History Internship Tips

History internships can be among the most fascinating, rewarding and exciting of any academic science. Interns in this field can participate in major discoveries, important new research and helping historians uncover the truths of the world’s past.

History internships are purpose built for their position holders, who are usually avid trainee historians, and who often bring their own extensive knowledge to the internships. The work usually involves research and/or publication of the findings of research, the basic training ground of professional historians.

Note: This article deals with college level internships only. Some institutions provide trainee/summer camp level internships, which are good basic training and valuable introductions into the field of historical study. It’s suggested those interested at the introductory level contact their local college or museum for further information regarding these internships.

Finding History Internships

The best and most efficient method of finding the history internship in your area of interest is to directly contact historians and history societies in that field regarding suitability. In the United States, there are many important institutions and foundations which conduct regular internships, including the Smithsonian, NASA, The National Museum of American History and other highly reputable organizations. These are also excellent professional sources of information which can rapidly narrow down your search to your special areas of interest.

The Internship iIterview

This interview will usually be a specialist, technically focused interview, conducted at graduate level. The internship provider requires an intern with excellent core skills.

Depending on subject and the nature of the internship, the interview will involve:

  • Source materials
  • Research skills
  • Archive systems and practices
  • Museum exhibits and record systems
  • Library sources
  • Data management
  • Publications
  • Technical writing skills
  • Knowledge base in the area of study

The internship provider’s previous work will give a detailed history of these topics which will be very helpful in preparing for the interview. Historians document their work extensively, and these are by far the most reliable sources of information and background knowledge. These sources provide a virtual map of the work and methodologies involved in the internship.

It’s advisable to discuss with the provider in depth the exact nature of the internship. Ask for specific information regarding the expected levels of skills required. Professional historians can provide excellent information for applicants, allowing you to focus on the position’s tasks and functions. 

The Internship Role

Internships may include:

  • Actual on site research
  • Archive searching and information collection
  • Data management
  • Liaison with experts in the field of research
  • Finding source materials
  • Collating research sources and materials
  • Pre-production working on publication materials
  • Technical writing skills
  • Knowledge base in the area of study

Any of these roles may involve an enormous amount of work. Archives work alone can involve huge quantities of information which have to be sorted and organized into useful forms. Some internships may also involve travel, working with the research team on location, or traveling through the university circuits of the world.

The Value of History Internships

As professional experience, the history internships provide a complete experience for aspiring historians, involving all the technical processes of the science which writes the story of humanity. Your history internship can be the start a true voyage of discovery, and the start of a career which may take you around the world.