A supervised internship is an integral part of the public history track. It affords students the opportunity to work as temporary employees, and it provides them with firsthand experience (in some cases compensated) in settings such as archives, museums, historical societies, and private historical research firms.
Students at WSU have been interns at local, state, regional, and national sites, including local historical societies, the National Park Service, the National Archives–Central Plains Region and Pacific Northwest Region, the Bureau of Indian Affairs, the U.S. Forest Service, the Historic American Engineering Record, the National Parks Conservation Association, the Bureau of Reclamation, the Experience Music Project in Bellevue, Washington, the Nevada State Parks System, as well as numerous private research firms or agencies. Most, though not all, travel to off-campus locations to serve internships.
Academic credit may be earned by registering for History 598: Internship. For each semester of credit, the student works 40 hours. Summer internships are common, but several students have enrolled in History 598: Internship for a full semester as on-site interns. At some point in their program all students must register for 3 hours of internship credit.
Internships provide students with practical insights into potential historical employment. Private sector institutional supervisors provide mentoring relationships, and they introduce students to the professional networks common to the public historian’s work environment.
For each internship, a contract or Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) is drawn up that describes in detail the work to be performed, the time and credit involved, the compensation (if any), and the obligation of all parties: the student, the faculty advisor, and the internship supervisor.