The University of Massachusetts Amherst
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For Internship Providers

Interested in connecting your institution or history project with a current student?

UMass students often find projects for local history organizations to be productive parts of their education. Undergraduate students have completed internships in places such as the Eric Carle Museum, the Boston Globe, the Naismith Basketball Hall of Fame, Wistariahurst Museum, the W.E.B. DuBois Library Special Collections and University Archives, and the Springfield Armory. Graduate students have helped catalog museum collections, survey historic buildings, develop walking and driving tours, and design exhibits for an array of history museums, historic sites and preservation agencies around the area and the region, including Historic Deerfield, the Amherst and Hadley Historical Commissions, the Emily Dickinson Museum, and the Pocumtuck Valley Memorial Association..

There are three ways that UMass Amherst students connect with history organizations:

  • Undergraduate Internships
  • Graduate Internships
  • Field Service Projects

Which option is the best match for your organization depends on the amount of time the project needs and the skill level it demands. Most importantly, projects generally need to be scoped so that they are able to be completed within the course of the semester in which the student registers for credit.

So, how do you know which is best for your organization?

An undergraduate internship is best if…

You have a well-defined project or job that can be completed in a summer or semester (plan on about 12 weeks of work) by a student working around 6-12 hrs/week (sometimes undergraduates do seek larger experiences, but most fall in this range).  Projects appropriate for undergraduates are naturally less complex than those appropriate for graduate students preparing for careers in the field, but an undergraduate internship shouldn't be "busy work," and should instead allow students to gain new skills or expand existing abilities.  Undergraduates should work under the close direction of an internship supervisor.

A graduate internship is best if…

The experience is substantive, and results in a tangible product the student can show potential future employers.  It is also important that the intern will be supervised by a professional with expertise in the work to be completed.  Preferably, the host organization can provide some compensation for the student’s time; while we are happy to present to our studentsany opportunity that seems substantive and well designed, for obvious reasons most students prefer to find internships that are compensated.  Institutions should also consider other assets that they can offer to prospective interns as well, in order to attract student interest. For instance, can you incorporate into your planning time to shadow various members of your organizations, so that the student learns about the bigger picture beyond the work being accomplished in the internship? Can the student be involved in meetings or conferences, to gain insight into larger issues beyond their projects?  For more on how to craft the best internships for emerging professionals, see the New England Museum Association document Redefining the Internship.

Because this is a substantive element of our students' degree requirements, it is guided by a fairly detailed agreement between the student, the history organization, and the History Department.  To see a sample contract, click here.

A field service project is best if…

The project is smaller and could be completed by a team of 3-4 students working a couple of hours a week over approximately twelve weeks.  For a syllabus that describes some sample projects, click here.

How to Proceed

If you have a project you'd like to discuss, please send a description of what you have in mind to the public history graduate program,, or to our undergraduate internship coordinator,