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Internships and Service-Learning

The History Department encourages and supports students who wish to utilize their academic and historical research skills in service to the community. Such service can occur through an off-campus internship, an on-campus class, a volunteer post, a directed study, or some combination. Service-learning and internships are available to both undergraduate and graduate students, at any point in their academic career.

Service-learning and internships benefit both students and the community. Students get the chance to apply their skills in reading, writing, analysis, and archival research to real-world situations, and to obtain valuable job-related experience. Community organizations (typically non-profit associations) get well-trained students to work on specific projects that benefit the social and economic vitality of the city and the greater Lowell region.

History students have worked with a variety of organizations in prior years, including the Lowell National Park, Lawrence History Center, Whistler House Museum, Tsongas Industrial History Center, Cambodian Mutual Assistance Association, Lowell High School, Save Venice Boston, Coalition for a Better Acre, and the International Institute of Lowell.

Service-learning and internship students can do a variety of projects (and have done all of these in prior semesters):

  • Conduct oral history interviews, transcribe results, and write up reports
  • Catalog items in a museum, research their provenance, and write captions
  • Organize and digitize a small archive, create a finding aid
  • Investigate archival materials and write a history of the organization
  • Prepare exhibition panels, photographs, and explanatory text
  • Create walking tours, pamphlets, or web pages about the history of a non-profit
  • Help organize a conference, exhibition, or commemoration

There are several methods for engaging in service-learning and internships through the History Department. Such opportunities can be completed as volunteer work, or for a stipend, or for academic credit. The Department encourages you to consider all of these possibilities, or to invent your own.

  1. Volunteer at your local historical society, museum, or non-profit. This provides maximum flexibility in terms of the project that you do and the number of hours.
  2. Enroll in one of the Department courses that provide academic credit and greater structure, such as History Writing & Community, Practicum, Tsongas Center Field Practice, or Directed Study. These courses combine academic training with hands-on experience at the community partner’s site.
  3. Apply for one of the University-sponsored stipends or fellowships that support one-on-one research with an individual faculty member. This includes the Emerging Scholars program, the Immersive Scholars program (formerly known as Co-op Scholars), FAHSS Community internships, FAHSS Student Assistantships, and (for History majors in Honors) the $1,000 Honors Fellowship; many of these can be transformed to an internship or service-learning opportunity. These do not carry academic credit but they can offer valuable experience as well as financial compensation.
  4. Develop a service-learning idea of your own and approach a faculty member in the Department to help make it happen.
  5. Talk to Dana Norton and the Career & Co-op Center about their databases, workshops, career fairs, individual appointments, and career panels, all of which can help you to identify internship and service-learning options in the community.

Department faculty are ready to assist you in thinking about options to enhance your resume and your professional experience by doing “applied history” in the community. For example, Prof. Forrant has experience working with the Lowell National Park and Lawrence History Center; Prof. Montrie has supervised multiple students at the Tsongas Industrial History Center; Prof. Carlsmith has taught the service-learning course many times; Prof.’s Strobel, Chen, and Pierson have published on aspects of Lowell’s history; Prof. Keen is familiar with the Greek community in Lowell; Prof. Herbin-Triant is investigating links between Lowell mills and the U.S. South; Prof. Chandler has supervised projects on colonial and Massachusetts history.

The Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) page about internships, designed by the UMass Lowell English Department, contains excellent information and much of it is applicable to History students too.

Revised 12/14/2017 by C. Carlsmith, R. Forrant, and R. Toof