"Overall, I loved the experience. Everyone was polite and respectful to me, and allowed and trusted me to do actual work; not once was I asked to get coffee or anything like that. Moreover, they helped me with some research relevant to a couple classes."
Grand Valley State University offers Public History Internships as an important part of the degree program. Internships provide opportunities for students to engage with the public and who may also be contemplating careers using their history degrees.
Internships typically take place in museums, historical societies, libraries and archives, heritage tourism sites, national and regional parks, urban revitalization organizations and oral history projects. While most internships are at West Michigan sites, it is possible to coordinate an internship just about anywhere.
Please see the Internship Guidelines for a full description of the program and its requirements.
History (BA/BS) and SST undergraduates second-year standing and above with a 2.25 overall GPA and a 3.0 in their History/SST course are eligible to seek an internship for GVSU credit as HST-490.
Student Experiences in Community and Institutional Settings
Participants in the program work with organizations to aid in policy analysis, to engage community members in history, and to work with historical topics within the private sector.
Students learn hands-on techniques such as research and developing public exhibits, preparing educational plans in concern with state standards, creating inventories and finding aids for museum and archival collections, conducting and analyzing oral histories, managing and conserving museum collections, assisting with public programming, curating digital media, and managing social media outreach.
Interns work closely with an internship supervisor to design and develop a project that provides a meaningful learning experience and leads to a significant contribution to a museum or other history- or art-oriented organization. Their contact with experienced practitioners gives them a real sense of how organizations research, collect, preserve, and interpret history and art in public settings.
Interns describe their experiences as providing a real-world basis to their studies, giving insight into programs and organizations, and to sample career options they might otherwise not have considered. If you’re not sure what you want to do, internships are a great way to get credit while you figure it out! Interns also report that their experiences give them greater confidence in the skills they have learned, the versatility to apply them, and to think of themselves as professionals gaining experience and networking opportunities. Nearly all find great satisfaction in knowing that they are contributing to the mission of local organizations.
Earn Credit Towards Your Degree
Internships are arranged for 3 credit hours on a Credit/No Credit basis and require an average 10-20 hours (120 hours total) of service over the course of 12 weeks during a semester. This allows the student to complete a substantial project and to finish that work prior to entering the last phase of the semester and final examinations.
For questions not found in the internship guidelines, or to apply, contact:
History Department Internship Coordinator
Grand Valley State University
Department of History
D-1-150 Mackinac Hall
Allendale, MI 49401
Phone: (616) 331-8701
"My time at the City of Grand Rapids Archives and Records Center was fantastic. The head archivist Tony Wright gave me the freedom to explore whatever aspects of archival work I chose."
Student Internship Sites
Grand Rapids Public Museum
Gerald R. Ford Presidential Museum
Grand Rapids History & Special Collections, Grand Rapids Public Library
Tri-Cities Museum, Grand Haven
Grand Rapids City Archives
U.S.S. Silversides Museum
Lakeshore Museum, Muskegon
Coopersville Farm Museum
Special Collections and University Archives, GVSU
Mackinac State Parks
National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum Steele Internship Program