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Rackham Public Engagement Internships

The Rackham Public Engagement Internships provide resources for Rackham students to engage in opportunities to contribute to work at cultural, nonprofit, governmental, and educational organizations on campus, in Ann Arbor, and in nearby communities like Detroit. Experiences working in diverse career settings enhance students’ research and increase their qualifications for a range of positions inside and outside of the academy.

About the Program

The goals of these internships are to connect graduate students’ disciplinary skills and expertise to make impact outside of their departments, to advance mutually beneficial projects with partner organizations that  serve the public good, and to support students in exploring diverse career paths.

There are two options: applying to work at one of our partner sites or proposing your own internship site. All opportunities are:

  • Part-time (15 to 20 hours per week)
  • Between 8 to 15 weeks during May to August
  • Come with stipends (generally $3,360 to $7,000, based on time commitment)

Some positions require work and commuting beyond Ann Arbor. If you do not have individual transportation, one option is the Detroit Connector bus, which makes stops in Dearborn and Detroit from Ann Arbor.


  • Students must be enrolled during the Winter Term and continuing their studies in the Fall Term to be eligible.
  • Students must be in good academic standing.
  • For doctoral students without other spring/summer funding (teaching, summer research fellowship, etc.), you may be eligible for a supplemental award to support your advancement toward your degree during the term of your Rackham Public Engagement Internship. To pursue this award, you may be asked to provide a letter from your advisor and/or the Director of Graduate Studies in your department. Please note: other funding will not affect your chances of receiving a Rackham Public Engagement Internship.
  • International students may participate in the program, but will need appropriate work authorization to do so for internship sites off campus. No additional work authorization is required for on-campus internship sites. International students should consult with the International Center to discuss what work authorization may be needed in order to participate in an internship.
  • Selected interns must sign a student agreement, complete a work plan using Rackham’s template, and attend a mandatory orientation meeting, as well as three cohort meetings throughout the summer months.
  • Students may apply to both tracks in the same year, but may not apply to more than three total opportunities.
  • Students may apply multiple years, but cannot apply to the same site where they have held an internship previously. To provide opportunities to as many students as possible, sites are also asked to give priority to students who have not previously received a Rackham Public Engagement Internship.

Additional Requirements When Proposing Your Own Internship Opportunity

In addition to the previous requirements, for those proposing their own internship opportunity, applications should adhere to these requirements:

  • There are no geographic restrictions on internship location, but students should make a strong case in their application as to their connection to the organization and place where they seek to complete their internship.
  • Site cannot be one of our current partner organizations.
  • Site must be a nonprofit organization off campus and have at least four full-time staff members.
  • Students will still be a part of the Public Engagement Internship cohort and must attend mandatory orientation meeting and summer professional development meetings with the cohort of Public Engagement interns.
  • The same eligibility requirements for partner opportunities apply.
  • Position must be on-site (i.e., not remote work or telecommuting).
  • Positions must be a minimum of 3 days/week for 8 weeks ($3,360 stipend) and no more than 4 days/week for 12 weeks ($7,000 stipend).
  • After being selected, students will be required to submit the following documents:
    • A letter confirming the opportunity from the supervisor.
    • A site agreement using Rackham’s template.

Apply for the Internships

The application deadline for partner sites is February 26, 2021. Please read the application instructions carefully to ensure your application is complete.

Applying for Partner Opportunities

Please read the application instructions carefully. Applicants must submit the following materials:

Cover Letter

A cover letter (including applicant’s full name, email address, and graduate program) addressed to the internship supervisor (listed with each organization). Your cover letter should be no more than 2 pages and address your specific interest in the role, project, and organization, including:

  • What are the skills and experience you bring to the project?
  • What do you hope to gain from the internship experience?
  • How will you connect your scholarly interests to the project and the organization?

Current Résumé

  • Current résumé (no more than 2 to 3 pages)
  • Professional references: please provide full name and contact information for 3 references along with your resume.

Applying for Multiple Opportunities

Students may apply for up to three opportunities, but need to submit a separate, customized cover letter for each position. This number includes any propose your own opportunities.


Partner organizations will schedule interviews (in person, by phone, or by video) with students they would like to consider during the month of March.

Partner Opportunities

2021 partner sites will be announced by February.

Proposing Your Own Opportunity

For students who have identified a partner organization they would like to work with, Rackham has funds to support a limited number of student-identified internship opportunities. Please read the application instructions and criteria below carefully to ensure your application is complete.

Application Letter

One to two page application letter responding to the following questions:

Description of the Project and Organization

  • What is the organization you hope to work for, what is their mission, and what is the project on which you would work?
  • Which staff member would serve as your supervisor?
  • Is the site able to cost-share at some level to support your work?
  • What has been your connection to this organization and/or staff there? (i.e., prior volunteer or work experience, informational interview, etc.).
  • How many days per week and for how many weeks would you work on the project between May and August?

Description of Your Interests

  • What skills and experience do you bring to the project?
  • What do you hope to gain from the internship experience?
  • How will you connect your scholarly interests and skills to the project and the organization?


One to two page resume that outlines your skills and qualifications.

Review Criteria for Proposing Your Own Opportunity

  • Does the organization and project align with the student’s professional and scholarly interests?
  • Is the project mutually beneficial to both the organization and student’s professional development?
  • Will the work be challenging and help the student grow professionally?
  • Is there potential for the site to become a longer-term partner for the Program in Public Scholarship?

Writing Cover Letters and Resumes

For suggestions on writing cover letters and resumes, please visit the University Career Center, VersatilePhD, ImaginePhD, or this resource from our colleagues at Harvard’s Office of Career Services.

Funding Acknowledgements

Partial funding for these opportunities is made possible by the Jack and Jeannie Thompson Humanities Internship Fund.

Jack and Jeannie Thompson have personally invested in higher education and believe deeply in its ability to transform lives. Jack Thompson received his Ph.D. in history from the University of Michigan in 1976. Dr. Thompson spent the latter part of his career as a professor and dean at both Northwestern University and Oakton Community College in the Chicago suburbs. Mrs. Thompson had a 40-year career in the fields of healthcare, personal and career counseling, M.B.A. admissions, workforce education, executive development and outplacement, as well as mentoring and mediation. Dr. and Mrs. Thompson decided to create the Jack and Jeannie Thompson Humanities Internship Fund to support humanities students completing internships.

Contact the Program in Public Scholarship

1530 Rackham Building
915 E. Washington St.
Ann Arbor, MI 48109-1070


The Program in Public Scholarship is open Monday through Friday, 8:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m.

The office is closed Saturdays and Sundays and on the following holidays: Thanksgiving (Thursday and the following Friday), Christmas through New Year's, Memorial Day, Independence Day (July 4), and Labor Day.

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