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10 Great History Internships for High School Students

If you have a passion for history, don't let these internships slip by you! You should consider exploring these programs to enhance your historical knowledge, gain insights into its practical applications, and demonstrate your passion for it on applications and resumes.

History internships can significantly enhance college applications by showcasing your dedication to academic and experiential learning. Admissions committees value candidates who demonstrate a genuine passion for their chosen field. The impact of an internship on your application can be influenced by its relevance to your academic goals and the prestige of the hosting institution.

Internships with prestigious organizations, such as renowned museums, historical societies, or research institutions, can carry substantial weight. However, regardless of the organization's prestige, highlighting your responsibilities, achievements, and the skills you've gained during the internship is key to effectively demonstrating your commitment to history and your potential contributions to the college community.

Specific history internships for high school students can vary widely in terms of availability and popularity. The top ten options can change from year to year, but here are ten specific history-related internships that have been recognized for providing valuable experiences for high school students interested in history:

How do I choose an internship that’s best for me?

When selecting the best history summer program, consider the following four crucial steps:

1. Identify Your Goals: Clearly define your objectives for participating in a history summer program. Determine whether you want to gain specific historical knowledge, develop research skills, explore a particular historical topic, or simply have a well-rounded historical experience.

2. Research Experience: See if the internship that you are looking to join offers research experience. This is a great way to access parts of history that have never been explored before and employ more hands-on experiential learning.

3. Match Your Interests: Choose a program that aligns with your historical interests and aspirations. Whether you're passionate about a specific time period, region, or historical theme, selecting a program that resonates with your interests will make the experience more engaging and rewarding.

4. Evaluate Program Components: Carefully examine the program's curriculum, faculty, facilities, and resources. Consider factors such as program duration, location, cost, and available scholarships or financial aid. Additionally, read reviews, seek feedback from past participants, and assess whether the program offers the level of academic rigor and experiential learning you desire.

By following these steps, you can make an informed decision and select the history internship that best aligns with your goals and interests.

Location: Smithsonian Science Education Center

Stipend: $2000

Program dates: June - August

Eligibility: 1) Be a high school senior graduating in 2022; 2) Be a U.S. citizen or legal permanent resident of the United States with a valid Social Security Number at the time of application; 3) Have a minimum weighted cumulative grade point average (GPA) of 3.25 on a 4.0 scale

The Young Ambassadors Program (YAP) is a nationwide initiative designed for high school seniors about to graduate. This program aims to cultivate the next generation of socially aware leaders within the Latino community, focusing on fields like the arts, sciences, and humanities. It accomplishes this by leveraging the resources of the Smithsonian Institution. Successful candidates will have the opportunity to engage in a weeklong educational seminar in Washington, D.C. at the Smithsonian, centering on Latino perspectives. During this seminar, they will collaborate with peers from across the country. Subsequently, they will embark on a four-week interdisciplinary internship program at museums and cultural institutions in 18 U.S. cities and Puerto Rico. Participants will gain insights into potential career paths in the arts, sciences, and humanities, interact with established Latino leaders, and improve their networking skills and knowledge.

Location: Hybrid

Stipend: N/A

Program dates: June - July

Eligibility: Current high school students with an interest in working with peers; interest in or experience working with children; interest in writing, exhibition development, and research. In-person interns must be available to come into the Library once a week during the intensive.

The Library of Congress High School Summer Internship Program offers a unique opportunity for high school students to immerse themselves in the world's largest library. This prestigious program provides hands-on experience in one of the most esteemed cultural institutions in the United States. Interns gain insights into the Library's vast collections, assist with research projects, and engage with experts in various fields. It's a transformative summer experience that sparks curiosity, fosters academic growth, and opens doors to future opportunities in the realm of knowledge and culture.

Location: Varies with internship

Stipend: N/A

Program dates: Throughout the year

Eligibility: Must be a U.S. Citizen, at least 16 years of age, currently enrolled, or accepted for enrollment at an accredited educational institute, in good academic standing, and qualifications and interests should match the requirements of the internship project

A National Agency Check and Inquiry (NACI) background check will also be required.

The National Archives High School Internship is an exceptional program that provides high school students with a great opportunity to explore the country's historical treasures. During this internship, participants engage in invaluable hands-on experiences at the National Archives, gaining access to and working closely with historical documents, artifacts, and records of national significance. This immersive program offers students a unique chance to deepen their understanding of American history, develop research and archival skills, and interact with knowledgeable professionals in the field. It's a transformative experience that equips young minds with a profound appreciation for history and archival work, setting the stage for future careers in this important field.

Location: Washington DC

Stipend: $650/week over 5 consecutive weeks for a total of $3,250

Program dates: July - August

Eligibility: Rising High School Senior

This internship program pays tribute to Benjamin Lawless and his lasting impact as a globally recognized exhibition planner, designer, Emmy award-winning filmmaker, and writer. The Benjamin Lawless Internship offers an enriching opportunity for a high school rising senior to delve into the realms of audience engagement, exhibition design, and the compelling narratives intertwined with diverse objects and their creators and users.

Spanning a continuous five-week period during the summer, a Benjamin Lawless intern will foster creativity and innovation by discovering fresh ways to convey narratives inspired by the Smithsonian's vast collections and research. Interns actively participate in this structured educational experience, dedicating 40 hours per week from Monday to Friday. At the conclusion of the internship, the intern is encouraged to express their acquired insights and knowledge in a format of their choosing.

Location: Washington DC

Stipend: Unpaid

Program dates: July - August

Eligibility: High school students from the DC area

The Stephen Tyrone Johns Summer Youth Leadership Program is a dedicated initiative designed to honor the memory and legacy of Stephen Tyrone Johns. Participants study the lessons of the Holocaust and share them with their peers and others by leading tours of the Museum’s Permanent Exhibition, providing educational programming to other young people before and after their Museum visit, hosting the Museum’s National Youth Leadership Seminar and working closely with peers around the country to create a network of young people reaching out to others and promoting human dignity. Through this program, they gain valuable insights, build meaningful connections, and carry forward the spirit of Stephen Tyrone Johns by making a positive difference in the world.

Location: New York, New York

Stipend: A stripend commensurate with the New York State minimum wage

Program dates: January-June (school year) and July-August (summer)

Eligibility: Students who are two to three years from graduating high school (in grades 10 and 11) or obtaining their High School Equivalency degree and who, on the application deadline date, either reside in or attend a high school or home school in New York, New Jersey, or Connecticut

The Metropolitan Museum of Art High School Internships offer a unique and immersive opportunity for high school students to explore the world-renowned museum from the inside. This prestigious program provides selected students with hands-on experiences, enabling them to work alongside museum professionals, curators, educators, and other experts. Interns gain insights into various aspects of museum operations, including curatorial work, educational programming, research, and exhibition planning. Through this program, they develop a deep appreciation for art and culture, refine their critical thinking skills, and lay the foundation for potential future careers in the arts and museum field.

Location: New York, New York

Stipend: Interns who attend a Title 1 School or are eligible for free or reduced lunch will be offered a stipend to participate. Unpaid internships will be provided for all other accepted students, with the option to receive community service hours or school credit. Participation in this program can be used to fulfill the extracurricular requirement for the NYSED Seal of Civic Readiness.

Program dates: October - June

Eligibility: High school students, entering grades 10, 11, or 12. Applicants must live in and attend school in the New York City metro area (includes the five boroughs of New York City, as well as areas of New York State, Connecticut, and New Jersey).

High school students participating in the Student Historian internship program leverage New-York Historical's resources to embark on research endeavors and showcase their scholarly work through innovative digital projects. During the internship, these students engage in informative sessions with experienced professionals, where they gain insights into the realms of museums, libraries, digital humanities, and history. They also foster collaborative skills by working closely with their peers to enhance their historical analysis, communication, and digital media abilities. Additionally, they actively participate in hands-on activities aimed at deepening their grasp of American history and the digital humanities. The overarching theme for this internship program this year is 'Our Composite Nation: Frederick Douglass' America.'

Location: New York, New York

Stipend: Available

Program dates: Academic Year and Summer Internships available

Eligibility: High School and College students based in NYC

The Gilder Lehrman Institute of American History Internship presents a remarkable opportunity for individuals interested in immersing themselves in the study and promotion of American history. This prestigious program offers interns a chance to work closely with dedicated historians, educators, and researchers in a variety of capacities. Interns may engage in tasks such as archival research, educational program development, content creation, and event planning, all geared toward advancing the understanding and appreciation of American history. Through this internship, participants gain invaluable experience, access to historical resources, and the opportunity to contribute to the dissemination of knowledge about the nation's past.

Location: Virtual for Summer 2023, Maybe in-person for Summer 2024

Stipend: Unpaid

Program dates: July - August

Eligibility: Underrepresented high school students from communities among the five New York City boroughs

The High School Division of the Sonia & Celina Sotomayor Judicial Internship Program, commonly referred to as The Sotomayor Program, is a prestigious initiative aimed at introducing high school students to the world of the judiciary and legal system. Throughout the program, high school interns engage in a structured and educational experience that includes working alongside judges, legal professionals, and court personnel. They may participate in tasks such as legal research, observing court proceedings, assisting with case management, and engaging in discussions about the legal process and the importance of justice. The Sotomayor Program not only provides interns with insights into the workings of the judicial system but also instills values of justice, equality, and civic engagement. It aims to inspire the next generation of legal scholars, advocates, and leaders who are committed to upholding the principles of the law.

Location: In person, Washington DC

Stipend: Unpaid

Program dates: A minimum of 12 hours per week for at least one semester, two quarters or summer session.

Eligibility: Those selected as student volunteers must Be a U.S. citizen; Be at least 16 years of age at the time of appointment; Be enrolled or accepted in an accredited educational institution (high school, technical school, college/university) during the upcoming semester or quarter; Maintain a satisfactory academic record of a 2.5 or better cumulative grade point average; Obtain an agreement from the academic institution to participate; Not be a son or daughter of a current U.S. Secret Service employee.

This program, conducted by the U.S. Secret Service provides selected students with an immersive, historical, and educational experience that allows them to contribute to the agency's mission while learning about its various operations and responsibilities. Throughout the program, student volunteers may assist with a range of tasks, such as administrative support, event planning and execution, security operations, and research assignments. They work closely with Secret Service professionals, gaining valuable insights into the agency's role in protecting national leaders, securing major events, and combating financial crimes. The Student Volunteer Program not only offers students a chance to develop practical skills and knowledge in law enforcement but also instills the values of integrity, dedication, and service to the nation.

Remember that the availability of these internships may vary by location and year, and some programs may have specific eligibility criteria. It's essential to research each program, check their websites for application details and deadlines, and reach out to the organizations directly for the most up-to-date information on internship opportunities for high school students interested in history. Additionally, consider seeking guidance from your school's career services department or history teachers for assistance in finding suitable internships in your area.

Ladder Internships is a selective program equipping students with virtual internship experiences at startups and nonprofits around the world! This is also a great opportunity for students to explore areas they think they might be interested in, and better understand professional career opportunities in those areas. The startups are based all across the world, with the majority being in the United States, Asia and then Europe and the UK. 

While Ladder does not offer an internship in pure history/museum management and curatorship, you can explore real-world applications of understanding historical contexts as part of their media and journalism track.

You can explore all the options here on their application form. As part of their internship, you will work on a real-world project that is of genuine need to the startup, and present your work at the end of their internship. In addition to working closely with your manager from the startup, each intern will also work with a Ladder Coach throughout their internship - the Ladder Coach serves as a second mentor and a sounding board, guiding you through the internship and helping you navigate the startup environment. 

Interns are offered one-on-one training in communication, time management and other such valuable skills and will also have the opportunity to attend group training sessions with other interns in their cohort. The virtual internship is usually 8 weeks long.

Cost: $1490 (Financial Aid Available)

Location:  Remote! You can work from anywhere in the world.

Application deadline: April 16 and May 14

Program dates: 8 weeks, June to August

Eligibility: Students who can work for 10-20 hours/week, for 8-12 weeks. Open to high school students, undergraduates and gap year students!

If you would like to dive further into history and play a more direct role in uncovering parts of our past, you should also consider applying to the Lumiere Research Scholar Program, a selective online high school program for students founded with researchers at Harvard and Oxford. Last year, we had over 4000 students apply for 500 spots in the program! You can find the application form here.

Jessica attends Harvard University where she studies Neuroscience and Computer Science as a Coca-Cola, Elks, and Albert Shankar Scholar. She is passionate about educational equity and hopes to one day combine this with her academic interests via social entrepreneurship. Outside of academics, she enjoys taking walks, listening to music, and running her jewelry business!

Image Source: Smithsonian logo



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