Why Consider an Internship?
Internships complement academic training and expose students to valuable and practical new experiences by providing instruction beyond the classroom. Hands-on training under the close tutelage of a mentor helps shape personal, educational and professional goals. Internships afford students the opportunity to meet with proven leaders in their fields, establishing valuable contacts and networking opportunities vital to a future career. Internship experience also enhances the curriculum vitae and/or resume, strengthening a prospective job applicant’s qualifications. Upon successful completion of an internship many supervisors provide effective letters of recommendation. In some cases, internships lead to full time positions within the organization. The Baltimore-Washington area offers unique opportunities for internships unmatched anywhere else in the United States. Institutions featuring local and broader topics in art, media, education, museums, government service, libraries and archives are readily accessible to UMBC students. A selected list of internship resources can be found here.
How Do I Earn Academic Credit For an Internship?
Both Graduate and Undergraduate students may earn up to 3 credits for an internship. M.A. students in the Public History Track are required to complete a 3 credit internship. All internships are graded as Pass/Fail. In order to earn a passing grade, all interns are expected to work for 40 hours per academic credit (that means 120 hours for a three credit internship) and to work on a significant project that meets a need at the internship host institution. Registration for HIST 790 (the graduate internship) or HIST 391 (the undergraduate internship) requires pre-approval from a History Department faculty advisor, and faculty must approve the internship project before a student can register. To obtain faculty approval, students must complete the Internship Contract Form before beginning an assignment. The form contains detailed information about what students must accomplish in order to earn a passing grade. The Internship Contract Form is here.
How Do I Get an Internship?
Generally, students should talk to their advisor and begin looking for an internship opportunity several months prior to a desired start date. This article offers excellent advice and some links to help you get started. The UMBC Shriver Center is also a good source for possibilities. Some organizations offering internships require an application form (often available for download at their web site). Many positions also require a writing sample. A number of federal organizations require background security checks that have long lead times, so applying early is crucial.Many organizations receive fewer applications for fall and spring than summer. Fall and spring sessions generally allow interns a more substantive role in their assigned offices due to the longer length of stay. Additional resources for finding an internship:
- Smithsonian Opportunities for Research and Study. Office of Fellowships and Grants, Smithsonian Institution
- PreserveNet Internship Directory
- National Council on Public History
- Student Internship Programs with the Federal Government
What Does an Intern Do?
Once accepted into an organization, you will be introduced to your area of responsibility. History-related internships are often interdisciplinary, so you can expect to be involved in many of the functions integral to the organization’s daily operations. As an intern, you may have the opportunity to:
- conduct academic research
- create finding aids
- write analytical reports
- catalog primary documents
- attend meetings and conferences
- develop interpretive talks
- plan events, coordinate conferences
- answer research queries
- prepare brochures and educational materials
- update web sites
- monitor current events
- serve as a tour guide
Are Interns Paid?
Some internships do offer a stipend, but many are unpaid positions. Non-funded interns can seek funding from outside the prospective organization.