Best Practices for Internships as a Component of Graduate Archival Education

Best Practices for Internships as a Component of Graduate Archival Education is a set of suggested guidelines for graduate students, archival educators, and archivists serving as intern supervisors. Sections include recommendations for the nature of work, compensation, agreements, supervisor responsibilities, communication, and evaluations. There are also references to unpaid internships and to post-graduate internships.

The document was drafted by a subgroup of the SAA Council based on Best Practices in Public History: Public History Internships, prepared by the National Council on Public History Curriculum and Training Committee in 2008.  Prior to submission of the document to the SAA Standards Committee, drafts were shared with the general SAA membership (via the SAA website, In the Loop, and Twitter and Facebook feeds) and with specific component groups identified as having a direct connection with the issues (College and University Archives Section, Archival Educators Roundtable, Archives Management Roundtable, and Students and New Archives Professionals Roundtable).

Fewer than 20 comments were received.  The majority of comments suggested other topics that might be addressed within the best practices document, including unpaid internships, undergraduate internships, and use of volunteers. The drafting group considered these comments and 1) added language specifying that unpaid internships are not acceptable, particularly as a replacement for paid staff, and 2) determined that, given the complicated nature of these situations, there should be an effort to address the issues of undergraduate internships and use of volunteers separately and directly.  That work is now underway.

Several commenters requested additional specific information on preferred internship duration and compensation amounts.  The drafting group chose to propose broad parameters to account for the wide variety of graduate archival education programs and repositories involved in offering internships.  In response to one comment suggesting that only paid internships are acceptable (i.e., granting of academic program credit is not acceptable), the drafting group determined that this position is untenable given the ways in which graduate programs currently are organized.

SAA Council Approval/Endorsement Date: 
January 2014. Next Review Date: January 2017.
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