Making the Most of Your Winter Break: Secure a Summer Internship Now


You survived finals week. The holidays are here and the New Year awaits you. The furthest thing from your mind right now is work, and particularly school work. You just want a moment of relaxation after those long hours of writing papers and taking exams, and you deserve it. You have earned some time to relax with your family and friends during the holidays.

The key, however, to making the most of your winter break, is to not rest entirely. It is very easy to make rest an objective instead of a necessity. Winter break is the time to start searching for paid summer internships.

I’m not going to detail the full benefits of a paid summer internship, but here are what I consider to be some major ones:

1) You pick up valuable work experience for your resume.

2) You create relationships with new contacts that can advocate on your behalf when a job opens up in the future.

3) You get to learn which aspects of a job position you like and dislike, which will better help you decide on whether a career is a good fit for you.

4) And oh, yes, you get paid for your time to figure out what you want to do in life!

To help you get started this winter, MyHCN has launched our NEW Internships Page, featuring hundreds of internship programs across the country. We encourage you to use our interactive map and database to search by state, eligibility, and application deadline. We will continue to add to the database, but start now as many programs have deadlines fast approaching in January and February!

Because deadlines will sneak up on you faster than you think, it is very important that you find the internships you are interested in and create a list of summer opportunities that you want. You should also reach out now to the people you want to write you a letter of recommendation. It is good to contact people (past professors and managers) early so they have enough time to write you a really strong letter. Some people may be too busy and ask you to write most of the letter and then have them review it, make any changes they see fit, and sign off on the letter, so be prepared to write a very strong letter yourself.  Winter break is also a great time to conduct informational interviews with people aligned with your career direction. Informational interviews provide valuable insights into career options and can lead to internships, jobs, or mentorship. Lastly, apply to multiple internship opportunities to increase your chances of getting a summer job.

So, enjoy this week. Enjoy the holidays, and please take some time where you think about nothing but food, family, and presents. But then, dive right back into work mode and start focusing on the seemingly far off summer. It’s closer than you think. And you’re not in it alone! MyHCN is a strong support system where you can find many people in the same position as you are, so if you need help or have questions, just ask. You can use our forum to post a question, concern, comment, etc., and any members or administrators can respond and engage.

We would also like to take a moment to highlight Health Career Connection (HCC).

Health Career Connection is a paid summer internship program for college students and recent graduates interested in health careers such as public health, health administration, medicine, nursing administration, policy and management, and more. MyHCN Founder Jeff Oxendine founded HCC nearly 25 years ago to support undergraduate college students to pursue health careers and graduate education. HCC interns spend 10-weeks (40 hours per week) with a host organization such as a health or hospital system, community health center or clinic, non-profit, community-based organization, or foundation. HCC’s apprenticeship model allows interns to take ownership of a dedicated project while preceptors and HCC staff provide guidance and mentoring. The program also provides workshops and trainings on topics such as Leadership & Advocacy, Cultural Humility, and Life and Career Planning. HCC site tours allow interns to visit other organizations and placements as well as meet preceptors from a wide network in the health field, so it is a huge networking opportunity on top of the experience you will get. The HCC application is open now—be sure to apply by February 9, 2015 online HERE. You can also learn more at

My own personal HCC summer internship was by far one of the best experiences I have ever had and it helped solidify my desire to pursue a career in public health. I worked in New Jersey at the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation (RWJF). RWJF is a large private foundation that has long funded public health projects that affect our lives today. One project that they initially funded is the 9-1-1 emergency number, which has only existed since the 1970s. 

Before I started my internship, I read through the staff biographies online and was admittedly intimidated because I did not think I would have much to offer since nearly everyone had several years of experience and graduate degrees. But from day one, everyone at RWJF made me feel at home and encouraged me to get involved in their projects. My preceptor Susan Hassmiller said to me on my first day, “We did not invest money to bring you on board to grab our coffee and copy papers. You will be a valuable member of our team and will learn a lot this summer.” I did learn a lot that summer about how private foundations fund projects and I also got to share my input on grant project proposals. Additionally, several of my colleagues went out of their way to put me in contact with the admission officials at different graduate schools I wanted to apply to in the future. They even wrote me letters of recommendations for scholarships and graduate schools. Without the connections I made through HCC, I would not have gone to my dream school, UC Berkeley, and I would not be today working at my dream organization, also UC Berkeley. 

So what are you waiting for? Apply now!

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