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Rackham Public Engagement Internship Program

Rackham Public Engagement Internships provide summer fellowship support for Rackham students to grow professionally by contributing to projects identified by cultural, nonprofit, governmental, and educational organizations focused on serving the needs of communities and the greater public good.


Students work in part-time roles with staff at their partner site between May and August. A supervisor at your site will guide your work as you contribute your skills and expertise to a project that benefits your professional and academic development, as well as the needs of the organization. Students may apply to one of our partner organizations or apply to propose their own internship site.

Please note: As of February, all internships for summer 2021 are being planned as remote opportunities due to the on-going COVID-19 pandemic. Advanced approval is required for in-person activities. We will update all applicants as new information becomes available.

Students applying for an internship are strongly encouraged to attend two workshops to help you prepare:


Eligibility Requirements

  • 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.
  • Only students enrolled in Rackham programs of study are eligible to receive funding. Please check your eligibility before applying:
  • 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 over the summer to maintain funding.
  • 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 funding for a Rackham Public Engagement Internship.
  • Students may apply to a partner site or propose their own opportunity, but not both in the same year.
  • 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.

Partner Opportunities

Please read the application instructions below carefully. You may apply for up to three opportunities, but need to submit a separate, customized cover letter and resume for each position.

Applicants must submit the following materials through Rackham’s application form:

Cover Letter

Your cover letter (including your full name and contact information) should be addressed to the internship supervisor (listed with each organization). It should be no more than two pages and address your specific interest in the role, project, and organization, including:

  • What are the skills and experience you will contribute to the project?
  • What do you hope to learn from the internship experience?
  • How will you connect your scholarly interests to the project and the organization broadly considered?

Current Résumé with References

  • Current résumé (no more than two to three pages, not a C.V.)
  • Professional references: please provide full name and contact information for three references at the end of your resume.


After Rackham forwards eligible applications to our partner organizations, site supervisors will schedule interviews (in person, by phone, or by video) with students they would like to consider, during the month of March.

Upon completing interviews, site supervisors will offer the position directly to their selected student and notify Rackham staff of their selection.

2021 Positions

  • Ithaka S+R
  • University Musical Society (UMS)
  • U-M Dearborn Office of Metropolitan Impact
  • Washtenaw County Office of Community and Economic Development (OCED)

    Propose Your Own Internship

    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.

    In addition to the general eligibility requirements for the program, students proposing their own internship opportunity need to adhere to these requirements:

    • 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.
    • Positions must be a minimum of three days per week for eight weeks and no more than four days per week for 12 weeks. Stipends are calculated at $20 per hour. The maximum amount that can be requested is $8,000.
    • 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.
    • After being selected, students will be required to submit the following documents:
      • A letter confirming the opportunity from their site supervisor.
      • A site agreement using Rackham’s template.

    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?
    • What has been your connection to this organization and/or staff there? (i.e., prior volunteer or work experience, informational interview, etc.).
    • How many hours per week would you work with the organization?
    • Is the site able to cost-share at some level to support your work?

    Description of Your Interests

    • Why do you want to work with this organization?
    • What skills and experience do you bring to the project?
    • What do you hope to learn from your 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.

Apply for the Internships

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

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.