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.
Senate and House Legislative Offices Internships—Massachusetts; Many States
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.