Versatile Humanists at Duke Announces Internship Program for Ph.D. Students

Deadline: February 24, 2017 

Anyone who has applied for a professional position knows that it’s an exercise in “measuring up.” Do my skills match what the organization is looking for? Can I prove that I’ve got what it takes? Will my application be noticed in the pile of other, competing ones?

The VH@Duke internship program turns that process on its head. On January 19, Duke graduate students from approximately ten academic departments gathered to meet representatives from five local Triangle organizations. These VH@Duke partner organizations didn’t need to be convinced of the many skills that humanities and interpretive social science Ph.D. students offer. They have already created internship opportunities specifically for Duke Ph.D. students in humanistic disciplines. They were excited to have an opportunity to talk to interested students about their internship openings.

Perhaps even more remarkably, the representatives from each organization did not spend their time talking about skills they were looking for. Instead, they described a wide range of new experiences and skills that Duke humanities Ph.D. students—who already bring so much to the table—can gain through a VH@Duke internship. They include:

  • Working in diverse teams
  • Seeing an immediate, concrete impact of your work on local communities
  • Learning the behind-the-scenes workings of nonprofit organizations
  • Envisioning global, practical applications of academic research
  • Using new technology
  • Doing advocacy work for the humanities
  • Communicating through documentary work and social media platforms

If that list has you intrigued, check out the VH@Duke internship program description and call for applications. You can apply for any of eight internship positions with VH@Duke partner organizations. You can also apply for support for an internship you create and propose yourself.

Pre-existing opportunities include

Timing and Financial Support

Internships can be completed in summer 2017, fall 2017, or spring 2018. Students will receive a stipend for participating (ranging from $4,000 to $6,000 depending on the duration of the internship). Internships will require between 15 and 19.9 hours of work per week and will typically last between 10 and 15 weeks. Students may not teach or hold other compensated positions for the duration of the internship.


  • Students must be enrolled full-time during their internship.
  • Students must be in good academic standing.
  • Students are urged to discuss with their advisers and directors of graduate studies the optimal timing for the internship.
  • Students must be pre-approved by their departments and provide a letter signed by both the DGS and the adviser.

To Apply

Complete the online application. Applicants will need three references with contact information, and one PDF file containing the following items:

  • Signed letter of approval from student’s adviser and director of graduate studies
  • Current CV
  • Current copy of Duke transcript or ACES report
  • An application letter that outlines:
    • The student’s interest in the specific opportunity
    • Skills and competencies that will help the student succeed in the position
    • Explanation of how the internship will benefit student’s academic and/or professional goals

Note: Students may apply for more than one pre-identified opportunity, but should submit a separate, customized application letter for each position.

Students proposing their own internship (OPTION 2) should follow the steps above AND provide the following additional information in their PDF upload:

  • Detailed information in the letter of application describing the organization and opportunity
  • A letter of commitment from the host organization, explaining how the internship is of mutual benefit and whether the organization can contribute to the stipend cost of the internship (Note: Host organizations are not required to contribute to the cost of the internship, but such contributions can be an important sign of the organization’s commitment to ensuring that the experience is successful and can enable Duke to increase the number of internships funded)

Selection Process

Applications will be reviewed by representatives of The Graduate School and the Office of the Vice Provost for Interdisciplinary Affairs.

For pre-existing opportunities with Versatile Humanist partners (Option One), the selection committee will forward the most competitive applications to the respective host organizations. Finalists will likely be invited to interview on site in early March.

All applicants will be notified of their status by late March.

During the term of their internship, VH@Duke interns are expected to reserve time in their schedules for monthly cohort meetings on or near campus, and two one-on-one meetings with the director for graduate student advising and engagement for the humanities. At the conclusion of their internships, participants will be asked to reflect on their experiences via the VH@Duke blog (and possibly other media).

Have questions on how to go about this? Please contact Maria Wisdom for advice or suggestions.