December 7, 2016

Versatile Humanists at Duke Internship Program (Summer 2019)

Application Instructions

VH@Duke Internships provide Duke doctoral students in the humanities and humanistic social sciences exposure to work experiences, organizations, and professions relevant to their scholarly interests. Versatile work experiences, carefully chosen and timed, can enrich students’ dissertations, and make them more competitive for both academic and non-academic positions. Internships can also provide humanities scholars with increased leadership ability and confidence, as well as new skills to position them well for future success as junior faculty members, emerging professionals both within and beyond academia, and public intellectuals.

This program provides an exciting opportunity for Duke doctoral students to intern at cultural and nonprofit organizations throughout the Triangle and elsewhere. These are stipended positions and are meant to replace other compensated work (such as research assistantships) during the period of the internship.

During the term of their internship, VH@Duke interns are expected to reserve time in their schedules for occasional group and/or 1:1 checkins (either on campus or videoconference, as the situation allows). At the conclusion of their internships, participants will be asked to reflect on their experiences via the VH@Duke blog (and possibly other media).

See who the VH@Duke interns were, and what they did, in 2017 and 2018.

Read about how one Duke PhD student created her own internship. 

Timing and Financial Support:

Internships are typically taken in the summer, but in special instances (depending on the needs of the student, the PhD program, and the organization), fall 2019 may also be possible. Students will receive a stipend for participating (ranging from $5600-$6,000 depending on the duration of the internship). Students in years 1-5 can expect to receive their usual funding package. For students in years 6 and beyond, tuition will be covered for the term of the internship. All stipend payments will be processed through Duke departmental payroll.

Internships will run from 14-15 weeks total. Interns should expect to work approximately 16 hours per week, with the understanding that special events, projects, or deadlines may sometimes require additional time (but no more than 19.9 hours per week).  Students may not teach or hold other compensated positions for the duration of the internship.  Exceptions may be made in rare cases, but must be approved by VH@Duke.


  • Students must be enrolled full-time during the period of any internship.
  • Students must consult with their departmental advisors and Directors of Graduate Studies about the advisability and optimal timing for any proposed internship.
  • Participating students must be pre-approved by their departments (providing letter signed by both DGS and advisor)

How to Get Started

There are two options for participating in the internship program:

Option One: Create your own internship opportunity at an organization that best suits your academic interests and/or professional goals. (For advice on how to approach prospective employers about internships, see here.)

Please be aware of the following guidelines and expectations as you go about planning a customized internship:

  • The position must be consistent in duration and hours (see “Timing and Financial Support” above) with other VH@Duke internships.
  • The position must be on-site. We expect that interns will spend the bulk of their time at the organization, engaging in face-to-face interactions with colleagues.
  • The work duties must be substantial. Although every position (especially at entry level) contains some element of rote work, the duties you are assigned should challenge you, help you grow as a professional, and allow you to add significant value to the organization.

 Option Two: Apply for pre-existing opportunities with one or more of the following partner organizations:

For both options, please follow the application instructions below.


To Apply

Applications are due by midnight on Thursday, January 31, 2019.

To apply, complete the online application. Applicants will need:

  • Names of three references with contact information (please note: we are not requesting letters)
  • One PDF file containing the following items:
  1. Signed letter of approval from student’s adviser and director of graduate studies (Template permission letter)
  2. Current CV
  3. Current copy of Duke transcript or ACES report
  4. An application letter that outlines:
    1. The student’s interest in the specific opportunity
    2. Skills and competencies that will help the student succeed in the position
    3. 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 it provides.

Selection process

Applications will be reviewed by a committee including representation from the Graduate School, the Provost’s Office, and the faculty.

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

All applicants will be notified of their status in March.


For questions, please contact Maria LaMonaca Wisdom (