Health Policy & Planning Internships

photo of bike and pedestrian signThe Health Policy & Planning (HPP) Internship Program is designed to provide work opportunities and practical learning experiences in public health, policy, planning and research, with an emphasis in health equity and place-based primary prevention.

HPP Framework: Primary Prevention & Health Equity

There is a growing recognition that where we live, work, play and go to school shape our health. HPP focuses on building healthy, equitable communities that prevent people from getting sick in the first place. HPP works to ensure all people have the opportunity for health and wellbeing and seeks to build health equity by addressing the root causes of poor health, such as the social, economic, and physical conditions around us. To achieve this goal, HPP employs expertise in policy, planning, research, equity, epidemiology, communications, and advocacy. HPP has a particular focus on supporting populations with higher rates of preventable health issues and in places with the fewest opportunities for health. HPP is currently focused on four areas of work: 1) Stable and affordable housing: protects health and provides the ability to engage in healthy opportunities, 2) Complete neighborhoods: make it easy for residents to be healthy every day in their own communities, 3) High quality education: creates pathways to better health, and 4) Strong local economy: builds household financial security for all.

Focus of Internship Projects

The San Mateo County Health System is seeking three (3) Health Policy and Planning Interns to join the HPP team, a program within the Public Health, Policy and Planning Division. HPP is looking for students who are highly motivated, hardworking, team players, responsible, and creative. HPP is a fast-paced environment where organizational skills and self-motivation are critical. Below are the projects we are recruiting interns to work on through the Fall/Spring 2015-16. 

Project Overview: Public Transportation Analysis for San Mateo County 
The focus of this internship project is to help develop a baseline understanding of public transportation needs and opportunities for San Mateo County.

The San Mateo County Transit District (District) is the administrative body for the principal public transit and transportation programs in San Mateo County: SamTrans bus service, including Redi-Wheels & RediCoast paratransit service, Caltrain commuter rail and the San Mateo County Transportation Authority (TA). Caltrain and the TA have contracted with the District to serve as their managing agency, under the direction of their appointed boards.

In the past few years, SamTrans has completed several strategic plans for their various programs, including their 2015-2019 Strategic Plan, the 2014-2019 Transportation Authority Strategic Plan, The 2015-2024 Caltrain Strategic Plan, and several specific plans such as the El Camino Real Bus Rapid Transit Phasing Study in 2014 and the SamTrans Service Plan in 2013.
As part of this internship, the intern will:

1) Review all of the strategic plans developed by each of the programs operated by SamTrans.
2) Identify additional documents and research which identifies public transportation needs and opportunities in San Mateo County. 
3) Attend the various Citizens’ Advisory Committee meetings for SamTrans, the Transportation Authority, and Caltrain.
4) Develop a short internal memo highlighting their priorities and concerns.
5) Based on the document review and Committee participation, draft a brief memo highlighting identified transit needs and challenges and any gaps in current research or understanding of transit needs for San Mateo County. Identify opportunities for research or information gathering.
6) Undertake research, as needed, to fill gaps in the understanding of transit needs and opportunities, especially for impacted populations such as youth, low-income workers, communities of color, those with disabilities or older adults. Draft memo or report based on findings.

For more information on Get Healthy projects funded to date, please visit

Project Overview: Get Healthy Video Productions
The focus of this internship is to develop three to five videos for educational and promotional purposes to help advance our work to build healthy equitable communities in San Mateo County.

These videos will serve as a mechanism to advance the connection between health and Get Healthy’s four priorities’ and place-based prevention strategies and move Get Healthy’s policy agenda by raising awareness among policymakers and community members about health equity in San Mateo County. The videos will be showcased on the Get Healthy website, shared via the Get Healthy e-newsletters and social media accounts, and possibly with the media as part of a larger communications campaign.

Videos can include short educational pieces on healthy equity, place-based prevention, and components of a healthy community; training videos on how to incorporate healthy planning best practices at the City level that advance Get Healthy priorities; and interviews with residents and health professional as part of a case study series on health in San Mateo County.

As part of this internship, the intern will:

1) Coordinate pre-production and production related activities such as planning, facilitating, editing, and publishing field-based educational videos that speak to the health connection between each priority area’s and inspire action from decision makers. This includes interacting with clients and partners to help them be comfortable in front of the camera and adapting video products to fit the needs of target audience. 
2) Create promotional big picture videos with an overview of Get Healthy San Mateo County and what makes a healthy community based on the 10 components developed through the strategic planning process.
3) Develop written video protocols based on best practices, including storyboarding, interviewing, filming, and editing.

Project Overview: Health & Equity Indicators Project  (More info coming soon!) 
The initial focus of the internship project will be to help identify the most effective indicators to measure health and equity in San Mateo County from a health equity and place-based perspective. These indicators will correspond with a set of ten key components of a healthy, equitable community that were identified during community visioning sessions across San Mateo County. Example components include healthy, affordable and stable housing; active transportation options; a sense of belonging to a community; food access; and a thriving and inclusive economy. For the full list, visit Once the indicators are identified, the intern will work with HPP staff to compile the data and visualize it effectively for both internal and external audiences.


  • Current students in graduate school and recent graduates (Master's degree or higher) — up to one year after graduation date — are eligible to apply. You may not be a current San Mateo County employee.
  • Current graduate students with valid California driver’s license and/or ability to provide own transportation for work assignments are eligible to apply. (Video Productions Intern only)
  • Successful applicants will demonstrate one or more of the following:
    • You, or a member of your family, have been adversely affected by health inequities related to any of the following:You, or a member of your family, have been adversely affected by health inequities related to any of the following:
      a) systemic failures of the social, physical or economic environment
      b) live or grew up in a low-income neighborhood
      c) are the first in your family to attend higher education, or
      e) have experienced discrimination due to race, ethnicity or other social or economic situations.
    • Have a deep passion for addressing health inequities, and have experience working in programs that promote equity. This can be through a multitude of intervention types and variety of locations or organizations.

Internship Term & Pay

The HPP Summer Internship program is from June through August and the Fall/Spring Internship is from November through April.  Reasonable timeframe adjustments can be negotiated. Interns must commit to working a minimum of 32 hours per week for the Summer Internship and 16 hours per week for the Fall/Spring Internship. Graduate students are paid $18.91 per hour.

How to Apply

We are now accepting fall/spring internship applications. The deadline is Thursday, September 18, 2015.  Internship applications should be submitted to or faxed to (650) 573-2116 with the required attachments below.  Indicate the project(s) you are interested in applying for in your cover letter.  Only completed applications will be reviewed.  Please contact us if you do not receive confirmation that we received your application. If selected, you will be invited for an interview. In-person interviews are strongly preferred, but telephone interviews can be arranged if needed.

  1. Cover letter
  2. Completed application with supplemental questions (Video Productions applicants, please use this application)
  3. Resume
  4. 2-3 video samples (Video Productions Intern only)


Have questions? Please review our Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) or contact:

Rosa Torpis
Program Coordinator
225 37th Avenue
San Mateo, CA 94403


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