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History Internships

Summer Internship Opportunities 2024

Internship coordinator for summer 2024: Prof. Nina Lerman

The History Department has established two programs enabling its students to gain first-hand experience in public history (or occasionally other modes of historical work).

The Bierman Regional History Internship Program enables the department to partner with local or regional projects and entities by paying interns to work with them during the summer. Bierman interns will work with the project leaders and department faculty to define tasks and goals. They will be paid for up to 300 hours at Washington State minimum wage for the hours worked.

The History Department Summer Internship Award provides an opportunity for its students to develop their own interests while working with experienced professionals "doing history" in ways not possible during the school year. Each intern seeks their own placement, for example in a museum, historic site, or archive, and applies for the internship grant with the support of a sponsor in that organization. Most often these interns gain first-hand exposure to the goals and techniques of public history, working with primary materials and thinking about the mission and audience of the site or library. The Department provides a monthly grant of $1630 (i.e., $4890 for three months); interns who have taken Hist 299 then earn academic credit through the fall course Hist 470.

For both programs, your first step is to contact and meet with the Internship Coordinator.

Applications to the department for both programs consist of

  1. a cover letter indicating your intention to be a candidate for an internship.              
  2. a two page statement of why you want to hold this internship and how it fits with your career plans.
  3. a current resume.           
  4. a copy of your “academic evaluation” (not a transcript).           

For 2024 we are using a rolling schedule: a) alert the internship coordinator of your interest as soon as possible and discuss materials; b) submit your materials by email to the Internship Coordinator for evaluation by the department.

Bierman Regional History Internship Program

Our 2023 partner for the Bierman program is the Maxville Heritage Interpretive Center in Joseph, Oregon. If you are interested in this internship, you will apply to the History Department, after which all applications for this program will be jointly reviewed with project leaders at Maxville. It is possible an interview will follow. Please talk with the Internship Coordinator for details about this opportunity.

History Department Summer Internship Grant

The path to the summer internship grant depends heavily on you and your interests in history! Here are the steps along the way:

Preliminary conversations with coordinator and faculty members: gather ideas about where you want to be and what kinds of historical work you’d be interested in—talk to faculty in your field of interest—and make an appointment with the internship coordinator to discuss your options.

Students need to seek out their own internship opportunity. As you generate ideas in consultation with the faculty, you will also contact likely host organizations to find connections between their needs and your interests. (Note that from their point of view, they are getting a free and wonderful intern for the summer; your stipend comes from past gifts to the History Department.) Your host may wish to talk with the coordinator.

The central component of any proposed internship must be that the student will be allowed to work as an historian. This means evaluating primary materials and being actively involved in the creation of whatever the organization is working on, or some comparable experience. We will not fund positions where the "intern" is used mainly as a secretary, to run errands, or to perform other such tasks. We will not fund participation in programs that treat you as a tourist and/or engage in uncritical historical work.

Possible places one might seek opportunities include: State Historical Societies, Research Libraries, Historical Museums, National Parks, Archives, or Journals. This is by no means an exhaustive list. We will consider supporting you in existing programs for unpaid interns, but these programs require scrutiny: there are some great programs, and also some where participants are engaged in largely superficial projects. Talk to department faculty in your interest areas, as well as meeting with the Internship Coordinator, before contacting any specific organization. 

Application to the History Department: In addition to the list of application materials (above), you will need a letter from your proposed supervisor indicating their willingness to have you as an intern, and outlining the work to be undertaken. This way we all agree on the nature of your internship in advance; it becomes part of your contract with the Department. (Sometimes the outline of work needs to be changed, but having a letter in advance means we can all agree to changes.) The letter works to make clear to everyone that you will be working as a historian in some way, to your host that we care about your experience, and gives us all guidelines along the way.

The department will review all grant applications. Candidates may be interviewed. The criteria for selection will be academic record, motivation, career objectives, and prior experience. The department will generally give priority to students who are History majors, who have not yet held an internship through the History Department, and who have taken Hist 299. Chosen interns will then sign a grant contract with the Department.

Register for Hist 470. Successful applicants for the internship grant will also register for the class Hist 470 (with the Internship Coordinator) for the following fall semester. You'll be submitting monthly (informal) reports to the coordinator, and then writing a paper at the end of your internship. (Exceptions: a) In the rare case that your summer does not proceed as planned, such that you end up working less than 270 hours over the summer, you will be paid accordingly, but not eligible for Hist 470 credit. If something comes up, contact the coordinator. b) If you are participating in a shorter internship, talk with the internship coordinator: earning a smaller number of credits may be possible. c) Hist 470 is a fall-only class; when off-campus study precludes this, we will make case by case arrangements.)

Requirements of the Position

  1. The intern will complete any background reading assigned by the supervisor and/or appropriate History faculty member prior to the beginning of an internship.       
  2. The holder of an internship will establish a regular schedule of work with their supervisor for 270-300 hours between June and August. Your grant is provided under contract with the History Department.     
  3. The holder of the internship should be working as an historian. (Ask if you have doubts!) 
  4. The intern will carry out all of their assignments in a timely and professional manner, including monthly reports as provided in the summer contract.
  5. A final paper (described below) must be submitted to the Internship Coordinator by September 15, 2024.


A final paper must be submitted to the Internship Coordinator by September 15, 2024. The paper will be 10-15 pages plus notes and bibliography, along with all materials produced during the internship (these may be included as appendices; in other cases, a clear set of links to webpages, uploaded photographs or sound files, and so on, can be collected through Canvas; confirm with the internship coordinator!). 

This paper should explain and assess the work of the internship in relation to what you learned in History 299, including what your assignments were over the summer; how you went about completing them (including the research methodologies involved); what problems you encountered; how you solved those problems; and what, as an historian, you learned about doing history. The grade for History 470 will be determined by the internship coordinator, on the combined basis of the quality of the work performed during the internship, the evaluation of the supervisor, and the final paper.

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