Illinois State University
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Internships – Frequently Asked Questions


Where can interns work?

Though most internships take place in the Bloomington/Normal area, students have worked as interns across the state and even outside it. Students typically work in archives, museums, historical societies and sites, and other history-related institutions. Students have also worked in non-profit and governmental agencies and with businesses.

Past placements in the Bloomington-Normal area have included: McLean County Museum of History, David Davis Mansion, ISU University Archives, the ISU Students' Legal Services Office and Country Insurance and Financial Services. Placements outside the local area have included: Early American Museum, Mahomet; Weldon Springs State Recreation Area, Clinton; Jefferson County Museum & Village, Mt. Vernon; Elgin Area Historical Society & Museum; Peoria Historical Society; Caterpillar, Inc., Peoria; DuSable Museum of of African-American History Chicago; Chicago History Museum; Gardner Museum of Architecture and Design, Quincy; and the LaSalle County Historical Society.


What do interns do?

Students determine the content of internships in cooperation with supervising agencies. Most interns are interested in spending time at historical institutions or agencies. They work with document collections, artifacts, exhibitions, or educational programs and develop skills in research, writing, editing, and interacting with the public. Other students have found opportunities that on the surface had little to do with history but that have enabled them to apply skills that they developed as students in history.


Do internships pay?

Internships typically pay only in experience, though occasionally an internship may lead to employment within an organization or business. Most often, the practical benefits - aside from course credit - are that internships improve skills, broaden contacts, and maybe strengthen resumes.


What qualifications are required?

The History Department limits internships to qualified majors, students in the history education sequence, and history graduate students.

  • To enroll in the program HIS 398, undergraduates must have a 2.6 GPA in both their major and overall. Normally, undergraduate students cannot begin an internship until they have completed 75 semester hours.
  • To enroll in HIS 498, graduate students must have completed 10 hours of graduate credits that include Research in History (Hist 497) and a graduate seminar.


What about academic credit?

Students may earn up to 3 credit hours for a semester's worth of internship. For each credit hour a student must complete at least 55 hours of work at a site, plus the additional time devoted to preparation of a midterm report and a final paper. Be aware that a site may require students to commit hours beyond what the department itself requires.

  • Undergraduates can apply up to 6 semester hours of internship credit toward their major program of study.
  • Undergraduates majors in History or History Education may use a 3-hour internship as a substitute for one of the 300-level electives required in the major.
  •  Masters students in History may apply up to 6-7 credit hours of internship (no more than 20 percent of their total credit hours) toward their graduate degree.


What is the role of the site supervisor?

Site supervisors are the mentoring professionals from whose knowledge and expertise students will benefit. In consultation with the intern, site supervisors devise tasks that will introduce interns to the historical or professional activities that the sponsoring institution represents. Supervisors and interns meet on a regular basis to review the intern's work, discuss the skills and knowledge that the internship is intended to impart, consider the contribution of the internship to the institution's program, and other relevant issues. At the end of the internship, supervisors will submit a brief evaluation of the intern's work. For more on this evaluation, please consult the internship reporting guidelines in the menu to the left.


How are interns assessed?

The site supervisor will submit an evaluation that will play a significant role in determining an intern's final grade. In addition to whatever tasks interns are assigned at the internship site, interns must also prepare:

  • A log of the time spent on the internship, including activities undertaken and the number of hours devoted to them. This log should accompany both the midterm report and final paper when they are turned in to the internship advisor. It should be used when completing the tasks below.
  • A 3-5 page midterm report describing assigned tasks and what the intern has in fact, accomplished to date.
  • An 8-10 page final paper submitted at the end of the term that summarizes the experience and assesses its value to the student's overall education.

For more information regarding the report and essay see Guidelines for the Midterm Report and Final Essay.


How does someone apply?

  • It is advisable to meet first with the internship advisor, Professor Alan Lessoff, to discuss interests and options.
  • The necessary forms are available at our Applications and Forms page. These include:
  • The learning activities agreement is especially important, as it documents what interns will do during their internship and the goals to be pursued. Potential interns should contact the agency where they hope to intern, discuss what they might do as an intern, and complete this form. The potential site supervisor needs to sign it as well as the student.
  • Applicants must complete all the departmental application procedures and be formally accepted into the program. When a candidate meets whatever qualifications the internship site has established and submits the signed agreement, the student may register for the program.

All of the necessary documents are available at Application and Forms.


Email History

Department of History
Normal, Il 61790-4420
Phone: (309) 438-5641
Fax: (309) 438-5607