Liberal Arts Career Services
Liberal Arts Career Services

The University of Texas at Austin - History Department

Fall 2018

Position: Digital Humanities Project Intern
Student: History Senior

During this last semester I participated in the Public History internship under the supervision of Dr. Julie Hardwick and Andrew Akhlaghi. I was working directly for the History Department of the University of Texas to create a project for the 130th anniversary celebration.

I was not the only student in the internship, there were 4 of us total all working on different projects to present at the 130th anniversary party. I was assigned the project of creating a timeline of the History Department. Part of my task was to use a software called ClioVis, a timeline software developed by a professor in the department. We were given a fair amount of free reign in deciding what to do our project on. Andrew had given us a few suggestions but was very open to letting us explore whatever we were interested in.

Every week we met with Andrew as a group to discuss our individual projects, read and critique each other's projects, and discuss the ins and outs of the anniversary party and what our roles would be. We also met with Andrew one on one every week to discuss our personal projects more in depth. Each of the meetings lasted about an hour (like a normal class). On our own time, we then spent hours and hours every week either in the archive centers or interviewing people that could help us gather information to complete our projects.

The day of the celebration we met up in a room in Garrison at 9 am and stayed there until the end of the celebration (4pm) presenting our projects. There were many events going on that day and people weaved in and out of various rooms in the building, all of them held research, panels, faculty led discussions, interviews, or tours of campus and the archival center. When someone entered our room and walked up to our poster or presentation that was when we presented our semester's worth of work.

Position: Digital Humanities Project Intern
Student: History Senior

For the past semester I have been interning with the History Department as a Public History intern. The purpose of this internship was for the 130th anniversary of the department. As interns were to research history about the history department to showcase in November. The department wanted to create research posters to be displayed in Garrison Hall so people who are in the building can look. Regarding my research I mostly worked in the archives of the Briscoe Center of American History and the Nettie Benson Center located in Sid Richardson Hall. We had a research advisor who was graduate student who oversee the work we were producing and guided us through the whole processes.

Our research advisor was flexible about the schedule that was given to us. When doing research in the archives, one does not what they’ll find so having a flexible was incredibly helpful. Every week I dedicated at least 10 hours of doing research for the internship. I was looking for a topic that was like topics I was passionate about and found a History Honors student who was an activist in the late 70s for Chicana issues at UT. After I collected all the information I needed for the archives, I wrote an article about the work I found and had it published.

This internship helped me gather a better understanding how important is to have patience’ regarding research. Patience was the key to finding material that was related to the work that I was doing and I was proud of the work I ended up presenting.

Position: Digital Humanities Project Intern
Student: History & Government Junior

A day in the life of a Public History Intern is filled primarily with research and collaboration. The beginning of the day consists of meeting with my fellow interns and our intern leader. We usually meet early in the morning on campus and discuss our weekly/daily goals and progress. We plan where to take our research projects as a team, with some interns choosing to conduct interviews, while others edit or plan trips to the archives. Our intern head, Andrew sets goals we should accomplish by the time of our next meeting such as completing an allotted word count on our research papers or finding documents to photograph.

Once out of the classroom setting, we are given a large degree of independence on our projects. We pursue documents at the Briscoe Center for American History that are pertinent and interesting to us. We then analyze these documents for exemplary quotes or useful statistics to employ in our papers. A large degree of photographs can also be found which are then used in our articles or research posters. We had to learn how to request files using the system available at the archives which involves box numbers and file numbers.

Another aspect of our internship work is the conducting of interviews or correspondence. Often helpful personalities or the focal point of our research are still living and accessible. In my case, I conducted an interview with an esteemed UT faculty member. I was tasked with coordinating and conducting an effective and professional interview. I eventually built up a relationship with the subject of my research and he was able to provide me with useful quotes and information in my research that I could not have acquired from the archives alone.

Position: Digital Humanities Project Intern
Student: History & Humanities Junior

A day in the life of a Digital History intern depends on the day, really. We have our weekly meetings on Thursdays from 2-4pm, so let’s start there. At our meetings, my fellow intern, Kevin, and I would discuss the work we had done throughout the week with our advisor. This usually included Kevin’s work making Cerego maps for history department professors, my work on ClioVis timelines or tutorial videos for Cerego and ClioVis, and both of our work on our personal research projects.

Kevin’s project involved scraping Twitter for the Russian bot tweets during the 2016 election and analyzing how polarity corresponded to popularity using Python. We talked about how to best go about doing that, what problems he was running into, and what to do with the data. My project was to make a video game about the 15th century Italian event, the Pazzi Conspiracy. It involved traditional research, writing a script, and using C# coding with Unity to make the game itself. There was not much they could help me with about coding the game itself, but we talked a lot about why it is important to use new modes of teaching in history, how to conduct my research as if I was writing a microhistory, and how to overcome all the many challenges and setbacks that come with learning new digital skills.

From the end of our meeting each Thursday until the next one, what Kevin and I worked on was largely self-paced. The internship calls for about ten hours of work per week, so I spread it out across multiple days and alternated tasks so I didn’t get too bogged down. If I was making a ClioVis timeline for an hour or two on Monday afternoon, maybe Tuesday morning I would spend a few hours on building my video game, then another hour on the timeline that afternoon. To get the most out of this internship, you have to be good at time-management and being flexible, both with scheduling and with overcoming unexpected setbacks.

Position: Digital Humanities Project Intern
Student: History & Linguistics Senior 

A typical day in the life of a digital history intern with the University of Texas will vary
depending on the person but there is one single unifying aspect for each of us: we all have a
desire to learn. One of the more appealing aspects of being a DH intern is that the internship will be suited to your needs. There will be work required of you but the rest of the time is yours to follow a specific passion. This will manifest itself in the form of a project, one that will
showcase all of the unique skills that have been picked up along the semester.
 
The work required when you first sign on to become an intern involves making maps.
Using the website Cerego, each DH intern was tasked with creating maps unique to a class in
order to test geographic literacy in the History department. For example, my main purpose
serving as a DH intern was to create several maps throughout the semester for an introductory
history course. This involved using photoshop to clean the maps of unwanted markings/names
and then highlighting the regions upon which the students were tested upon.
 
The second, and more rewarding, aspect was the digital history project which we were
required to do. My project involved working with a dataset of 3 million Russian troll tweets, and
with the guidance of my advisor, I was able to learn the necessary skills to do different types of
analyses on this dataset. This involved working from the ground up in terms of my programming skills, so a lot of time was devoted to learning the programming languages Python and SQL, as well as using Excel for data analysis.
 
Overall, my time as a digital history intern has been one of my most rewarding
experiences at UT Austin and would highly recommend this to anyone remotely interested in the realm of digital humanities or data analysis.

Position: Digital Humanities Project Intern
Student: History Junior 

The public history internship at the University of Texas was a little different than a “typical” internship would have been. Rather than learning about an industry and performing work for a business, the public history internship is centered on academic historical research and writing.

On a typical day, I would be reviewing the primary sources I found in the archives, revising my written work, and maybe adding a little to my writing as well. At the beginning of the internship, I spent much more time in the archives – 2 or 3 hours a day, 2 or 3 days a week – than I did actually writing.  In the archives, I was trawling through history department records and the personal papers of some professors looking for any document that caught my eye. These documents were the ones that formed the basis of my papers. When I had moved on fully to the writing stage, I was working with my co-interns for feedback and submitting my work to my supervisor for suggestions and editing. Then, my work was sent off for publication on the Internet. The last part of the internship focused on preparing for the history department’s 130th anniversary celebration, which consisted of making a research poster for presentation and recording oral history interviews with volunteers from the attendees. I was actually unable to attend the actual event, but I was still involved in the preparations.

The internship site was nominally an office in Garrison Hall, but we really only met there. Most of my work was performed on my laptop wherever I wanted to be or in the archives in the early stages of the internship.

Spring 2018

Position: Digital History Intern, Digital Humanities Project
Student: History Senior

There isn’t really a typical day as a Digital History intern. As the semester went on, our responsibilities evolved and a lot of our work was done from home. Initially, we acted as liaisons for professors as they began integrating Cerego into their lower-division classes. Cerego is a quizzing software based on the principles of space repetition as a memory-enhancing tool. A typical week during this time often involved helping professors create map quizzes, upload these quizzes to Canvas and troubleshoot problems as they arose. We would mostly conduct this business over email, then meet weekly to discuss various Cerego problems. A few times a week, I might have had to meet with professors in person to go over problems they struggled to explain over email, but mostly we worked independently. After assignments were made, we also helped professors make necessary edits as they began to get feedback from students. This phase of the internship only lasted about two months. After that, we transitioned to a more research focus. We met weekly to formulate research questions with our graduate student advisor. We did this by really delving into the history and theory of digital humanities as a field. Once we found questions, he guided us as we began to learn to code. We were all pretty woefully lacking in computer science knowledge, but luckily there also wasn’t a whole lot we needed to learn. This phase often included homework and weekly check-ins on our progress. The last phase has been mostly dedicated to writing and really producing a worthwhile paper from our efforts this semester. This included writing the final paper, making research posters and presenting our work. In this way, the last part of this semester has been much more of a straight learning opportunity, under the eye of someone well-versed in the field. Ultimately, the internship required us to be part-IT specialist, part-researcher, but these two differing duties really did come together in a way that served us nicely when making our final projects.

Position: Digital History Intern
Student: History Senior

This past Spring 2018 semester I served as a digital humanities intern in the Department of History at UT. Digital Humanities is an interdisciplinary field consisting of both historians and digital resource specialists that attempt to create visuals, repositories, digital archives etc to assist in the teaching and preservation of history. As an intern, my responsibility was to help the department carry out it’s faculty concern inspired initiative to increase students’ geographic literacy. This initiative was attractive to me in two ways; as a future educator I felt inspired to help the university fix an issue in students’ knowledge base and as a student trying to broaden my horizons as a professional the potential to pick up new skills was a fantastic opportunity. The internship involved learning a few different new computer skills. The project to increase geographic literacy was executed through the use of an online software called Cerego. I had to learn through practice the ins-and-out of the program including how to design map sets, help professors and TAs embedded the assignments to Canvas. As the semester went on, the interns listened to feedback from professors and students and made adjustments as needed. Meanwhile, the interns got the chance to take lessons with our graduate student supervisor and digital humanities specialist on different areas of interest in how to use technology in individually developed research projects. I decided to base mine around our team project with Cerego and learned mac OS bash language to organize the massive amounts of data from the project and practice data analyzation to say something meaningful about what the students’ did with the map sets. In addition to this, the team had weekly meetings about our projects as a chance to get feedback from each other and help each other learn more skills in the digital humanities field.

Position: Digital Humanities Intern
Student: History Junior

The UT Digital History Project is an excellent way for the ambitious history student to hone his or her technological skills. Under the guidance of Andrew Akhlaghi, PhD candidate and local digital history guru, I spent the first part of my semester implementing maps into a software program called Cerego (conceptually like Quizlet, but with more options for study). These maps were marked in areas which prompted students to identify features such as country/territorial borders, notable cities, rivers, battle sites, etc. Cerego was used this semester for the first time in several UT history undergraduate classrooms as a supplement to the usual course content. It has been noted by several faculty members that their students lack geographical knowledge, and Cerego was enlisted to remedy that problem. How effective it actually ended up being for students, I do not know. One of the two other interns I worked alongside focused on that for her digital history project, so she is the expert for that sort of data.

This brings me to the second part of the internship, which I spent the remainder of my semester on, which was my own individualized digital history project. It was an opportunity to flex my newly discovered Python programming muscle, which Andrew helped us develop by giving us lessons, resources, and guidance. He also informed us that we would be presenting the results of our project at the Longhorn Research Bazaar. This at first seemed insurmountably daunting, but I am now glad for the experience. Not only did I learn to use big data as another perspective (a computer’s perspective) as a part of the conversation in interpreting history, but I was made aware of problems with transparency in how data is collected when looking at other, published research in my area of interest.

Then given the opportunity to present at the research bazaar, I was pleasantly surprised to find that brilliant faculty members and grad students seemed to be as enthusiastic about my research as I was. Overall, it was a wonderful experience which I highly recommend. Through the UT Digital History Project, I learned about education from the educator’s perspective. I was able to see what goes into planning for courses, and the kinds of factors professors consider when determining how to teach the subject matter to their students. I learned of their perception of geographical deficiency among students, ironically a product of technology, which we used technology to solve.

 


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