History 680/880

HIST 680: Archives or Historical Agency Internship (Units 1-6)

Internship with an archive or other historical agency. Development of knowledge, experience, and training in archival or historical agency work. May be repeated for a total of 6 units (CSL may be available).

  • Prerequisites

    • Upper-division History majors
    • GE Area E
    • Consent of the instructor
    • Permission of the department chair


HIST 880: Archives or Historical Agency Internship (Units 3-4)

Internship with an archive or other historical agency. Development of knowledge, experience and training in archival or historical agency work.

  • Prerequisites 

    • Graduate standing in History
    • Consent of the department chair.





While there are no course prerequisites for enrollment in History 680/880 beyond that which apply to all upper division courses or graduate courses, the department will not assign a student to an internship if the student lacks the necessary background to do well in the assignment. Appropriate preparation for an internship will vary from one assignment to another, but in most circumstances, undergraduate students should be at least second semester juniors and should have taken some courses relevant to the position they seek.  The research methodologies taught in History 300 are necessary for nearly all assignments.  Graduate students should have completed History 700.  Other useful courses for typical internships include History 450, 426, 427, and 428.  All students must have a 3.0 GPA in their major field.

There are three sets of requirements for the internship:    

  1. Work in an historical agency, at least eight hours per week for fifteen weeks, or a total of 120 hours over the semester. 
  2. Several meetings with the internship coordinator, at two to three week intervals during the semester.
  3. All interns must have an e-mail account and participate in e-mail discussions with the coordinator and other interns.   
  4. A 10-20 page paper describing their experiences and a sample of the work that they produced during the internship.

A work experience is at the heart of History 680/880.  Everything else is designed to make that experience as meaningful as possible.  The three people central to the work experience are: the intern, a student who receives academic credit for working at an historical agency; the on-site supervisor, a person in a position of responsibility at an historical agency who has agreed to supervise an intern (On-site supervisors are not paid by the university but instead donate their time to the program) and the internship coordinator, a faculty member in the Department of History who assists students in locating appropriate agencies for an internship experience, contacts agencies to help students set up initial interviews, meets with interns throughout the semester to gauge their progress and to assist in resolving any problems, and reads the required papers submitted by the interns.

History 680/880 is a four-unit course.  Three-quarters of the grade for History 680/880 will be determined primarily by the on-site supervisor in consultation with the internship coordinator; one-quarter of the grade for History 680/880 will be determined by the internship coordinator, based on the required papers and the discussions between the intern and the coordinator. Students who have taken 680/880 once need not repeat the paper and should register for three units.  Students may receive no more than seven units of credit in History 680 or History 880, its graduate level equivalent.

The student considering an internship should first contact the Department of History internship coordinator to talk about the program in general, the various agencies which participate, and the advantages of an internship.  The student should think carefully about the relationship between the internship and career objectives, including the skills and competencies important to those career objectives, and should fill out a preliminary placement information form and give it to the internship coordinator at this first meeting.  Based on the information provided by the student, the internship coordinator will suggest one or more agencies as possible sites for placement, and provide the name and telephone number of the on-site supervisor(s). Placement interviews are an important way of practicing for job interviews, as well as a way of learning if a particular agency is the best for the realization of individual learning objectives. Students may want to visit and interview at more than one agency.  Before going to an agency, the student should call the on-site supervisor, schedule a day and time for the interview, and ask what material should be brought, e.g., a resume or a writing sample.  The student may accept an assignment during this initial interview.  If so, it is a good time to arrange the hours when the student will work during the semester and to complete the work agreement (see below).  As soon as the student accepts an assignment, he or she should immediately notify the internship coordinator.

The interview is important to get the internship off to a good start.  In choosing an agency, the following factors are important:   

  1. Job description, including clarity, importance to the agency, educational value to the student, and feasibility given to the student’s level of skill and time available. The chances of a satisfying and productive internship are much improved if the student understands clearly what work is to be done, its importance to the agency, and its interest and value to the student’s career objectives.    
  2. Relationship with the on-site supervisor.  This is extremely important and will make a significant difference in the outcome of the internship. The student should try and determine, during the placement interview, whether the supervisor seems genuinely interested in having an intern, willing to help to define a set of learning objectives, and likely to be available to help. If the student has doubts or questions about the desirability of the assignment, he or she, should consult further with the internship coordinator before making a final decision.

The intern and the on-site supervisor should work out an agreement covering the following areas: work objectives, educational objectives, provision for learning about the overall operation of the agency, provision for regular supervision, and work schedule.  This work agreement is critical as a means of clearly articulating both the student’s learning objectives and the agency’s expectations.  A copy of the work agreement should be retained by the student and a copy should be given to the internship coordinator by the fourth week of the semester. 

The student will meet with the internship coordinator several times during the semester. These meetings give the student an opportunity to ask questions which may have emerged at the agency, to inform the coordinator of developing problems with the internship, to discuss significant aspects of the internship experience, or to ask about careers in public history.  The internship coordinator will use these meetings to seek information regarding the development of the internship and especially to learn of problems which might inhibit the fulfillment of the student’s learning objectives.  The day and time of these meetings will be set through agreement between the student and coordinator.

Required Reports

Every few weeks all interns will be required to file a brief report about the progress of their internship. This report will be shared with all other interns enrolled during that semester.

Required Paper

Each intern will write a 10-15 page paper, word processed and double-spaced.  The paper will be based in part on the intern’s experiences, in part on the intern’s analysis of the work situation, and in part on research. The paper should include the following information: 

  1. What does the intern expect to gain from the internship?  What is particularly attractive about the placement? 
  2. A summary and description of the types of work performed during the internship.
  3. A searching assessment of the conditions of the internship:  were assignments clear, feasible, interesting?  Was the student’s level of preparation adequate to complete the assignment?  Does the student’s schedule allow sufficient time to devote the necessary eight hours (plus travel time)?  Does the internship offer valuable learning opportunities?  What sorts of things will the intern be learning?  Are the physical location and facilities adequate?  Are potential relationships with other workers good?  Does the intern have sufficient direct contact with the on-site supervisor?  Does the intern feel comfortable with the supervisor?  Does the supervisor seem to understand and respect the intern’s needs and problems? 
  4. A description of the agency in which the intern is working. The paper should describe the agency as fully as 3-5 pages will allow:  its origins, purpose, major activities, staff and staff qualifications, budget and budget sources, major sources of external support and/or accountability, clients.  What changes would improve the performance of the agency?  Take into account the nature, constraints (budgetary and otherwise), resources, etc. This should not exceed a few pages of carefully considered suggestions. The paper should include a one-page organization chart of the agency, with an indication of the supervisor’s position and the intern’s own position.
  5. An overall history curriculum evaluation. What courses were most helpful in preparing for the internship?  What changes might be made in particular courses to provide better preparation for work at an agency of the sort where the internship took place?  What additional preparation would have been helpful?  What should the History Department faculty do to improve the curriculum?
  6. Any final comments regarding the internship. 
  7. Attach a letter from your supervisor that describes the work you performed and reflections on its quality. This paper is intended primarily to encourage the intern to think broadly about the work experience, to get an overview of the agency and its activities, to think creatively about improving the agency’s efforts, and to think about his or her own career. In the end, the real value of this paper is in directing the intern in thinking about his or her work experience. However, the paper will also provide the basis for assigning one-quarter of the grade for History 680/880.  Graduate students’ papers will be judged by the standards expected of graduate students. Students who have taken History 680/880 may repeat the course once for credit, although it may be used only once as a part of the History major requirements.  Students taking History 680/880 should register for three units rather than four.

Sample of Work Performed

Each student will be required to submit a copy of any work that they performed for the internship, i.e., a catalogue, index, report, summary of holdings, etc.  If no written work has been produced, the student should present a detailed description of the work performed and its significance as part of the preceding paper.

The Resume

Early in the semester, each intern should go to the Career Center and sign up for one of the workshops on resume preparation. In developing a resume, begin by forming a working file: a list of all papers, projects, volunteer experiences, jobs, skills, education. This working file will become a permanent part of the individual’s job search, and should include accurate records of all employment (where, the dates, the name of the supervisor, the reason for leaving), similar details for all unpaid experience (including the internship), education (where, dates, degrees, honors), and letters of reference from former supervisors. The next step is to edit and refine the information from this working file into a brief resume.  Identifying information should appear prominently: name, address, telephone numbers.  A clear career objective statement should also appear prominently, stating the functions and the level at which the individual would like to perform.  Everything else in the resume should support this career objective statement. The following are among the appropriate categories of information: experience (listed in reverse chronological order and including only the most relevant experiences, paid and unpaid), education (also in reverse chronological order, including relevant information regarding major, honors, special projects, etc.), and other appropriate information (e.g., special skills, foreign language capabilities, membership in professional associations). The final version should be brief (preferably one page), clear (can the entire resume be reviewed in thirty seconds?), neat (with careful use of margins, emphasis, grammar, accuracy), and honest.  Full sentences (as opposed to lists of information) should be carefully edited, should be in the active voice, and should contain no grammatical errors.The resume is not intended as a comprehensive autobiography; its purpose is to secure a job interview and it should reflect the best the applicant has to offer.  The resume should present only information supporting the statement of career objectives, and should present a strong, clear picture of the individual’s abilities.