2019 Summer Internships

The application period is closed.

As part of The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation-funded Humanities for the Public Good initiative and with the generous support of the University of Iowa Graduate College, several internships are being offered during summer 2019 to graduate students seeking PhDs in humanities departments at the University of Iowa. Students in social science departments that include a humanities focus or qualitative approaches, such as anthropology, communication studies, and relevant areas in the College of Education, may also apply.

The purpose of the program is to offer graduate students the opportunity to explore how their academic training might translate into a variety of professions and workplaces. We have worked with partners to find meaningful opportunities that will help scholars learn to hone leadership, communication, project management, curation, and other talents that are valued in a host of workplaces, including higher education.

Time commitment

The internships are planned for 8 weeks, typically June and July. Students should expect to work 30 hours a week. This time may include occasional evening or weekend events as deemed necessary by the organization but will mainly include regular weekday hours.

  • The interns are required to attend a daylong orientation before the internship, three-four meetings during the internship period to reflect on the experience, and a final gathering of interns and partners to assess the program with us at the end of the internship. We will also hold an early fall semester showcase to feature the work of our interns and community partners.
  • Students must be fully devoted to the internship during the two months. Therefore, the student should not hold other appointments during this time.

Scope of work

  • Organizations have designed projects especially for our interns. You will find descriptions of each project and the skills required or desired in the sidebar to the right. At the beginning of each internship, the graduate student and the organization will use this description as a starting point and come to an agreement about the scope of the project that fits both the student’s skills (those the student already possesses and those that will need to be learned and refined) and the organization’s needs.


Interns receive a $5,000 stipend. Our community partners will receive $3,000 to support the work of the intern.


Graduate students enrolled in PhD programs of humanities or humanistic social sciences departments at the University of Iowa and who are in good standing in their programs are eligible to apply. Post-comps students will be especially well-positioned to take advantage of this opportunity, since they will have finished course work and will still be shaping plans for their dissertations.

“The term ‘humanities’ includes, but is not limited to, the study and interpretation of the following: language, both modern and classical; linguistics; literature; history; jurisprudence; philosophy; archaeology; comparative religion; ethics; the history, criticism and theory of the arts; those aspects of the social sciences which have humanistic content and employ humanistic methods; and the study and application of the humanities to the human environment with particular attention to reflecting our diverse heritage, traditions, and history and to the relevance of the humanities to the current conditions of national life.” –National Foundation on the Arts and the Humanities Act, 1965, as amended

A note about development

We encourage all graduate students to develop an “individual development plan” to plot a thoughtful course through graduate school. For humanities students, ImaginePHD is an especially useful tool. In consultation with your graduate advisor and other mentors, you can use ImaginePHD or similar tools to help you decide when an internship might serve you best as you explore the exciting range of career options that are open to humanities scholars. In your letter of application, be sure to explain why the timing is right for an internship.

How do I apply?

Read the project descriptions by clicking on the links to the right (or below, on mobile devices) to see which you might find especially interesting. We also suggest that you go to each organization’s website to learn more about its mission and activities before you apply. Note that some organizations propose several opportunities.

You are welcome to apply for opportunities at up to three sites; in fact, we encourage you to apply to at least two sites to expand your chances of being accepted. If you wish to apply for two or three different internships, they must be at different sites, and you must submit a separate letter of interest for each one via our online application (see below). Please note that we will share your applications with staff at each internship site for which you submit a letter of interest. 

Apply Online

Complete our online application, making sure to submit separate letters of interest for each site (maximum of three) where you would be interested in working. Please keep in mind that our community partners will be on the selection committee and will thus be part of the audience for your application.

Before you begin, please collect these materials.:

  • The names of three references with contact information. Please do not ask for letters. Instead, ask your references if they can speak for you and share a copy of your CV and application narratives with them. One of these referees must be your dissertation director or main academic advisor.
  • A current CV of no more than two pages.
  • A letter of interest of no more than 300 words that describes
    • your interest in the specific internship,
    • the skills and competencies that you would bring to the organization and that would prepare you to succeed in the internship, and
    • the reasons that the internship would benefit your academic work and/or advance your professional objectives.
  • IN ADDITION, please ask your Director of Graduate Studies to indicate his/her support for your application by emailing the following to obermann-center@uiowa.edu:

As the Director of Graduate Studies in the Department of [DEPT NAME], I affirm that our PHD student [NAME OF APPLICANT] is making good progress through our graduate program. I endorse this application for a 50% graduate assistantship beginning June 1, 2019 and continuing through July 30, 2019.
[DGS electronic signature]

Selection process

A selection committee that includes UI faculty and staff as well as representatives of the partner organizations will review the applications. Finalists may be asked to interview in person at the host site before a final selection is made.


Tuesday, April 9 by 5 pm


Contact Obermann Associate Director Jennifer New at jennifer-new@uiowa.edu.