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Who are the Interns/Volunteers?

Participants include both students and young professionals from different cultural, academic, as well as geographic backgrounds with a common interest: a motivation to pursue a career in supporting public health. Interns/volunteers come from the region of the, Africa, and Asia. We had interns/volunteers from Peru, Trinidad and Tobago, United States, Saudi Arabia, Romania, Turkey, Japan, Jamaica to name a few. They are from various academic backgrounds, from international politics, political sciences, computer sciences, marketing finances, biology, journalism and public health, to political communications and video editing. Language variety is enormous among PAHO interns/volunteers, including the four PAHO official languages (English, Spanish, Portuguese, and French); but also Arabic, German, Hungarian, Mandarin, Polish, Romanian and Urdu, etc.

Most individuals who work for the Organization are bilingual, usually Spanish &English, Portuguese & English or Spanish & Portuguese. Although this is not a requirement for a successful internship, having one of these language combinations is quite useful. Generally, it is best if the individual is fluent in the working language of the country of assignment. 

interns and volunteers


What are the Interns/Volunteers’ projects?

Ana Ragonesi with the Internship Program Coordinator, Farida Kerouani, Paris 2014

Ana Ragonesi with the Internship Program Coordinator, Farida Kerouani, Paris 2014

Although internships are unpaid, trainees are well rewarded with the interesting tasks and projects they are assigned, which call upon their writing, organizational, communication and research skills. Previous projects included the production and publication of a report titled “Social Protection in Schemes for Mother, Newborn, and Child Populations”; the design of a stress management workshop for hospital staff in Belize; the redaction of a research paper on Preliminary Community Assessment in Ecuador; the production of a written assessment on Caribbean Chronic Care Collaborative for Anguilla, Antigua & Barbuda, Barbados, Grenada, and St. Lucia.




The purpose of the internship

  • to provide a structural framework to match trainees from diverse academic backgrounds with a PAHO technical or administrative program in which their educational experience will be enhanced through practical assignments;
  • to expose trainees to the work and goals of PAHO, and increase their knowledge and understanding of the Organization’s mission;
  • to provide PAHO programs with invaluable input from the trainees’ various perspectives and specializations. Most students are placed in health-related programs, although other disciplines can be considered such as Information technology or Finances if appropriate.




  • Minimum age of 20 years old.
  • Enrolled in a course of study relevant to PAHO/WHO's work at a university or equivalent institution leading to a graduate or post-graduate degree. Applicants who apply for an internship within six months of completion of their formal qualification may also qualify for consideration.
  • Have strong writing, research, and organizational skills to support technical cooperation efforts.
  • Able to work independently and demonstrate initiative and flexibility.
  • Strong team orientation.
  • Communicate effectively orally and in writing.
  • Show willingness to learn from mistakes.
  • Produce and deliver quality results.
  • Respect and promote difference.
  • Able to work in a multi-cultural environment.
  • Be fluent in the working language of the duty station to which they would be assigned and who have a working knowledge of another official language of the Organization (English, Spanish, Portuguese, and French).
  • Have health insurance coverage.
  • Not have previously participated in PAHO/WHO's internship/practicum program.
  • Not have any relatives of active staff working at PAHO/WHO (HQ, country offices, or Centers).  Under the Staff regulations relatives are defined as:

      A. Subject to Staff Rule 110.7.3: The term “immediate family member” means the spouse, children, parents, and siblings of the staff member and the children, parents and siblings of the staff member’s spouse.

      B. Persons closely related by blood or by marriage to a staff member shall not normally be appointed if another equally qualified person is available. Persons closely related by blood or marriage include an immediate family member, as defined in Rule 110.7.3, and grandparents, grandchildren, uncles, aunts, nieces, and nephews, as well as any step-relatives, of the staff member or his or her spouse - Staff Rule 410.3.1.

    • The same requirements  except that Volunteers should have finished their studies and their experience and professional background enable them to make a valuable contribution to the work of the Organization.


    Payment, Liability, Insurance

    Under PAHO regulations, no provision is made for remuneration of interns/volunteers. All costs connected with internships must therefore be borne by the interns or their sponsoring institutions or governments. This includes costs relating to travel, living and accommodation (arrangements responsibility of the interns).  The following stipulations should be noted with regard to insurance coverage:

    PAHO accepts no responsibility or liability for costs arising from damages, travel, accident and/or illness incurred during an Internship.

    Interns are therefore asked to submit(in advance), proof of coverage by a medical insurance plan valid for locations in which the internship will take place, as interns are not covered by PAHO Insurance Plan.


    Future Employment at PAHO

    Following completion of an internship with PAHO, any subsequent employment with PAHO shall be subject to established recruitment and selection procedures. For recruitment purposes, interns are not considered "internal candidates".



    When required, a visa must be obtained by the intern prior to initiating travel to the country/place of work. It is the responsibility of the intern to apply for and obtain the visa on his/her national passport prior to departure. PAHO may assist if there is a PAHO office in the country of departure. Interns who will be working at the PAHO HQ in Washington, DC must be lawfully present and able to participate as interns pursuant to U.S. State Department and USCIS rules and regulations. Applicants interested in interning at the PAHO HQ in Washington DC who are not already lawfully present in the United States in an immigration status which permits him/her to participate as an intern, must apply for and be granted a G-4 visa prior to commencing their internship. The Human Resources Management department will provide a letter to the intern for use in applying for a G-4 visa.

    For other type of visa, please contact the Internship and Practicum Coordinator at Este endereço de e-mail está protegido contra spambots. Você deve habilitar o JavaScript para visualizá-lo. who will advise you as to whether or not your visa is acceptable. 



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