Paid internship allows students to discover Appalachian history


Photo courtesy of David Trowbridge

A student uses Clio in Huntington to view a historic protest on Fifth Avenue.

An online history platform used by more than 100 universities and about 500 organizations is offering students a chance to earn a $1,000 stipend while discovering Appalachian history this summer or fall semester.

The deadline is May 1 for applications to a paid internship with Clio, a free and open platform built at Marshall University that connects people to the historical and cultural sites around them, said David Trowbridge, creator of Clio and a Marshall history professor. 

The program requires interns to “write and edit entries for historical and cultural landmarks, museums, historical markers and historic buildings in West Virginia and Appalachia,” Trowbridge said. 

“Interns might also focus their work towards the creation of walking tours that share the history of monuments, historical markers, art galleries, museums, and historical buildings in a particular city or region,” he said. 

Interns can work from any location, conducting research using telephone calls, interviews and online sources, as well as resources at local libraries and archives, Trowbridge said. Interns will need to complete an average of 12 hours over a 12-week period, but there is some flexibility in these hours, he said. 

Trowbridge said he will select up to six interns for the summer and fall and will make that decision based on the applications, which will consist of a cover letter and short writing sample.

In their cover letter, individuals applying for the paid internship should detail their interest in the position and the kinds of entries and/or walking tours they would like to create, he said. 

“While all areas and topics are equally important, these letters will be judged based on their capacity to communicate the intern’s preparation and commitment to completing the internship successfully which entails creating and/or editing entries and walking tours that are factual, well-organized, and educate the public,” Trowbridge said. 

When students have completed the internship, they will earn a $1,000 stipend. Additionally, students can earn undergraduate or graduate credit through the internship, he said. 

These paid internships, offered through a grant from the National Endowment for the Humanities and support from the Maier Foundation in Charleston, West Virginia, are limited, Trowbridge said. 

He said he wants to make sure the opportunity is given to “the absolute best students.”

“You don’t have to be a history major,” Trowbridge said. “You simply have to be an earnest student who is committed to creating the very best content that would guide people to the history and culture that surround us here in Appalachia, that’d be committed to the research process, willing to make phone calls, conduct interviews, someone who’s a thoughtful student, a good writer and willing to revise existing entries as well as their own work.”

Trowbridge said the most important thing students gain from a Clio internship is the skill set— research, writing, editing, revision, attention to detail, organization and learning to think from the perspective of the reader.

He said Clio interns will come out of the experience with a body of published work they can put on their resume, as each Clio entry is published under a Creative Commons license that requires attribution for authors, and they will also have a natural networking opportunity. 

“Because Clio is an open and interactive public history website, students will also develop contacts with local residents, archives, museums, galleries and historical societies as they work to create and improve entries that connect the public to well-written and concise summaries of historical and cultural sites,” Trowbridge said. 

In addition to the paid internship, Clio offers unpaid internships that give students the opportunity to complete research and create and edit entries not limited to the Appalachian region, while still earning upper level college credit, Trowbridge said.

James Morris, a junior literary studies and creative writing double major, is one Marshall student participating in the unpaid Clio internship this semester. 

As a Clio intern, Morris has worked on entries for sites including the Great Wall of Los Angeles in California and the William Edgar Haymond House in West Virginia, and has also done some editing of other entries. 

“I did Clio because I’m visually impaired, and Clio allows me to work anywhere at any time for when I need to to get the hours for the week,” Morris said. “And I also did it for I wanted an internship to get some practice with technical writing and research and the other forms of writing and work that Clio entails.”

Morris said he has improved upon his grammar, looking for research sources and findings ways to determine if the source is reputable, making himself work, motivating himself and figuring out what is best for him as a Clio intern. 

“The most important characteristic is someone who’s a self-starter,” Trowbridge said. “A lot of internships are nine to five. You show up at a physical place. You can’t be late. With this, there is the freedom to work from home, maybe travel a little bit if you wanted to— you don’t have to, but sometimes students want to maybe drive to get an interview from someone in Charleston, eastern Kentucky or something. But they need to be self-started in that it’s going to be up to them to get the work done.”

Students can find the application for the paid Clio internship by accessing JobTrax through the Resources/Tools tab on the menu of their MyMU, and those interested in the unpaid Clio internship may contact Trowbridge. 

Jesten Richardson can be contacted at [email protected]