Beginning this fall, University of Houston-Victoria students can get hands-on work experience as interns for the Victoria County Public Health Department.
A five-year agreement between UHV and Victoria County authorizes county departments to hire UHV undergraduate and graduate students for internships. The positions will be unpaid, but in most instances, students can receive class credit.
“Besides earning course credit, this will be a great resume builder for our students,” said Amy Hatmaker, UHV Career Services manager. “Getting meaningful work experience with a government office is valuable. Having any kind of government office experience on your resume is viewed positively by most employers.”
Although open to students of any major, Hatmaker said the Health Department internships may be of particular interest to those studying health care administration, communications and health studies. It also eventually could be something UHV nursing students want to pursue. UHV’s new Registered Nurse to Bachelor of Science in Nursing program begins this fall.
Derrick Neal, Victoria County public health director, said the internships will provide students with research, project management and outreach-related work experience.
“I’m excited about this partnership for several reasons,” Neal said. “We see this as an opportunity to recruit UHV students to stay in Victoria after graduation. Sometimes, graduates gravitate toward larger metropolitan areas, so this is a chance to show them there are some great opportunities in public health locally.”
During past jobs Neal had in Houston and Abilene, student interns incorporated innovation and technology into those offices, he said.
“It gave us an opportunity to raise the bar and excited existing employees,” he said. “I’m looking to integrate young people into what we do from a leadership perspective. Some people are natural leaders and can dive in to what we do from a management perspective right away.”
UHV offers a Bachelor of Business Administration in healthcare administration. Students learn how healthcare organizations operate efficiently, effectively and profitably.
“Sometimes it can be difficult for healthcare administration students to find internships because of various liability and confidentiality policies in medical practices,” Hatmaker said. “This is a great opportunity for substantial administrative work.”
In 2014, UHV began offering a Bachelor of Science in health studies. The program helps students enter employment in the public health sector, such as working in community health agencies, state public health departments and worksite health promotion programs. As part of the program’s capstone course, students take part in an internship to gain workplace experience.
“Getting work experience is a critical component for our health studies students,” said Fred Litton, dean of the UHV School of Education, Health Professions & Human Development. “This agreement gives students a great internship possibility without leaving Victoria County, and it allows them to help serve local residents.”
While the first interns will work at the Health Department, the agreement approved by the Victoria County Commissioners’ Court permits internships in all county departments. Hatmaker said there is a possibility in the future that criminal justice students can intern with the Sheriff’s Office or Juvenile Services. Business majors may be able to intern with the accounting and budgeting areas of county government.
“I think it will open the door to other county departments using interns and getting our students some real-life experience,” Hatmaker said. “We’ve been trying to get a partnership like this in place for awhile. There will be so many opportunities coming out of this.”
Students interested in interning with the Health Department should contact Hatmaker at firstname.lastname@example.org or 361-570-4378.