For undergraduates

What is an internship?

According to the University at Albany’s Internship Handbook, an internship is a form of experiential education.  It is “a partnership between an undergraduate student and an employer to provide supervised practical work experience that complements the student’s academic program. An internship must have a learning component with clearly defined projects and learning goals that draw on the knowledge and skills in the classroom.  An internship must be relevant in some way to the student’s academic major.  When done for academic credit, an internship becomes a three-way partnership between the student, employer, and academic department.”

Who is eligible to earn credit at a history internship?

According to the University at Albany’s Internship Handbook, the following criteria must be met:

  • Junior or senior standing (in other words, at least 56 graduation credits);
  • A cumulative GPA of at least 2.5;
  • A history faculty supervisor who approves of the internship as being relevant to the history major.

How do I find out about internships in history?

First, think about the kind of history-focused work you might enjoy doing and the skills you’ve gained as a history major. You may find yourself seeking internship opportunities at museums, national park sites, archives, historic properties, libraries, local history centers, genealogical societies and such, or perhaps at law offices, government agencies, radio and television production companies, oral history centers, museum exhibition companies, and costume design shops. 

You should also consider where you will be living during the internship period – if it’s during the school year, you may need to look locally.  If you spend the summers in New York City, you might want to look there. If you have friends or relatives with whom you might reside, you might seek opportunities in their cities.

We will be posting some ideas for potential internship sites soon.  In the meantime, use the internet, go to the sites of institutions and organizations in which you’re interested, and look for an “internship” link in their human resources section.  Ask other students where they've interned, and be sure to also check in with your professors and advisers.

How should I apply?

Before you apply, you'll need to find a history faculty member to work with, and together discuss whether or not the opportunity is relevant to the history major.  From there, an internship application is like a job application: it requires research, organization, and attention to detail. To be successful, be sure that:

  • You have read and clearly understand the internship posting, if any;
  • You have done some research and have a clear understanding of what the employer does (ideally, you'll also seek information about the people with whom you'll be meeting and possibly working, using such resources as Google, LinkedIn, and Facebook);
  • Your résumé is accurate and up to date, and it highlights your qualifications for the internship to which you're applying.  Some resources for writing a good résumé can be found here: UAlbany Career Services;
  • Your cover letter is written specifically in response to the opportunity posted, and describes clearly and succinctly why you're a strong candidate for the opportunity.  A generic cover letter is not likely to be successful.  Some resources for writing a good cover letter can be found here; UAlbany Career Services.

Also, check back here from time to time.  The History Department periodically runs internship workshops.

How many credits?

A general rule of thumb is that one internship credit is a minimum of about 40 hours of work; this is currently being reviewed by the department.  A 3-credit internship, therefore, would be 120 hours.  That could mean 10 weeks full time over the summer, or 10 hours a week over the course of a semester.  This may vary depending on the internship; talk to your adviser or professor for details.

How do I get credit?

Internships should be set up as soon as possible during or after the advising period prior to the start of the internship.  Any history faculty member can oversee an internship, or students can go to the history department’s undergraduate director, the department chair, or to the faculty member overseeing internships for that semester. 

With the faculty member’s approval, the student enrolls in a section of HIS 499 (1-3 credits), “Special Projects in History.” This may be repeated for up to six credits total.  In approving the internship, the faculty member may ask for a letter from the employer before the internship, and/or may want a report on the internship from the student and the student’s immediate supervisor.

What other forms of experiential education are available?

Juniors or seniors majoring in history are permitted to earn 2-4 credits (S/U) in HIS 497, Independent Study in History, with consent of a faculty member and the department’s director of undergraduate studies.

Students may also seek permission to earn 1-3 credits (S/U) in HIS 499, Special Projects in History, choosing to work independently (with close faculty supervision) on a media-based history project.  HIS 499 may be repeated for credit, with a total of 6 credits earned through an independent project, an internship, or some combination of both.

Additionally, students may contact the University’s Community & Public Service Program for community service (or service learning) opportunities.  Lastly, students may elect to simply volunteer, donating time to an organization or effort in a non-internship, non-community-service capacity.