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Student outdoors during an internship.

Your Biobehavioral Health course work, combined with paid or volunteer work experiences that are relevant to your career goals, will open the door to a vast variety of promising career opportunities after graduation.

The BBH faculty set a core curriculum for all BBH majors that provides some flexibility to select additional courses to enhance classroom learning. Nevertheless, practical hands-on experiences outside the classroom are also essential to career preparation.

Independent Study

A BBH faculty member might be willing to sponsor you for an independent study that qualifies for academic credit. The University specifies that 45 hours per semester is required to receive 1 academic credit. To find a sponsor for an independent study, read about the interests of the faculty, make an appointment with the appropriate faculty member, and discuss your ideas. If the faculty member agrees to sponsor you, you will need to work together to write a contract that specifies what must be done to receive credit for the project. Contact Kathy Gilham in 223 Biobehavioral Health Building to complete, sign, and return the form for independent study, which will require the addition of BBH 296 or 496 to your schedule.

Externships

Penn State Externships provide a five-day observation-oriented experience that takes place during one of the semester breaks or spring break in an employment setting related to your career and educational goals. Many of the experiences include observation of or participation in daily operations of the organization. Typically, as an extern, you would shadow a Penn State alumni sponsor engaged in a career related to your interests. However, if the pre-arranged sites appropriate for BBH majors do not meet your needs, Career Services may be able to assist in identifying an alternate job shadowing opportunity.

Summer Field Experiences, Internships, and Jobs

Both paid and unpaid internships are intended to provide professional experience and learning opportunities related to your major and/or career plans. While BBH does not currently have a formalized internship process in place, you are encouraged to check Nittany Lion Career Network, available through Career Services, for open job and internship positions. Additional job and internship search strategies can be accessed through the Career Services website.

For BBH undergraduate students, paid summer employment that provides professionally relevant experience offers many of the same benefits as an internship. While other summer or part-time jobs may not provide direct professional experience, they may be beneficial in providing exposure to an organization related to your academic or career plans, such as office work in a healthcare facility.

Field experiences and jobs of interest to BBH students may be found at the following links:

The Office of Health Promotion and Wellness

The Office of Health Promotion and Wellness offers a number of excellent opportunities for you to become involved in programs related to health promotion. Students who participate in these programs enhance their communication skills, learn about current health issues, gain experience in college health, serve fellow students, develop leadership skills, enrich their Penn State experience, and build friendships that will last a lifetime. Programs include:

  • Alcohol Intervention Program

  • Clinic Volunteer Program

  • Physical Therapy

  • Emergency Medical Technicians

  • HealthWorks

  • HIV Test Counselors

Career Services

It is never too early in your academic experience to explore all of the career services available to you, and Penn State Career Services is an excellent place to start. You can meet with a drop-in counselor any time between 8:30 a.m.–4:00 p.m. weekdays in the Bank of America Career Services Center to discuss your concerns or to schedule an appointment with a career counselor.

In addition, you’ll want to take advantage of all networking opportunities available to you. Make contacts through friends, family, current/former employers, classmates, and faculty members. Peruse newspapers, newsletters, job fairs, hometown contacts, professional associations, student organizations, trade magazines, community service/volunteer groups, and more.

While there is a great deal of information available, you must be persistent in your search. Have a plan that includes a great resume and cover letter, appropriate follow-through, and good record keeping. Be prepared, open-minded, flexible, and professional. It's up to you to make all of your contacts count!