least two terms before registering for HE 498 (the community health internship course).

Attend the first mandatory internship meeting

An initial internship meeting is held each term during the week of registration. You should plan on attending the meeting the term prior to the term of your internship. In most cases, you should know where you will be doing your internship before the meeting. Registration overrides to register for HE 498 will be submitted at this meeting.

If your internship is in… You should attend the meeting in…
Fall term May
Winter term November
Spring term February
Summer term May

Check your WOU email regularly for the specific date, time, and location of the meeting.

Complete required forms

The forms below must be completed and turned in to the division internship coordinator before you can start your internship. After clicking on the links, you’ll be prompted to make a copy of the google doc so you can start to fill it in.

NOTE: All internship sites need a university affiliation agreement. The internship coordinator will complete this form but for sites without an existing affiliation agreement in place, this may be a time-consuming process so please communicate with the internship coordinator as early as possible.

Objective Tips and Examples

Tips for Writing Objectives

A well-formulated objective:

  • Specifies a single key result to be accomplished.
  • Specifies a target date or timeframe for its accomplishment.
  • Is readily understandable by those who will be contributing to its attainment.
  • Is realistic and attainable, but still represents a significant change.
  • Is consistent with the resources available or anticipated.
  • Is consistent with organizational policies and practices.
Example Objectives
  • Develop a news release by the end of the month.
  • Design and implement three health education interventions for the target population by the end of the year.
  • Attend four board meetings this fall.

Attend the second mandatory internship meeting

This is when you’ll turn in your required forms and go over remaining internship instructions. The second mandatory internship meeting will be held the first week of classes. Check your WOU email regularly for meeting information, date, time, and location.

During Your Internship

The following list should be completed during your internship. This is not a comprehensive list – more information about requirements will be available in the internship class.

Keep a detailed daily log of your internship experience

The daily log should reflect what you’ve learned and experienced at the site and how this relates to your coursework and career goals. You’ll submit the daily log online as part of the HE 498 course weekly or every other week. Open the Daily Log (Google Sheet). You will be prompted to make a copy of the sheet.

You need to spend at least 240 hours at the internship site over the course of the term.

Work on your tangible product(s)

The tangible product(s) are a unique contribution to your internship site or to an existing site program. The product or project should be left with the site and a copy submitted with your final internship materials.

Examples of tangible products include:

  • Development and possible implementation of a curriculum
  • Development and possible implementation of a survey tool
  • Development of a focus group moderator guide or participation as a focus group moderator
  • Design health-related educational materials (i.e. brochure, bulletin board, presentation, PSA, newsletter, news release, etc)
  • Evaluation and assessment of a program plan
  • Coordinate a health fair or outreach event
  • Participate in health screenings or testing
  • Advocate for public policy

Last Week of Your Internship

The following list should be completed when you are close to finishing your internship. This is not a comprehensive list – more information about requirements will be available in the internship class.

Send thank you letter

Send a thank you letter to the site supervisor at the end of your internship or shortly following completion.

Complete performance evaluation

Both you and your site supervisor will complete an evaluation of your performance in the internship. Separate links will be emailed to you and your site supervisor starting week 8 of the term (week 5 for summer term). The professional skills and community health competencies you’ll be evaluated on are below. Completion of this survey is part of your internship grade.

General Professional Skills

  • Display appropriate level of confidence in professional abilities.
  • Ability to effectively communicate orally.
  • Ability to effectively communicate in writing.
  • Ability to effectively utilize and apply knowledge.
  • Ability to analyze problems and effectively problem solve.
  • Ability to develop a professional network (within the agency / community).
  • Ability to meet deadlines.
  • Ability to work beyond minimum expectations.
  • Ability to accept feedback.
  • Ability to maintain appropriate professional appearance and attitude.
  • Ability to interact appropriately with all audiences (clients / colleagues).
  • Displayed an interest in the operations of the agency.

Community Health Competencies

  • Access valid health-related data and resources.
  • Use theory-based and/or evidence-based research results in program planning.
  • Gather qualitative and quantitative health data.
  • Analyze needs assessment data.
  • Develop goals and create measurable objectives for health programs.
  • Implement intervention strategies to facilitate health-related change.
  • Develop a comprehensive program evaluation plan.
  • Use educational technology effectively.
  • Use oral, electronic, and written techniques to communicate effectively with diverse audiences.
  • Establish professional and community relationships for collaborative efforts to influence health issues.
  • Influence local, school, state, and/or national policy to promote health.

Complete a reflection on your internship experience

The reflection on your internship experience should be approximately 5 pages (double-spaced).

Reflection Outline

Use the following outline when writing your reflection.

  1. Overview: Provide an overview of what you did during your internship. Include information about your internship site, including the site’s mission, how the site contributes to health in the community, and the extent to which the organization is working to achieve that mission.
  2. Objectives: List your personal internship objectives and your internship site objectives (from the internship objectives form you completed before starting your internship). Also include the degree to which you feel you accomplished these objectives.
  3. Professional Growth: Explain how your internship experience has contributed to your professional growth and how you’ve redefined your professional goals as a result. Also describe any problems you encountered during your internship and how they were solved (or could have been solved).
  4. Skills and Competencies: Explain the skills or competencies you used in your internship, including those you felt prepared to use and those you felt unprepared to use. Describe any new skills you have developed through the experience.
  5. Challenges and Rewards: Describe the experiences that challenged you the most and those that gave you the most satisfaction.
  6. Future: Explain how you think your internship experience will impact your future.

Grading Criteria

  • Demonstrates an open, non-defensive ability to self-appraise, examine personal experiences, and discuss both growth and frustrations.
  • Articulates multiple connections between this learning experience and course material, content from other courses, past learning, life experiences and/or future goals.
  • Addresses all sections of the provided outline in sufficient detail.
  • Includes clear and detailed examples.
  • Viewpoints and interpretations are insightful and well supported.
  • Well-written and free of grammar, spelling, and punctuation errors.

Answers to common questions about the community health internship

How do I register for the internship?

You will need a registration overrides to register for the internship. These overrides are submitted at the first mandatory internship meeting, which is held during registration week every term. Once the override has been entered for you, you’ll register for the internship the same way you register for other classes through the WOU Portal.

Do I pay tuition for internship credits?

Yes. Internship credits count the same as other classes. This means you pay normal tuition and fees.

How and when should I contact the division internship coordinator?

Staying in close contact with the internship coordinator during your Junior and Senior years is recommended as you will be more aware of the internship opportunities available to you.

Meeting with the internship coordinator face to face is required two terms in advance. The internship must be approved, and the paperwork must be filled out before starting your internship. The current division internship coordinator is Janet Roberts. You can call or email to make an appointment.

What should I consider when selecting an internship?

Ask yourself the following questions.

  • What do I want to learn from the internship?
  • What skills do I have, and how can I contribute to an agency?
  • Is it located in a community with which I am already somewhat familiar?
  • Is it located where I might be able to stay with friends or relatives to reduce costs?
  • Is the environment of the site, and travel to and from the site, safe?
  • Does the internship represent the type of setting in which I would eventually like to be employed?
  • Is it located in a community large enough to likely contain significant employment options into which I might network?
  • Is it located in an area of the country where I would like to live?

For information on the requirements for an approved internship, see internship criteria.

Where can I find an internship?

Some possible steps for finding internships are below.

  • Talk with the division internship coordinator about available internships.
  • Visit the Service Learning and Career Development Center for help in finding additional resources for finding internships.
  • Review sites listed at the website and contact the person or agency listed to make an appointment.
  • Talk to previous students or classmates about their internship experiences. You can see what some of our students have done for their internship on the HEXS blog.
  • Call agencies or organizations and ask about available internship opportunities.
  • Connect with any volunteer agency, local or state health department, etc. where previous volunteer experience has been given.

How should I approach an organization to ask about an internship?

After you’ve done some brainstorming and generated a list of agencies where you might like to intern, follow the steps below.

  1. Find the name and contact information of the program manager or director. This is usually listed on the organization’s website.
  2. Call or email this person and ask to set up an appointment to meet to discuss potential internships.
  3. Before the meeting, do some background research to learn more about the agency, what they do, who they serve, etc. Again, this information is probably on the organization’s website though it may also be on social media.
  4. During the interview, articulate what you want to learn in your internship, what your skills are, and how you can contribute to the organization. Also be prepared to discuss possible internship objectives and tangible products to be produced in order for the proposed internship to be evaluated and approved by the division internship coordinator.

Do not wait until the last minute to contact agencies. Start exploring options for internships at least two terms before you want to start.

Can I be “fired” from my internship?

Yes, though it’s rare. If your work performance does not meet the established reasonable standards, the internship site is not obligated to keep you as an intern.

Discharge may be for one of several nondiscriminatory reasons such as:

  • Unsatisfactory performance
  • Incompetence
  • Irregular attendance
  • Inability to perform expected tasks
  • Habitual tardiness
  • Unsatisfactory attitude
  • Improper behavior
  • Lack of dependability
  • Damaging relationships between the agency and its partners, etc.

The circumstances that led to a student being discharged should be carefully documented and reviewed by both the site supervisor and the division internship coordinator. As a safeguard for all parties, the case should be referred to the Division Chair, Dean, and if deemed appropriate, legal counsel.

If you are terminated without adequate warning: Immediately contact the division internship coordinator and be prepared with the following information:

  • Your city and state location
  • The name of the site where you are interning
  • Your immediate site supervisor’s name
  • The phone number for your site supervisor
  • A full explanation of the possible reasons for the impending or immediate termination

The division internship coordinator reserves the right to contact the site supervisor for reasons including checking in on student progress, solving problems, determining the value of the internship, providing input, and explaining expectations.