What's it like being an IPH intern?

From previous IPH interns:

“Of all the internships I have completed over my collegiate career, my experience [with IPH] has been the most meaningful.”

- Nicole Penn, James Monroe’s Highland

“There is something undeniably enriching about speaking personally with individuals who have experienced historic events I can only read about.”

- Lydia Neuroth, Prince William Ct. Historic Preservation Division

“The projects I worked on were both physically and intellectually challenging. The internship was substantive and the work I accomplished for the museum was important.”

- Bridget Bailey, Gibbes Museum of Art, Charleston, SC

“I spent quite a bit of time researching different people and utilizing different databases, which was a very interesting part of my job.”

- Kira McBride, Virginia Historical Society

“My site supervisor ensured that I understood the expectations of the internship, and always responded to emails or phone calls promptly. He was understanding of any scheduling needs. He challenged us to work hard without overwhelming us. The training [for walking tours of the battlefield] was excellent and comprehensive.”

- Jane Winthrop, Fredericksburg and Spotsylvania National Military Park

“Thanks to the Institute for Public History, I spent the summer after my first year of UVA graduate courses as an intern at the Library of Virginia in Richmond. This internship granted me a rewarding opportunity to explore the challenges of researching and developing a public history project. 

Specifically, I was tasked with developing an online component for the upcoming physical exhibition “Remaking Virginia: Transformation Through Emancipation,” which is scheduled to open in the library’s exhibit space in July 2015. “Remaking Virginia” will highlight the experiences of African-American Virginians in the wake of emancipation, Confederate defeat, and the cultural upheavals throughout Reconstruction. While a few of my previous work experiences had exposed me to the duties of relaying historical content to the general public, my position at the Library of Virginia offered a chance to actually research, create, and craft that content. Knowing that my work could potentially inform the narrative and meaning of the past for the public served as a sobering reminder of the historian’s responsibilities.

This internship greatly strengthened my ability to think creatively about sources and nourished my growing interest in the presentation of historical narratives for public, non-academic consumption. It also provided me with the opportunity to learn an online archival and exhibit creation software called Omeka. This exposure to new technologies has yielded inspiration for my own research and pedagogy. As a Teaching Assistant this semester at UVa, I am using this digital platform with my students, showing them how to create interactive and archival projects of their own.”

- Joseph M. Thompson, Graduate Student, Corocan Department of History, Library of Virginia

"I interned at the Scottsville Museum, a local museum in Albemarle County, where I conducted oral history interviews with past students of two local high schools, Esmont and Scottsville. These two schools – the former an African American high school, the latter a predominately white institution – were closed in 1949 and 1967, respectively. The interviewees and I explored the stories of the teachers, traditions, race relations, and communities in and around these schools, as well as the reactions to their closing.

The interviewees’ enthusiasm for the project helped me realize the importance of public history campaigns such as this one. Preserving the community’s history is a way of preserving the community itself, and the interviewees’ interest in ensuring the completeness of that history got me invested in hearing their stories. I was able to convince several interviewees who felt their input was unimportant to participate.

Interpreting these interviews was a more nuanced task than I had expected. I had not anticipated the fine line between trying to obtain objectively factual information from my interviewees while also navigating the biases and inconsistencies across individuals’ stories. I became committed to the task of finding connections and patterns across the decades, and devising a preliminary means of organizing this information for better analysis and display in the future.

My experience as an IPH intern was personally, intellectually, and professionally rewarding, and has even influenced my post-graduation plans: I am now seriously considering working in the museum field, particularly in a way that enables me to continue preserving community histories."

- Caroline Trezza, Scottsville Museum

From IPH employers:

“The IPH internship is much more than a regular volunteer experience. Students are fully integrated in the Gibbes’ curatorial department. . . . The work accomplished by the intern each summer is high quality and extremely beneficial to the museum as a whole.”

- Zinnia Willits, Director of Collections Administration, Gibbes Museum of Art

“I try to emphasize with our interns that interpersonal skills in the office are really important – those relationships will help you out in the long run. I also really want them to have finished projects they can see completed that they can use for job hunting in the future.”

-Sarah Nucci, Preservationist, Prince William County

“Since 1999, the internships program at the IPH has placed students at the Library of Virginia who have performed at a high level of scholarship and skill. We look forward each fall to identifying projects and submitting the proposals for the following summer.”

- Barbara Batson, Exhibitions Coordinator, Library of Virginia

“Basically our intern was awesome.”

- Mary Ann Mason, Project Archivist, Virginia Historical Society

“The internship program is critical to our park’s summer program. We always have a uniformed park ranger-historian work with the interns. The first thing an intern enables the park to do indirectly, is to offer services at six different units of the park. The interns also enable us to expand the number of programs that we give. We offer sixteen formal interpretive programs each day and open a historic home to the public for 1 ½ hours each day.”

-Greg Mertz, Supervisory Historian, Fredericksburg and Spotsylvania National Military Park

“Our intern produced a comprehensive report on collections in cultural organizations in the region around Danville, Virginia. She was an excellent communicator, with great skills of outreach, empathy, and analysis.”

- Ina Dixon, History United, Virginia Foundation for the Humanities