Why do an internship?

What was your last summer job? In today's highly competitive job market, an internship (paid or unpaid) or volunteer work will get you ahead of the herd. Why work at a dead-end job when you can be building up your résumé? An internship will allow you a peek into what you may (or may not) look forward to upon graduation. The internship will help you decide what kind of historian you want to be--or not--and will you make up your mind about whether you should apply for graduate school. You may be happy as a teacher. You may hate museum work. You may find out that your true passion is public history. An internship will help you decide. 

If you are ambitious and driven, think EARLY about this. Your sophomore summer year is best spent interning in Washington, D.C., Madison, Chicago, or the Twin Cities--not back home with your High School buddies or arranging a display table at the Mall. You will develop real-life skills. During the day, you experience the hustle and bustle of your career, help staff prepare for meetings, redo their websites, do research and filing (and yes, you will do grunt work), but if you impress your supervisor or mentor with your work, you can count on a great letter of recommendation. Your internship experience may open doors to further professional development. It may bag you your first job. Or, it may help you realize that your talents are best put to work elsewhere.

Make the most of your internship. At night and on weekends, you can socialize with other interns, or check out the cultural sites of interest. Travel--learn who you really are. You will meet other ambitious, driven people like yourself; you will begin to build up the network of friends and contacts needed to succeed professionally. Get an internship! Learn how to put together a museum exhibit, help on a community heritage project, learn the ins and outs of grant-writing, design a tour, learn how to interpret a historical site for visitors, tutor, teach, translate, edit copy . . . there are many possibilities.

Recently Completed Internships:


  •  Area Research Center, Murphy Library, UWL
  • Hmong Mutual Assistance Association, La Crosse
  • City of La Crosse Planning Department
  • Wisconsin Masonic Library and Museum
  • Wisconsin Veterans Museum
  • Neville, Wisconsin Public Museum
  • Chippewa Valley Museum, Eau Claire
  • District Office of Congressman Ron Kind
  • Wisconsin Historical Society
  • Madden and Madden, PA
  • La Crosse Public Library
  • La Crosse Children’s Museum
  • Villa Louis, Wisconsin Historical Society Historic Site
  • Jackson County Historical Society
  • UW-Madison Film Archives
  • Smithsonian Institution
  • Shawnee Indian Mission State Historic Site, Kansas Historical Society


How to find an internship position: 

Think strategically: take a related course in the fall or spring of your sophomore class BEFORE you apply for the internship. This way, you'll have some skills to offer, and your professor can talk up your class project in the letter of support she or he writes for you. You could also volunteer to transcribe interviews at UWL's Oral History Institute or perhaps help out at the Mississippi Valley Archeology Center, at the Murphy Library's Rare Book Room, or at WLSU Radio. Talk to your advisor--or explore any of the possibilities on this website.

There are a number of other ways to find a position. Take advantage of these resources!