Most people who study history use the skills they acquire in other fields. A summer internship gives you the opportunity to learn how your ability to do research, analyze information, and write clearly are useful in the professions. Start exploring early - some competitive internships have fall application dates. The guidelines for letters of recommendation on the Public History Internships page apply here, also.
Public Service Internships and Summer Opportunities
One of the most popular and successful fields History majors enter is public service. Public service covers a wide range of sectors, such as health, the arts, government, international relations, education, and more. The research, writing, and analytical skills you develop as a history major you a desirable candidate for these positions.
If you are a first or second-year student, starting with volunteer opportunities or internships with local government councils and policy-related organizations can better prepare you for an internship with a national or international agency. Many competitive placements are located in Washington, D.C. and are paid, and unpaid opportunities can be funded through Lynk.
Because there are a wide range of opportunities working for the local, federal, and state government, here are a few starting points for searching for internships or opportunities. At the bottom of the page are recommended search engines to conduct broad searches for internships in public policy.
Domestic Public Service
Pathways Program—Many Departments and Sectors
The Pathways Program is an intentional process for current students and recent graduates to begin a federal career through an internship or entry-level position within a federal agency or sector. These internships include departments like the Federal Bureau Investigation, Department of State, U.S. Park Service, and more. For current students, these internships are paid and are either full or part-time positions. Successful interns may occasionally be converted to a permanent position after completing program requirements. Searching “Internship” or “Pathways Internship” on the USAJobs website can yield results among various fields.
These internships give students practical experience within government offices and a look into the day-to-day work of a State Senator, Representative, or Committee. The summer program with the Massachusetts legislature offers an 8-week, bi-partisan series of lectures by legislators, advocates, senators, and agency secretaries. Checking your home state’s Legislative website can generate more opportunities as well, since some applications are only accepted from residents or students studying within the state.
Governor’s Office Internship Program—Many States
For domestic students, your home state most likely has internship openings for undergraduates in the governor’s office. These opportunities provide insight into the world of the governor, involving the Office’s relationship and work in legislative affairs, with other political offices, and with constituents. Some internships are found under specific programs, such as Washington state’s Governor’s Leadership Academy, an internship program with placements in many different offices.
Specifically, the Massachusetts Governor’s Office offers internships during the summer and semester breaks for current undergraduate students who have completed at least one semester of college. These internships are unpaid and students are responsible for finding housing. The program offered through the Office of the Governor of Iowa is fairly similar as well.
Nuestras Raíces—Holyoke, MA
A grassroots non-profit organization working on “agricultural development,” Nuestras Raíces helps connect and building community in Holyoke through community gardens. Started by Puerto Rican immigrants with backgrounds in agriculture, the organization seeks change in Holyoke through connecting the community’s roots with the city. Internships cover needs in urban forestry, workshops coordinating, grant writing assistance, sit maintenance, CSA/field work, and more.
HAPHousing Inc.—Springfield, MA
HAPHousing is a non-profit based out of Springfield that seeks to prevent and end homelessness in Western Massachusetts through a holistic approach to housing and homeownership. Currently, HAP is looking for interns in social media and resource development, with an interest in urban development, stabilizing housing. Interns should be available to start immediately and through the summer months, and provide a minimum commitment of 10 hours a week.
The National Priorities Project—Northampton, MA
The National Priorities Project is a non-profit, non-partisan research organization whose mission is to make the national budget transparent to the public. The organization offers semester and summer-long internships at its Northampton office. Internships are unpaid, unless a student has federal work-study funds. Internship positions include placements in Development, Research, Graphic Design, Video Production, and Outreach.
American Civil Liberties Union Undergraduate Internships—NYC and Washington, D.C.
The American Civil Liberties Union offers internships in various projects, including LGBTQ rights, national security, human rights, racial justice and more. A modest stipend can be given to students who do not receive course credit or outside funding. Decisions are made on a rolling process, so applicants are encouraged to apply to openings as soon as they are published on ACLU’s website.
National Women’s Law Center—Washington, D.C.
The National Women’s Law Center offers various types of unpaid internships to students interested in law or advocacy in subjects related to women’s and girl’s rights in the United States. Students interested in would preferably be available to work full-time hours during the summer. You do not need to be a Law studies student to apply.
International Public Service Internships
Knowledge of a world area and language make a History major a qualified candidate for serving organizations abroad or agencies covering international affairs and relations. Listed below are opportunities related to international relations and placements abroad.
MHC International Internship Program (MHC-IIP)--Various Locations
The MHC International Internship Program (MHC-IIP) offers competitive internship places in Africa, Asia, Europe and North and South America. Many of these internships involve work with UNICEF, in addition to a diverse array of NGOs. History majors interested in conducting research and work abroad are encouraged to apply, especially because they have substantial skills and knowledge through their coursework in a specific region. It is important to read the instructions for the IIP placements, since they involve multiple deadlines and meetings with the Director of International Experiential Learning. For a detailed description of applying, visit the application guidelines page.
U.S. Department of State Student Internship Program--Domestic and International Locations
The U.S. Department of State offers unpaid positions throughout the year (semester and summer-long) in various bureaus and offices, domestic and abroad, to U.S. citizens. Not all bureaus or offices provide positions every semester, and various clearances should be approved before start dates are negotiated. Deadlines for the summer are in November, so it is important to check in September for the open application. To find out about openings, it is helpful to subscribe to the email updates. Even when there are no advertised positions available, have applications ready to go when opportunities are announced—some openings with the State Department will cap the number of applications after an announcement is made.
Embassies and Consulates Internship Programs—Various Locations, National and International
Searching various embassies that pertain to your field of study (located in the United States or abroad) can generate opportunities in administrative or research support. Many require proficiency to near-fluency of the country’s language(s). Some embassies, such as the Embassy of Japan (in Washington, D.C.), have internships open to American citizens, while others require the country’s citizenship or dual citizenship. Check individual embassy or consulate websites for requirements.
Carter Center Internship Program—Atlanta, GA
The Carter Center offers internships year round in three program areas: Peace, Health and Operational programs. Within the Peace program areas, interns support staff in the Americas, China, Conflict Resolution, Democracy, the Global Access to Information Initiative, and the Human Rights programs by researching important themes, countries and issues pertaining to the projects, as well as providing logistical support.
The Peacekeeping and Stability Operations Institute (PKSOI) at the U.S. Army War College—Carlisle, PA
PKSOI is the U.S. Army’s “think tank” to study peace operations and combat, with researchers studying and publishing work on U.N. Peacekeeping operations, the State department, USAID work and more. Interns will work closely with a researcher, assisting with the mentor’s research and other tasks. History major AnneElizabeth Konkel recently interned at PKSOI working on Dr. Bryson’s book, Muslims Countering Extremism, and has shared her internship experience.
Council on Foreign Relations—Washington, D.C. and New York City
Volunteer internship positions are offered year-round in both the New York and Washington, D.C. offices. The internships range from geopolitics, Middle East studies, women and foreign policy, to health, the environment and communications and meetings.
Global Fund for Women—San Francisco, CA
The Global Fund for Women is a philanthropic organization that gives grants to women globally, investing in human rights and empowerment for women and girls. Internships are offered during the summer, based on their availability. To find open positions, check the website’s Job board throughout the spring or earlier.
Middle East Institute Leadership Development Internship Program—Washington, D.C.
The Middle East Institute has full and part-time positions during the semester and summer sessions. Though unpaid, students are reimbursed for travel around the D.C. area, and given many benefits (language classes, workshops, subscription to the Middle East Journal, and more). Preferred candidates are undergraduate students with strong backgrounds in Middle Eastern studies that pertain to the work of the Institute’s scholars, and knowledge of a related Middle East language. Applications for summer internships are in March.
Business and Industry Internships and Summer Opportunities
The History student’s ability to conduct research, analyze large bodies of information, and develop solutions can prepare the student for a career business or industry fields such as architecture and urban planning, technology, and more. Building experience in business industry sectors outside of classes can help create a more complete skill set in preparation for a career after graduation.
Fullbridge XBA in Business Fundamentals—Mount Holyoke College
This program, funded in part by Mount Holyoke Lynk, is recommended for rising juniors and seniors interested in building a strong toolkit for understanding the world of business.
Koru Careers—Seattle, WA or San Francisco, CA
Koru is an innovative start-up that has partnered with various colleges, including Mount Holyoke, to develop and coach rising seniors and recent graduates in successful industry practices and skills.
Aetna Undergraduate Summer Internships—Various Locations
A healthcare company, Aetna interns are place in many different departments, from financial and insurance offices to legal offices. The positions are paid, and provide a well-established introduction to the intersection of healthcare and business. Current sophomores and juniors are eligible to apply (though some positions seek seniors or recent graduates).
Travelers Insurance—Hartford, CT; Various locations when available
At Travelers Insurance, interns are placed in offices such as Actuarial and Analytics, Human Resources, Information Technology, Underwriting, Operations, and more. Interns will receive training and development through workshops and speaker forums, and are paid at an hourly rate.
The Hartford Operations Leadership Development Program—Hartford, CT; Windsor, CT; Simsbury, CT
The Hartford Financial Services Group is based out of Hartford, CT and runs various internship programs in the summer. The Operations Leadership Development Program serves as a pipeline from internship to full employment, with a comprehensive program in business operations and management. The program is very competitive, but offers a benefits package, performance pay, and more for a 40-hour, 10-week program.
Department of City Planning—Pittsburgh, PA
Pittsburgh’s Department of City Planning offers internship positions across offices and projects ranging from city bicycle plan implementation, open space planning, ADA compliance, city forestry and more. Some positions require class work pertaining to urban development, architecture, or planning, and familiarity with GIS or analysis techniques.
NYC Department of City Planning—New York City, New York
New York City’s department of city planning has internships for undergraduate students interested in public policy and urban planning. Proficiency in geography/GIS, AutoCAD, and other technical tools might be required for some placements. Students can spend 6-10 weeks at their internships conducting research for various projects, collecting data, and creating presentations for the Community and City Planning Commission. Listings for other city agencies in New York can be found on this website.
George Washington’s Mount Vernon GIS Summer Internship—Mt. Vernon, Virginia
For the summer of 2014, the Mount Vernon estate is looking for an undergraduate student with an interest in historic preservation and experience working with GIS to conduct a plantation landscape survey. It is a 10-week internship, with a $3500 compensation given to the intern.
Education and Policy Internships and Summer Opportunities
An interest in education also extends to public and private policies on education and access. From summer camps to policy non-profits, there are many ways to explore the field of education, whether it pertains to youth reading programs, college achievement, adult literacy and more. The internships and volunteer opportunities below can help you gain teaching and mentoring experience, apply research skills and methods, and contextualize current policies through your knowledge of history.
Homework House—Holyoke, MA
A non-profit organization based in Holyoke, Homework House helps children from kindergarten through 6th grade in various classroom subjects through free after-school tutoring. Many Mount Holyoke students volunteer through CBL and C.A.U.S.E. organizations once a week for two hours. A commitment of 3 months or a semester from students is ideal.
High Rocks Educational Corporation—Hillsboro, West Virginia
High Rocks for Girls is a non-profit organization building empowerment for young women in the Appalachian Mountains. Interns run workshops for the young girls and become positive role roles for the young girls through an alternative education camp in the summer. History major Brooke Huynh recently completed a summer internship with High Rocks, and recommends the opportunity.
Girls Leadership Institute—South Hadley, MA ; Oakland, CA
The Girls Leadership Institute provides an overnight summer camp for young girls to building leadership skills at Mount Holyoke College. Students can work at the camp as residential counselors. In addition, there are internships and volunteer opportunities at the Institute’s Oakland, California office.
The Minority Access Inc. is a non-profit with a “mission is to assist colleges and universities, the Federal Government and agencies of other governments and corporations of all kinds in implementing programs and providing services to recruit, enhance and retain underserved and underrepresented populations.” The internship program focuses on pre-professional training. Internships are open to all U.S. citizens currently enrolled full-time as an undergraduate or graduate. Interns are provided a weekly stipend, but the student pays for transportation. Housing is also found through placements by the organization, but the cost of housing is deducted from the stipend.
Department of Education Internships—Washington, D.C.
Interns are matched to the department’s offices according to skills and interests. Projects that interns have worked on include legal issues, policy analysis and evaluation, media and communications, legislative affairs, and more.
The Education Trust Internship Program—Washington, D.C.
The Education Trust, a non-profit organization, seeks to serve students (especially those from minority groups) with research and advocacy. The mission of the Trust is to influence federal education policy to close achievement gaps among young people. Interns are sought in various departments, and are expected to work closely with staff in order to execute projects. Internship positions are typically paid according to the student’s experience and education.
The Smithsonian Institutions Internship Opportunities in Education Departments—Various Locations and Museums
The Smithsonian’s various museums and research centers have internships open in a wide range of departments, including Education. For example, the interns working within the Freer-Sackler Museums of Asian Art education department become involved with public programs through work with exhibitions and sharing knowledge with various visiting audiences. At the National Museum of African American History and Culture, interns with the Education project can find themselves assisting staff with student and teacher programs, publications, and exhibition research. Many of these museums are in the Washington, D.C. area, but the Smithsonian has partnerships with various museums nationwide.
Friends of the Morrill Homestead Summer Education and Programming Internship—Strafford, Vermont
This internship blends non-profit management, historical preservation, architecture and horticulture, and educational programs through the Victorian-era property once owned by Senator Justin Morrill. Interns will help develop educational programs and exhibits, conduct tours, assist in children’s art camps, and create an online library, among many other tasks. The deadline to apply for this Summer 2014 opportunity is April 15.
Journalism, Broadcasting, and Publishing Opportunities
A career in journalism can intersect with interests in fields such as politics, public policy, the arts, education, international affairs, and more. While History majors develop their writing skills and command of research tools through coursework, experiences at various news agencies will support the skills needed to become a writer or correspondent. Increasingly, skillful use of social media and establishing an online presence can also benefit a resume or portfolio sent to future employers. To begin a career in journalism, demonstrating a portfolio of writing in news outlets can lead to nationally or internationally syndicated news agencies. Involvement in the school newspaper is sometimes a “must” for various programs as well.
Many local newspapers or media outlets might not advertise interns on their websites. It is best to contact them personally and explain your interests in developing an opportunity. Below are some media agencies that have developed internship programs. Some listed below have “volunteer” pages, which can potentially lead to an internship of your design.
Opportunities in New England
New England Public Radio—Amherst, MA
NEPR offers 15 paid internships to students from the Five Colleges (a stipend of $10 an hour) during the semester and summer sessions. Internships are offered in the News, Production, Marketing, and Audiofiles departments, allowing interns a range of experiences in writing or broadcasting.
Amherst Media/Amherst Community Television—Amherst, MA
Amherst Media “is a dynamic, community driven, non-profit, public access information, communication & technology center” that provides public access, education and government television channels from Amherst. Interns during the semester or summer can work in departments such as Production, Social Media, Programming, and Citizen Journalism. In addition, interns are invited to take free workshops and classes on tools such as Final Cut. Work-study students are encouraged to apply to paid positions during the year.
Media Education Foundation—Northampton, MA
The MEF produces and distributes documentary films and educational resources right here in the Valley, “to inspire critical thinking about the social, political, and cultural impact of American mass media.” Students can gain skills in production and marketing/administration, assisting on the projects of distributing films by the Media Education Foundation.
Flying Object—Hadley, MA
The Flying Object is a nonprofit art and publishing organization, hosting residencies, lecture, performances, workshops, exhibitions and more. A “studio-laboratory and archive,” the organization also runs a print and online magazine, and produces limited and trade editions of artists’ poetry, audio recordings, books and more. Students can take part in many projects the organization takes on by writing a letter outlining one’s interests.
Valley Free Radio—Northampton, MA
Valley Free Radio is an all volunteer-run, low-powered radio station broadcasted from Northampton. Students interested in working with the station can begin helping in marketing, broadcasting, fundraising and outreach by emailing the volunteer coordinator. Opportunities to host one’s own radio show through the station are also available (preferably if the show host can commit 6 months).
A new local magazine, Pioneer is a free monthly publication focusing on the politics, life, arts, and culture of the Pioneer Valley. The magazine occasionally seeks editorial board members, and has open calls for submissions by new writers.
National and International Opportunities
New York Times Summer Internship—New York, New York
A paid internship program, the New York Times offers various types of positions in video, copy editing, reporting, interactive work(web development), and visual media. The program is competitive and recruits mostly seniors and graduate students, but qualified juniors are accepted in some departments.
Congressional Quarterly [The Economist Group]—Washington, D.C.
The Congressional Quarterly publishes many newspapers, magazines, websites, and books such as The Economist and CQPolitics, CQHomeland Security, and more. Interns are expected to conduct research and work on pieces with staff, covering committee markups and hearings, and attending policy events around D.C. The internships are highly competitive, but are paid and offer many opportunities at building a professional career in journalism.
Internews Network—Washington, D.C.
Internews is a non-profit international organization that supports local media and news networks in countries around the world. Internships are often located in Washington, D.C., and involve a wide range of duties such as research, reporting, coordinating events, communications, and more.
AllAfrica—Washington, D.C.; Cape Town, South Africa; Dakar, Senegal; and Monrovia, Liberia
AllAfrica is a media outlet sharing the news of over 130 African news organizations alongside their own reporting. Occasionally, internships are available within their global offices. Internships are unpaid, but placements have occasionally led to employment. Fluency in French is not required except for a placement in Dakar.
Environment America—Various Locations Nationwide
Environment America is a federation of state based and citizen funded organizations promoting environmental action and protection across the United States. Interns can work from various locations (including Amherst, MA), and learn about problems like global warming and fracking. Students will becoming involved in campaigns and learn about the legal work done to promote environmental justice, canvas and building community networks and support, and promote Environment America issues through media writing.
If any of the internships above do not match your interests, or application deadlines have closed, conducting a broad search of newspapers and publications you enjoy reading can generate more ideas. Another place to check for a broad search is Cubreporters: its blog maintains posting for (mostly paid) internships nationwide. [http://blog.cubreporters.org/search/label/paid_internship]
For even more options, visit UMASS Amherst’s Journalism resource page, it lists many places that might fall in your interests.
Law and Legal Services Internships
One of the main jobs of a historian is to analyze evidence from various sources and viewpoints and construct an argument based on the available materials. A career in law is therefore a logical path chosen by History majors, especially as legal work intersects with domestic and international issues. Many non-profit organizations, businesses, policy agencies, and court systems look for students with the ability to analyze and interpret information for legal purposes. Here are a few positions that History majors should consider.
Umoja Now Internship Program—Holyoke, MA
A Burundian-based non-profit organization, Umoja Now ( meaning “Unity”) seeks to end sexual and gender based violence through law, policy, social work and development. The Law and Policy internship involves interns conducting research and writing about legal and policy issues in Burundi. This internship can be completed remotely.
The Massachusetts Fair Housing Center serves to enforce fair housing laws through research, education, and legally defending those who have discriminated against for housing. Legal interns will assist attorneys and legal advocates through research on discrimination complaints, preparing outreach materials, and more. Summer interns are expected to commit 30-35 hours per week, and semester or winter break positions are also available.
Massachusetts Court System Internships—Boston, Massachusetts
The Massachusetts Court system occasionally has internships with the various courts: the Supreme Judicial Court, Appeals Court and Trial Courts (Juvenile, Housing, District, etc.). Local department heads should be contacted for the possibility of an unpaid internship, and letters of interest for interning in the Supreme Judicial Court can be held for up to 3 months.
Supreme Court of the United State Judicial Internship Program—Washington, D.C.
The Judicial Internship Programs is an unpaid, competitive opportunity for students and recent graduates to study the non-adjudicative responsibilities of the Chief Justice. Interns will conduct background research for briefings, summarize relevant news articles, support the Office of the Counselor, and draft correspondence. This internship is recommended for students interested in becoming practicing attorneys.
American Bar Foundation Montgomery Summer Research Diversity Fellowship—Chicago, Illinois
The American Bar Foundation offers a competitive fellowship to (rising) sophomores and juniors “American citizens and lawful permanent residents including, but not limited to, persons who are African American, Hispanic/Latino, Asian, Native American, or Puerto Rican, as well as other individuals who will add diversity to the field of law and social science.” Interns will be assigned to an ABF research professor and work closely with his or her project, as well as attend seminars and field visits to acquaint the student in social research and the legal system. Students are also paid a stipend. Check in the fall and early winter for the call for summer applications (previous deadline was in mid-February).
Lawyers Without Borders—Various Locations
Lawyers Without Borders offers Under the “View Opportunities”webpage, students can find U.S. and international internships with various organizations (paid or unpaid). Under “Internships,” the Lawyers Without Borders organization itself hosts its own semester-long, summer, and January term internships. The Job board on LWOB website occasionally posts fellowships suitable for seniors with strong backgrounds and interests in Law/International Law.
National Women’s Law Center—Washington, D.C.
Offers various types of internships to students interested in law or advocacy in subjects related to women’s and girl’s rights in the United States. Students interested in positions with the National Women’s Law Center must apply through a substantial application process, and preferably would be available to work full-time hours during the summer. Positions are also unpaid.
Asian American Advancing Justice Internship Programs—Washington, D.C.
Undergraduate students and law students are encouraged to participate in unpaid positions with the Asian American Advancing Justice-AAJC organization. Interns will work on numerous tasks such as: conducting research projects on issues affecting the Asian Pacific American community; writing legislative alerts, press releases, and newsletter articles; attending Congressional hearings, and more. There is an opportunity to complete a position with flexible dates. Member Asian Americans Advancing Justice in Chicago and Los Angeles occasionally have summer opportunities (internships or volunteer); contact them through their websites for more information.
International Law Institute—Washington, D.C.
A not-for-profit organization founded in 1955, the International Law Institute provides legal training to international government officials and legal and business professionals and scholars. Internships are offered in various departments on a rolling admission basis throughout the year. Students interested in international law, international economics, and development issues are encouraged to apply.