Internship Program

Program Description

The Pennsylvania Emergency Management Agency (PEMA) is seeking qualified applicants through the Hazard Mitigation Planning Internship Program to provide mitigation planning support to counties of the Commonwealth to update county Hazard Mitigation Plans and/or assist counties with disaster recovery planning efforts.

Resiliency is the ability of the Commonwealth, its communities, organizations, and citizens to prepare for and rebound from shocks and stresses, recover quickly, and be able to sustain and enhance our strength. Hazard mitigation and disaster recovery planning are essential components of resiliency. Disaster recovery includes activities to restore services and systems impacted by disasters, while hazard mitigation is the effort to reduce loss of life and property by lessening the impact of disasters.

A hazard mitigation plan is a community-driven, living document that communities use to reduce their vulnerability to hazards. Counties and communities develop hazard mitigation plans to assess their risk to hazards, develop a prioritized action plan to mitigate impacts of identified hazards, and create a strategy to implement those actions. Having an approved hazard mitigation plan also makes communities eligible for certain Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) programs.

Each county must update its hazard mitigation plan every five years, but they often do not have the capability or capacity to update them on their own. Students at universities throughout Pennsylvania can assist counties with updating their hazard mitigation plans through research and data collection, writing, data analysis, preparing tables and charts, providing GIS support, identifying historic preservation implications, and more. Students may also be able to assist communities with pre- and post-disaster recovery efforts, including planning, research, and outreach efforts.

This program provides a multitude of benefits. It assists counties with their hazard mitigation planning needs and enhances their relationships with universities, helps universities develop relationships with counties and enhance career development opportunities for students, and provides students with networking, career development, and learning opportunities.

Information for Counties about Internship Opportunities

In March 2016, PEMA held a webinar to inform counties about the potential for interns to assist them with their hazard mitigation and recovery planning needs. This webinar discussed specific aspects of hazard mitigation plans and disaster recovery plans that student interns may be able to support through research, writing, GIS mapping, data analysis, and outreach.  To learn more about the internship program and your responsibilities for participating as a county, please access the webinar presentation here.

If you represent a county that is interested in supervising an intern to complete hazard mitigation or recovery planning, please take the following survey by clicking here.

If you are considering hosting an intern, please read the following documents for more information about potential intern activities and the supervisor’s responsibilities:

Hazard Mitigation Planning Tasks for University Students
County Guidance Sheet

Information for Universities about Internship Opportunities

In March 2016, PEMA held a webinar with universities to discuss the potential for academic institutions and students to assist counties with hazard mitigation and disaster recovery planning through an internship program. This webinar provided an overview of hazard mitigation planning and outlined how student interns could potentially support counties with their hazard mitigation and disaster recovery planning needs through research, writing, GIS mapping, data analysis, and outreach. Please access this webinar presentation here to learn more about the internship program and your responsibilities as a university that supports interns in this program.

If you represent a university who is interested in having students participate in a hazard mitigation or recovery planning internships, please take the following survey by clicking here.

Information for Students about Internship Opportunities

If you are a student who is interested in applying to PEMA’s Hazard Mitigation Planning Internship Program, please access the webinar presentation here. This presentation provides an overview of the program, highlights tasks that interns may assist with, and outlines the internship application process.

If you are interested in this internship opportunity, please review the following guidance sheet.

Student Guidance Sheet

Internship Application

The Hazard Mitigation Planning Internship Program application is available here. Completed applications must be emailed to Questions about the program may be emailed to

Professional Development

The following organizations may be valuable to students interested in pursuing careers in hazard mitigation or recovery planning:

American Planning Association (APA):  APA is a nationwide, professional organization of planners. APA’s functions are to act as a forum for planners to exchange ideas, serve as a professional development resource, provide networking opportunities, and administer the American Institute of Certified Planners (AICP) program, which is a national certification program for planners. APA hosts the Hazards Planning Center, which includes research and resources related to projects and policies focusing on hazard mitigation, post-disaster recovery, and climate change adaptation. APA can be a useful resource for students to learn more about planning and meet professionals in the field. The Hazard Mitigation Planning Internship Program could also potentially count toward the professional planning experience needed to obtain AICP certification, which can range from two to eight years, depending on an applicant’s level of education. For more information about the Pennsylvania Chapter of the APA, please contact Susan Elks, Professional Development Officer, at or 610-344-6285.

Association of State Floodplain Managers (ASFPM):  ASFPM is an organization of professionals involved in floodplain management, flood hazard mitigation, the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP), and flood preparedness, warning, and recovery. Like APA, ASFPM organizes training and education, provides networking opportunities, and administers the Certified Floodplain Manager (CFM) program. The Hazard Mitigation Planning Internship Program can introduce interns to information that may be on the CFM exam, and could provide relevant experience to include on the CFM application. The Pennsylvania Association of Floodplain Managers can also be a valuable resource for students interested in careers in floodplain management.

Pennsylvania Silver Jackets:  The Pennsylvania Silver Jackets are an interagency team dedicated to working with the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania and other stakeholders to develop and implement solutions to flood hazards by combining available resources. The Pennsylvania Silver Jackets provide a variety of flood risk management resources and can serve as another professional development resource for students interested in hazard mitigation planning, recovery planning, and floodplain management. For more information about the Pennsylvania Silver Jackets, please contact David Bollinger at or 215-931-5561.


The following hazard mitigation and planning resources may also be valuable to interested applicants and current interns:


Pennsylvania and County Information and Contacts

Federal Planning Information and Guidance