Internships

Internships are an essential part of graduate training in public history.  All M.A. history students who select public history as their major field and those pursuing the graduate certificate in public history are required to do an internship for academic credit.  Internships introduce the demands of professional practice, develop valuable skills and knowledge, and provide important learning opportunities.  For many reasons, internships are an important part of graduate training in public history.

To qualify for academic credit, an internship must be approved by the internship coordinator in the Department of History.  The following requirements must also be met.

  • Students are expected to work for a total of 225 hours.  That assumes fifteen hours a week for one semester.  Students can fulfill this requirement in a shorter or longer period of time, provided that the host institution is willing to accommodate a different schedule.  Students often work intensively during the summer months to fulfill 225-hour requirement, for example, and complete the remaining tasks required by the Department of History in the fall.
  • Students must do a substantive project as part of the internship.  While routine tasks are to be expected, students should be given the opportunity to use and develop their skills and knowledge, show creativity, and learn through active involvement in institutional programs.  Ideally, the project should produce a tangible product that students will be able to show prospective employers.  Examples include:
- a historical exhibit (traditional or online)
- an interpretive program or tour
- interpretive plans
- specialized research on a particular topic or topics
- finding aids for archival collections
- local landmark designation reports
- National Register of Historic Places
- adaptive reuse studies
- grant proposals
- conditions assessments for historic buildings and sites
- collections inventories
- digitization projects
- policies related to collections care and management, interpretation, or programming
- lesson plans for elementary and secondary classes

Dr. Tracy K'Meyer coordinates all department internships.  Students should make an appointment with her before starting an internship to discuss expectations and requirements.  To receive academic credit, students must be enrolled in HIST 608 – Practicum in Public History, in the semester in which they complete all internship requirements.  Students should consult Dr. K’Meyer before enrolling in HIST 608.

Host Institutions

We aim to limit the obligations of institutions and organizations that host interns as much as possible.  Our basic requirements are as follows:

  • Someone on staff must serve as the designated contact for the internship.  This person will communicate with the Department of History as needed and provide a midterm report on the progress of the internship.  The midterm evaluation need not be detailed or thorough.  A short statement as to whether or not the student is performing adequately is all that is required.
  • Interns must be given opportunities to apply their skills and abilities to a project requiring creativity, initiative, and decision-making typical of professional employment.  This especially pertains to the “substantive project” discussed above.  While work of this kind need not constitute the focus of the internship, it should form a significant part.
  • Upon completion of the internship, the supervisor will write a written evaluation of the student’s performance.  This evaluation should be a fair and honest critique that acknowledges strengths as well as weaknesses.  Students are graded on their performance as interns, and the supervisor’s evaluation receives significant weight in determining the final grade.  It may also be referenced in future letters of recommendation written by the internship coordinator.

Compensation

At present, about 70 percent of our interns receive some sort of financial compensation.  Host institutions usually pay $12-15/hr.  Some pay students a bi-weekly or monthly stipend instead of hourly wages.  Since students receive academic credit for internships, some do unpaid internships.  Pay is not required of institutions and organizations that host interns.  For obvious reasons, however, students tend to prefer paid over unpaid internships.  Since it is rare for students to be fully supported by university or external funding during their graduate studies, even modest compensation can make a big difference.

Recent Graduate Internships