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Student Historian Internship Program at New York Historical Society - Should You Apply?

If you’re a high school student passionate about history, you should already be considering various pre-college programs in the field. Programs like these can help you deepen your exposure to history, view it from multiple perspectives and in greater depth, and learn valuable research and analysis skills that will help you immensely if you want to pursue it as a career. All of this also translates into a better academic profile when applying to colleges in this field. Today’s blog post will take you through the Student Historian Internship Program at the New York Historical Society, and how you can benefit from it.


What is the Student Historian Internship Program?

The Student Historian Internship Program at the New York Historical Society is a five week long internship program designed to enable sophomores, juniors, and seniors in the New York metro area to conduct research and scholarship in history. This program aims to develop students' understanding of historical research, museum education, and public history. You will be touring museums, talking to experts, conducting research projects, and understanding exhibition planning. You will get the opportunity to learn directly from historians, curators, and educators, gaining hands-on experience in a museum setting. The New York Historical Society, established in 1804, is one of the oldest museums in the United States, known for its extensive collection of artifacts and documents that illuminate American history.


How is it structured?

The program is structured to provide a comprehensive learning experience over a semester or summer session. There are two internship cohorts - one held during the academic year, and one held over the summer. In the summer, you will be attending sessions from 10 am to 3 pm every Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday from early July to mid-August.


Over the course of the internship, you can expect to learn about historical research methods, museum operations, and educational programming. Your work will allow you access to the museum’s extensive archives and resources, and you’ll be directly interacting with historians and museum professionals to learn about the museum, library, digital humanities and history fields. 


You’ll be working out of the New York Historical Society Museum & Library, conducting research, assisting with public programs, and preparing presentations. You will be responsible for creating a final project, either a research paper or an exhibition proposal, that will allow you to showcase your learning.


If you attend a Title 1 School / are eligible for free or reduced lunch / receive need-based financial aid at a private school, you will also be offered a $700 stipend for the internship. Other participants will be provided an unpaid internship.


Is it prestigious?

The Student Historian Internship Program is highly regarded, with an extremely competitive selection process. Each cohort only accepts 25 students, making it a fairly exclusive program even if it is restricted only to New York metro area residents. You’ll gain significant exposure and networking opportunities, often meeting professionals in the museum and attending special events. Alumni of the program have contributed to important historical research, like mapping feminist activity in the reconstruction era, tracing Chinese American activism, and exploring key figures in American history. The program’s reputation and the New York Historical Society’s standing further enhance your profile, making you a standout candidate for college applications.


Who is eligible to apply?

To be eligible for the Student Historian Internship Program, you just need to meet the following two criteria:

  • Be a high school sophomore, junior, or senior.

  • Be living in and attending high school in the New York City metropolitan area - the five boroughs of New York City, as well as areas of New York State, Connecticut and New Jersey.


How does the application process work?

To apply for the internship, you’ll need to:

  1. Complete the online application form on the New York Historical Society website’s Interfolio system. Currently applications are closed, so we recommend you keep checking the website to see when it opens next

  2. You’ll need to provide the contact information of a teacher, coach or mentor so that the system can obtain a letter of recommendation from them.

  3. The application requires a personal statement that details your interest in the program, and your strengths, passions and motivations that make you a good fit.

  4. If you clear the first cutoff, you will be invited for an online group interview.

  5. Note that there is no application fee!


Pros and Cons to Consider

Pros

  • You will receive practical, in-depth learning: You will get to understand the ins and outs of museum operation, historical research, and exhibition planning at a notable museum directly from professionals.

  • You may earn a stipend: If you meet the prerequisites, you may be eligible for a $700 stipend that can help you cover the costs of attending the internship.

  • The program offers solid networking opportunities: You’ll be interacting with leading professionals in history and museum fields, building valuable connections that can be highly helpful to your future academic and professional pursuits in the field.

  • The internship program is prestigious: The selectivity and small batch size of the program also enhance your overall profile, especially when applying to college.

Cons

  • Admission to the program can be competitive: Since there are only 25 spots available per cohort, it’s better to be prepared with a backup plan in case you don’t get selected for the internship.

  • The program is open to a specific set of students: The internship is only available to New York City metropolitan area residents. If you don’t study and live there, you simply won’t be eligible to apply.

  • The program requires you to commit a solid amount of time: While not strictly a con, it is important to consider that you need to be committed to attending every single session of the internship, and must therefore adjust your summer schedule accordingly.

Our review - should you apply?

The Student Historian Internship Program at the New York Historical Society is a solid opportunity if you’re passionate about a career in historical research or museum management. It offers practical experience, quality mentorship, and networking opportunities that can significantly boost your college applications. If you are serious about pursuing higher education in the field of history, this program can provide you with invaluable skills and experiences. If you study in the New York City metropolitan area and are prepared for the commitment required for the internship, then this is one internship opportunity you should not miss.


Lumiere Research Scholar Program

Alternatively, if you’re interested in conducting in-depth research in history or other fields, you could also consider applying to one of the Lumiere Research Scholar Programs, selective online high school programs for students I 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.


Stephen is one of the founders of Lumiere and a Harvard College graduate. He founded Lumiere as a PhD student at Harvard Business School. Lumiere is a selective research program where students work 1-1 with a research mentor to develop an independent research paper.


Image Source: New York Historical Society logo


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