Information for Mentors

What is the role of the Mentor and the Host Organization?

The overarching goal of the MPH Internship Program is to provide opportunities for students to gain essential skills in the field of public health. The arrangement should be a mutually beneficial relationship for both the student and the organization. Students are expected to act as professionals at all times and contribute in a positive and significant way to the organization. Mentors and host organizations should also remain mindful of the fact that the internship is an academic-related opportunity for students to learn from and observe a real-world public health work environment. However, while most jobs entail some level of clerical work, these activities will not satisfy the graduate internship requirements of the MPH degree. Thus, photocopying, scheduling, mail preparation, etc. should not consume a significant portion of the student’s experience. In addition, while a literature review is often required as part of any placement project, a literature review alone is not sufficient to constitute an internship experience.

What qualifications should mentors have?

Mentors should have advanced degrees, ideally within the field of public health and should hold decision-making positions within the host organization. Advanced degrees are not required In cases where an individual has been practicing public health for numerous years and can offer a wealth of experiences to a graduate public health student. A daily supervisor with significant experience as a public health practitioner may also be assigned to a student in addition to the mentor.

What are mentors expected to do?

  • Orient the student to the organization and the public health program(s) specific to the internship;
  • Explain work rules and procedures, including time and attendance policies to which the student will be held accountable;
  • Coordinate access to resources such as a computer workstation, relevant data systems, and/or reimbursement for necessary travel;
  • Involve the student in a diverse range of organizational activities and decision-making; arrange for attendance at meetings both internal and external, introduce the student to colleagues and leadership within the organization, provide shadowing opportunities in addition to tangible project assignments;
  • Communicate regularly with the student to discuss progress and to ensure expectations are being met for all parties. Involve the faculty advisor and/or Coordinator of Internships & Career Services immediately should any problems or concerns arise throughout the semester;
  • Review the student’s internship paperwork and required deliverables in conjunction with the student and the student’s faculty advisor according to due dates set by the SPH.

As a potential mentor, how do I go about applying for a student?

Potential mentors should submit available opportunities via the “Position Proposal for a University at Albany School of Public Health Graduate Student” form.  This form is distributed to prospective mentors in advance of each internship application season. Each semester, the Coordinator of Internships & Career Services will notify prospective mentors via email, of upcoming submission dates for acquiring a student for the upcoming semester.  Please note that the School’s first priority is to provide internship placement assistance to students needing positions for academic credit. Requirements vary by degree and for MS and DrPH students, by area of concentration.

All data pertaining to MPH Internships is maintained in the Dean’s Office. This coordinated approach is critical to managing the School’s funding programs and reporting requirements.  

How do I go about interviewing and selecting a student?

Positions submitted to the Dean’s Office will be posted on the University at Albany electronic reserves system (ERes) maintained through the library website. This posting method will be password protected and only accessible to UAlbany SPH students and faculty advisors. Students have a time period in which to review posted positions. Students then submit a list of positions to which they would like to apply to the Dean’s Office.  Potential mentors will then receive a set of resumes from interested students (electronically from the Dean’s Office) and can decide to interview any number of applicants at their discretion.

While the School supports a formal interview process as a benefit to the student and overall matching process, this is not required. In addition to providing updates throughout the student selection process, mentors should notify the Coordinator of Internships & Career Services as soon as a student is selected. This will assist the School in providing the greatest level of support and guidance to both mentors and students throughout the selection process.

Alternatively, a student, in consultation with the faculty advisor and the Coordinator of Internships and Career Services, can develop a proposal for an internship experience outside of those submitted to SPH. If a student finds a position in this way, the organization is not required to complete the formal submission, posting and search process. In all cases, students are responsible for selecting internship positions deemed by the student’s faculty advisor to be appropriate to their program of study.

Do most internship positions provide students with monetary compensation?

The vast majority of MPH internships are funded, typically between $12 and $15/hour. If providing an hourly salary is not feasible, offering a stipend will be beneficial in competing for students. Student funding may be available through the School for internships with local health departments and the NYS DOH through the Public Health Leaders of Tomorrow (PHLOT) program or a Maternal and Child Health Grant (MCH). PHLOT funding is available only to MS and MPH students completing the internship for academic credit and is limited to students with U.S. citizenship or permanent residence.

Are students graded for the performance within the internship position?

The Registration Form, One-Month Review, Mentor Evaluation, Final Internship Report, and Student Evaluation, all described under the Internship Paperwork Requirements link below, are all major components when determining a student’s internship grade. Internships are graded on a “Satisfactory” or “Unsatisfactory” basis.
Any problems leading to assignment of an Unsatisfactory by the mentor should be clearly communicated to the student and to the Dean’s Office immediately. Involving the Coordinator of Internships & Career Services at the first signs of difficulties will assist in addressing problems in a timely manner. Being direct with the student about expectations and consequences for failing to meet set expectations are essential to ensuring a positive experience for all parties involved. Should an Unsatisfactory be assigned, mentors should provide supporting documentation of meetings with the student and mentor during which concern related to student progress was directly discussed (e.g., One-Month Review, additional communication via email, etc.).

Internship Paperwork Requirements  

Mentor Testimonials

Jennifer Barkan, Resource Manager
U.S. Committee for Refugees and Immigrants

I have been so pleased with the MPH interns who have assisted with health education and services for refugee clients at the U.S. Committee for Refugees and Immigrants (USCRI) in Albany.  Read more...

Oscar Jimenez, MPH, Director for Community and Economic Integration
NEW YORK ASSOCIATION OF PSYCHIATRIC REHABILITATION SERVICES (NAYPRS)

NYAPRS is simply thrilled to be host for MPH internships in collaboration with the SUNY Albany School of Public Health. This is the case because every one of our interns has made very significant contributions to our work and demonstrated an amazing commitment to innovative policy-making, program development, and social change.  Read more...

David S. Pratt, MD, MPH
Schenectady Public Health Services

Although I am new to mentoring Public Health Interns I enjoy the role very much. I find involving students in the life of the department engages them rapidly. Selecting topics of shared interest then allows the student to gain depth and a fuller experience in a specific area of public health. Read more...

Gary Malys, Assistant Director, Division of Community Services
NYS Office for the Aging

I’ve been a mentor for SPH students for past five or six years both through the NYS Department of Health (DOH) and currently as the Assistant Director for the Division of Community Services at the New York State Office for the Aging (OFA). I’ve had students from various disciplines including epidemiology, community health, policy and management and others. My role in part is to make sure that MPH students achieve the objectives outlined in their school’s internship requirements. Read more...