A veteran of the History M.A. program recently reflected on the value of her internship experience — important words for current students to consider!
by Lindsey Duncan
What I learned about the value of my internship in the job market.
I’ve graduated with my Masters in History-success! Now what do I do? At the end of my graduate career, I was flying high. There’s nothing quite like the feeling of passing oral defense and wearing the Masters hood holly2 at graduation. Reality soon sets in, however, when the search for a job begins. For those of us seeking higher education in history, it is clear that we are passionate about our studies, but the world doesn’t always see how valuable we truly are. Yes, we have an MA, but finding a job in history is difficult.
For someone who entered the program hoping for a future in academia, the news that teaching jobs are rare is disappointing. Luckily, I took the Internship in History course. Teaching history is not the only route graduates can take. This is exciting news! I studied the public side of history and I gained invaluable experience in understanding what the world has to offer for graduates. I interned in an archive where I learned and applied standard archival procedures, discovered how to make an excellent, usable finding aid, and practiced working with different personalities. This one course has opened many doors for me because I can apply to positions in museums, archives, foundations, and businesses across the country.
Without the internship, I would not qualify for any of those positions because experience is mandatory. One semester is all the department requires (though I recommend starting in your first semester and continuing to intern the rest of your graduate career-more experience always helps). The internship asks for 104 hours over 15 weeks-that’s 7 hours a week! Anyone can make that work, and you should! The fact of the matter is, finding a job is difficult. Any way you can add to your CV, make professional connections, learn more about history, and understand its varying applications serve to increase your likelihood of working in the field post-graduation.
This is the goal of history students and therefore you should jump at the opportunity afforded you and register for HIST 6995! Not only will you experience public history first-hand through the internship, but you will also learn from experts in their field about public history: what it means, how it is used, and what opportunities exist for historians. I know by taking the course I have a greater chance for success in the history job market and for that alone I know I made the right decision.