The Virginia Center for Civil War Studies provides grants of up to $3,500 to support undergraduate or graduate students at Virginia Tech who are conducting Civil War era internships. For more information, check back here in the spring semester for our call for applications, or email center director Paul Quigley (email@example.com).
Previous recipients have completed internships at organizations including the National Park Service, Glencoe Mansion in Radford, and the American Civil War Museum in Richmond.
Our two summer 2023 interns share their experiences working with National Park Service staff at Fredericksburg and Spotsylvania National Military Park:
Jillian Sasso: I spent this past summer working as a Historical Interpretation and Education Intern at Fredericksburg and Spotsylvania National Military Park. Working at Fredericksburg Battlefield Visitor Center, Chatham Manor, and Ellwood Manor, I handed out maps and brochures, provided directions of the park and surrounding area, and interpreted the history of each site to visitors. Additionally, I researched, wrote, and interpreted my own program about the Fredericksburg National Cemetery. Other specialized duties included doing ancestor research for visitors, operating a cash register, and recording daily statistics at each site.
Over the course of the summer, I learned so much about the history of the park, including information about Civil War battles, colonial and antebellum historical figures, and even topics such as Civil War memory and interpretation. Most importantly, I learned how to work collaboratively with others in and outside of my division, as well as how to meet the needs of every visitor. I even learned how to fire a 19th century musket and operate numerous stations within Civil War cannon drills!
I am hoping to enter a career field in federal intelligence or the National Park Service, so this internship has been highly valuable for my future. On the academic side, this internship has improved my historical research and writing skills, which will be useful for a career in intelligence or public history. It has also helped me improve my social and communication skills, which I can use to improve my future work environment. I am so thankful to Paul Quigley and the VCCWS for sponsoring this internship! It was a great experience for me!
Miles Abernethy: Working with the National Park Service rangers, staff, and fellow interns at Fredericksburg Spotsylvania NMP has only increased my love for learning about the Civil War and gives me new confidence for a future career in public history.
During my two-and-a-half months with the park, I worked in a variety of roles. From leading large groups on overviews of the Battle of Chancellorsville, to explaining the significance of the “Stonewall” Jackson Death Site, and even analyzing the physical and written quality of the parks signage in the Wilderness Battlefield, my experience was underlined by the excellent training provided to us, allowing me to provide top-notch service to the hundreds of visitors over the busy summer season.
To anyone interested in interpreting the Civil War to a global audience, I highly recommend working with the team at FRSP. They made me feel both welcome and useful – a 10/10 intern experience!