Washington DC aerial view
Learn about the wide-ranging internship opportunities our students have had recently!

Some adages, however old, nonetheless remain true.  The city of Washington, D.C. really does offer the richest array of opportunities for life-changing, career-prospects-enhancing internships, and that is a big draw for students discerning college choices.  No fewer than 80% of Catholic University students do at least one internship during their undergraduate years, and graduate students increasingly find placements as well.  Although the stereotype is that “internship” in Washington means politics and government, science and technology, or the arts, history students have a wide scope from which to choose as well.  Here is just a small sampling of the kinds of experiences our students have had recently, in D.C. and beyond.

The covid pandemic did not curb internships, and many of our students’ recent placements proceeded on a distanced basis.  In fact it had the unexpected consequence of widening the scope of choices that our students had, allowing them to participate in internship work over longer distances (as you'll see, over potentially very long distances).

Laura Roa (History and German Studies double major, Class of 2022) interned during the Fall 2020 semester at the Heurich House Museum in D.C., originally the home of Christian Heurich (1842-1945), owner of one of the largest breweries in the city and now a testament to the enduring legacy of German-Americans in Washington and the nation.  Laura says: “Particularly impactful to my experience was helping to develop an upcoming exhibit for the Heurich family’s household staff.  I contributed in two capacities: first, by conducting biographical research on a selection of staff, whose names were derived from the source materials of the Heurich family, and second, by helping to compile a database of household staff addresses for the Museum’s future exhibit, which will feature a mapping resource based on the information. I developed educational content for Heurich House’s Kids in the Castle program, a virtual event for younger children that educates them on the history of the House and themes pertaining to the mission of the Museum, including local history, immigration, and inclusion.”

Joseph Mitchell (B.A. 2021) spent part of the Fall of 2021 in the Library of Congress’s Archives, History, and Heritage Advanced internship program (AHHA), a paid 10-week internship.  At the outset of his placement, he reported “The internship is being run remotely (amusingly, the only time I have been to the Library of Congress in person so far was to get my fingerprints taken for the security check), but the project I applied for was part of the manuscripts division.  I’ll be working with digitized copies of George Washington’s Farm Reports, so I’m going to need to apply my best 18th century reading skills to get through them, I’m sure.”

Magdalene Jensen (B.A. 2021), who is now studying for an M.S.L.I.S. degree in Library and Information Science with a Data Science concentration, also interned at the Library of Congress: in her case, in the summer of 2021 as part of the Library’s Junior Fellows Summer Internship Program, which likewise took place virtually.  Maggie interned in the Library’s Manuscripts Division, and her projects included analyzing web metrics for the Library’s digital collections and compiling a literature guide on presidential family correspondence, specifically letters between presidents and their children.  She reflects: “When you see a historical object, it’s so much more real than what you see in a textbook.  You can learn all about George Washington and that’s great, but when you look at a letter he wrote in cursive or read letters he wrote to his friends and family, it helps you to imagine who he truly was.”  (Read more about Maggie’s internship here.)

Others among our history students found internships further afield.  During the summer of 2021, Abigail Baxter (Class of 2023) had an internship in Lancaster, Pennsylvania, at the local history museum. The museum, LancasterHistory, encompasses a few historical sites, including James Buchanan’s Wheatland and Thaddeus Stevens’s home and law office in downtown Lancaster.  Abigail says “I worked primarily on the Stevens and Smith site, which is still in development, doing research on who may have lived there with Stevens (family, domestic staff, or otherwise), ownership of the site, and the different households that occupied the site before or after Thaddeus Stevens’ time.  Overall, I learned about archival research, the process of preserving and turning a historic site into a museum, and the wide variety of roles present in the field.  It was a great introduction to work in the museum world!”

Perhaps as far afield from D.C. as it’s possible to get was the internship that Julian Seethal (B.A. 2020) had during the summer of 2020.  Julian – who is now a student in law school at the University of Miami – worked for the Centre for Historic Houses of India at OP Jindal Global University in Sonipat, India.  The Centre’s mission is to offer educational programs as well as a consultancy related to historic houses and the heritage sector in India, promoting stewardship and advocacy for historic houses.  Julian says that the Centre “does work with several palaces and historic houses across India to do things like online lectures, research projects, even craft preservation initiatives.”  (You can learn more about this work from a video that Julian helped to produce, available here.)