The Department of History is launching a pilot grant program that will provide financial support for history majors pursuing internships over the summer. The idea behind the program is to connect intellectual work in the classroom with career and vocational development. Jake Ruddiman, an associate professor of history and a member of the department’s Professional Development Committee, described such development as “experiential learning” or learning that takes place on-the-job and away from the classroom.
“The class-A professors of the history department are working to help students get a foot in the door,” senior history major Zach Triplett said.
In an internship this past summer gained through support from the department, Triplett saw fundamental skills he had learned as a history major — writing, studying and taking notes — translate functionally to the workplace.
“The history department is the first department in the college to provide this backing,” Ruddiman said.
The financial support is provided through alumni generosity, specifically a recent donation that came from the Wake Will campaign. This donation was not earmarked for faculty use and will constitute the “History Innovation Fund” for aid for students.
Through these endowed funds, or what Ruddiman called “seed money,” and the new program, history majors can apply for reimbursement of internship expenses starting in summer 2018 through summer 2020.
“This support covers paid internships, which might not cover the costs, and caters to careers in all fields,” Ruddiman said.
Depending on demand and the amount of funding requested, he estimated that two to four students will receive support each summer.
The department is dedicated to supporting its students in this expanded view of their development and education that extends far beyond the classroom. Ruddiman emphasized a “responsibility to help our students build their professional, vocational potential.”
According to Ruddiman, the program’s mission is twofold: “To provide students with the ability to explore career options as broad as their imaginations through a rich array of internships and to put stories of students in front of students.”
According to the department, the first objective is to support students with opportunity; the second is for students to share their stories, spread awareness and even mentor like-minded students.
Junior Tesia Kempski, who had a funded internship at the Gettysburg National Military Park last summer, commended the history department for “expanding the reach of opportunities” to students.The first applications will be due in April.
History majors must “articulate how their internship connects to their liberal arts education and career education,” Ruddiman said.