2020 Summer Internships

Note: The application period has closed, and these internship positions have been filled.

The following nine internships are being offered during summer 2020 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 many kinds of workplaces, including higher education.

Interested? Have questions? Attend one of our informational meetings at the Obermann Center (111 Church St.):
—Weds., December 18, 2019, 4:00-5:00 p.m.
—Fri., January 31, 2020, 12:00-1:00 p.m.

Time Commitment

The internships are planned for 8 weeks in 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.

This time also includes a series of assigned activities, including writing weekly reflections, participating in trainings and other meetings as an intern cohort, and undertaking informational interviews.

The interns are required to attend a daylong orientation before the internship, four skill-building meetings during the internship period , and a final summary debrief. We will also hold an early fall semester showcase to feature the work of our interns.

Students must be fully devoted to the internship during the two months. Therefore, the student should not hold other appointments during this time.


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

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. Interns who drive to their sites will be compensated for mileage.

How do I apply?

Read the project descriptions to see which you might find especially interesting. We also encourage you to visit each organization’s website to learn more about its mission and activities before you apply. You will have the opportunity to indicate two preferred internships; these must be at separate sites. Note that finalists’ materials will be forwarded to the sites, which will contact applicants for an interview.

Applications are due February 4, 2020, by 5:00 PM. 

Before you begin, please collect these materials.:

  • The names of two 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.
  • Your thoughts on these specific areas:
    • 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 75% internship beginning June 1, 2020 and continuing through July 31, 2020.
[DGS electronic signature]


Tuesday, February 4, 2020, by 5 pm


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


Click on each site/internship name for specific information.

Iowa Valley Resource Conservation & Development

Iowa Valley RC&D is a 501c3 nonprofit based in Amana, Iowa. The seven-person team works to grow local economies, strengthen food systems, foster protection and enhancement of natural resources, and develop awareness for the arts, history, and culture. Expertise is in community food systems and creative placemaking. https://iowavalleyrcd.org/

Iowa Valley RC&D does technical work to strengthen community food systems. Often the work done is difficult to explain to the public. It is important to the success of the organization as well as the health and visibility of the food system, that the organization expand its capacity to tell stories. This project will generate creative content to connect with the public in a way that educates, inspires, and shapes behaviors.

Internship #1 – Storytelling and the Food System

Internship #2:  Rural Communities Culture & Culinary Traditions

African American Museum of Iowa

The African American Museum of Iowa’s (AAMI) mission is to preserve, exhibit, and teach the African American heritage of Iowa.  www.blackiowa.org

Internship #3 – Exhibit Oral History and Community Outreach

National Czech and Slovak Museum & Library

NCSML is one of the region’s leading ethnic museums. The NCSML’s 35 staff members are responsible for public programs, educational projects, and world-class exhibits.

Internship #4 – Education Associate

Public Space One

Public Space One (PS1) is an artist-led, community-driven contemporary art organization in Iowa City that aims to provide independent and inclusive spaces for making and presenting art through exhibitions, performances, residency programs, education, artist resources, and advocacy. As one of PS1’s major programs, The Center for Afrofuturist Studies (CAS) supports the creative work of re-imagining new futures for marginalized peoples through community-engaged residencies for artists, writers, performers, and curators of color and public programs and resources related to the intersections of race, technology, and the diaspora. http://www.publicspaceone.com/

Internship #5 – Center for Afrofuturist Studies Partnership & Program Development

Hancher Auditorium

Hancher is a multidisciplinary performing arts presenter committed to connecting artists and audiences with transformational artistic experiences. For 48 years, Hancher has supported the University of Iowa’s mission of teaching, research, and service by presenting the world’s finest performing artists; developing, engaging, and enlightening audiences; initiating and supporting the creation of new works; and providing artistic, educational, technical, human, and physical resources to the University and the people of Iowa. https://hancher.uiowa.edu/

Internship #6 – Audience Development & Student Engagement

Internship #7 – Beyond the Stage:  Community Engagement Liaison

The University of Iowa Labor Center 

The UI Labor Center provides educational programs and research support to Iowa’s working people and their organizations. Since 1951, the Labor Center has acted as a bridge between the University and Iowa’s labor community.  https://laborcenter.uiowa.edu/

Internship #8 – Iowa Labor History Oral Project Assistant 

Internship #9 – Iowa Women in Trades Network Researcher & Outreach