Internships for History Majors
While internships are not a requirement for the major, the history department strongly encourages all history majors to complete at least one internship while at Dickinson, either over the summer or during the academic year. Internships allow students to explore their own interests and to expand their skills outside the classroom while applying what they have learned in their Dickinson history classes in practical settings. They can also bring the insights gained back to their Dickinson classrooms to enhance and deepen their academic study of history. When our majors graduate, they go on to a whole host of opportunities, and the choice of internships can reflect those individual paths.
Why Do An Internship?
There are many reasons to do an internship, but let us highlight three: 1) an internship can give you valuable information about jobs and about what skills are necessary for specific jobs; 2) just like with classes here at Dickinson, an internship can teach you about yourself – it can show you what you’re good at or not and what you love to do or not; 3) internships give you experiences that can help you get another internship or a job.
When Should You Look?
The timing for finding and applying for internships depends on when you have the time to do an internship. Would it work better for you during the summer or during the school year? And if it’s during the school year, would it be better in the fall or spring?
If it’s for the summer, then it would be good to begin looking over the Winter break and during the start of spring semester. If you are looking for an internship for the summer and at home, maybe Winter break would allow you to discover what organizations or institutions are nearby – is there a historical society or museum or maybe a law firm? If you want to do an internship during the school year, then it’s best to start in the previous semester (so spring semester for fall and fall semester for spring.)
Some internships allow you to apply at any time, but many of them have deadlines which you should note.
How To Begin Looking?
One good place to start is with the Advising, Internship and Career Center, either by looking at the on-line offerings or visiting in person. Staff there can help you put together a resume and prepare for interviews. You can also get an account on Handshake and then familiarize yourself with what it has to offer – Handshake lists all sorts of opportunities and might lead you to alumni who are willing to help. You could consider doing an informational interview where you simply ask questions about a type of job or the pathway to get into certain jobs or careers.
Thinking About Your Resume and How to Highlight or Explain Your Skills
Many internship applications will ask for a resume or ask for information that could be on your resume. So it’s good to write a resume as you begin looking for an internship. The Career Center provides workshops and samples to get you started. As you create or edit your resume, focus on language that highlights skills developed in history classes. For instance, have you worked with primary sources or used the College archives for research? Or have you been developing stronger writing skills, etc. It’s always good to have people review your resume including having a history professor look at it.
Once you have completed an internship, think carefully about the skills it involved and how to add those to your resume. Having one internship behind you will certainly give you things to refer to on future internship applications and in interviews.
Eventually, you may develop a couple different versions of your resume if you’re applying for different types of internships, jobs or fellowships. For example, some positions might want to know more about your leadership skills or community outreach while others might be more interested in your research skills. Often you can just rearrange what you have to put the most important categories or listings up front for a particular application.
Places to Apply
You should not hesitate to consider places around your home area and smaller institutions, especially at an historical society or museum – but you might also consider community programs or educational bodies. You can also use Handshake with a variety of keywords (don’t just put in “history,” especially since you might have other interests, or internships might not be classified under history).
You can also download this list of Internships History Majors Have Done for ideas.
Should I do an internship in the summer or during the school year?
The answer to that depends on whatever else you have planned. Consider how heavy your course load will be during any one semester, or whether you have a specific job in mind for the summer. You may need to earn a certain amount of money in the summer and an internship may or may not get you that amount – although it might be good to at least look and see. Doing an internship during a semester would mean finding something close to campus, but there are some possibilities on campus or in Carlisle.
Can I do an internship while studying abroad?
Yes, history majors have done internships in places like Norwich, Bologna and Dublin. The key would be to try to plan ahead and to get some help from the Global Study and Engagement office or your advisor. For the Dickinson programs, our on-site directors can also help you think through what sort of internship might interest you and might have some suggestions for contacting organizations. It may be easier to establish a connection if you are in a place for a full year or are comfortable with the local language, but even for a semester program there are often possibilities.
If I find an unpaid internship, can I get financial support from Dickinson?
While some internships are unpaid, students can apply for Dickinson funding for many summer internships. See the Summer Internship Funding page for the application and deadlines:
Should I do the Internship Notation Program?
The Internship Notation Program (INP) allows you to have your internship documented on your transcript. It is run through the College’s Internship office which provides structure and assistance – the Internship office insures that internships provide significant experiences.
For the INP, internships must be a minimum of 8 weeks and 80 hours over the course of a single summer or semester and must be registered and approved ahead of time. If you did an internship without pre-approval, it could certainly appear on your resume, but not on your transcript. Students who do the Internship Notation program also set out learning objectives, do a mid-internship report and complete a survey after the internship once it’s complete to help them reflect on their experience.
More information about the INP is available here.