Studying history provides valuable training for careers in law, politics, communications, business, library management, museums and archives, as well as teaching at secondary schools and universities. The analytical, research, and writing skills that students develop help them in a broad range of professional settings.
For more information about the utility of a history degree, talk with your advisor or the director of undergraduate studies and consult the department's "Careers for Graduates in History" overview.
Public History Internship Program
The Public History Internship Program provides a way for University of Rochester undergraduates to gain hands-on experience in historical research, preservation, and public presentation of history at nationally recognized area museums, archives, and public agencies.
Interested students should consult with Michael Jarvis, the Department of History's Public History Internship Program supervisor, the College Center for Advising Services, and the Gwen M. Greene Career and Internship Center.
There are dozens of Greater Rochester area institutions offering internship projects in a range of fields. Past interns have done everything from giving "living history" tours on Erie Canal boats to editing Frederick Douglass's letters, from museum curatorship and artifact conservation to archaeological excavations of 19th-century homesteads.
The goal of our Public History Internship Program is to match students' professional, historical, and topical interests with the most relevant internship positions available. Many of our interns have gone on to graduate programs in museum studies, library science, historic preservation, and general history.
Internships supplement a student's academic coursework and provide valuable, real-world experience. They help students refine their research skills through direct involvement in public history as they work in a structured institutional setting. This experience enhances a resume or graduate school application by demonstrating an added level of practical professional training.
Undertaking an internship challenges students to apply what they've learned in the classroom and teach history to a broader public audience. If you have ever wondered what you can do with a history major, the Public History Program offers you the chance to try on a potential career for three months to determine if it is right for you.
Typical Internship Process
- Select an internship by looking through the department handbook.
- Choose a faculty sponsor (any full-time professor in the history department). The faculty sponsor will oversee the research portion and assessment of the internship. Evaluated work may include selected readings, a journal kept while working at the sponsoring institution, or a research paper.
- Contact the internship institution and meet with your supervisor there in advance. Some internships require you to apply for particular projects, so plan ahead.
- You, your faculty advisor, and internship supervisor fill out an Independent Study form (available at the history department office and Center for Academic Support) and submit it no later than the third week of the semester.
- You work on site for one semester (12 weeks) for 10-16 hours per week.
- Near the end of the semester you submit documentation of your internship to your faculty supervisor who will evaluate this work, speak to the on-site supervisor, and assign a letter grade (internships may also be graded pass/fail).
Finding an Internship
Internships can be in any non-clerical position with some historical research component. All internships must be unpaid and approved by a faculty advisor. Some good places to look for possible internship projects are:
- Institutional websites often post current internship projects and research needs. Consult the websites of the area museums listed below.
- The Gwen M. Greene Career and Internship Center can help you with national internships. Ask to see the academic year internship binders for more ideas on local agencies willing to sponsor internship projects.
- Find your own! Internships can be negotiated with many other agencies. Speak to a faculty member to see if it could qualify as a public history internship.
For public history internships being offered locally, visit the following links:
- Legal Aid Society of Rochester
- The Strong National Museum of Play
- Monroe County City and Town Historians
- University of Rochester’s Department of Rare Books, Special Collections, and Preservation
- New York Division of Human Rights–Rochester
- Cornhill Navigation
- Genesee Country Village and Museum
- Rochester Museum and Science Center
- Rochester Historical Society
- The Landmark Society of Western New York
- The George Eastman Museum
- Susan B. Anthony House Museum