Elizabeth Howland Smith Internship Program
The Providence Preservation Society welcomes student interest in the Elizabeth Howland Smith Internship Program during the summer of 2023. This paid internship provides career exploration opportunities for curious students from backgrounds historically excluded from jobs in the fields of historic preservation and cultural heritage. Students will explore key areas of our operations such as advocacy, architectural history, public engagement, communications, and/or nonprofit administration. Candidates are not required to have previous interest or experience in preservation or related disciplines.
Interns will play an important role in advancing one or more areas of PPS’s mission. Interns will work closely with staff and devote approximately half their time to training, participation in daily operations, and general contributions to ongoing work at PPS. The remainder of their time will be devoted to work on an independent project, to be developed in consultation with their supervisor. Ongoing career mentorship is woven throughout the internship experience. Successful interns will possess strong writing and communication skills, an enthusiasm for making history accessible to the public, intellectual curiosity, and good humor.
There is an opportunity for this internship to be offered in a hybrid format, with emphasis on in-person hours in the PPS office. Interns can expect to interact with members of the public and PPS’s professional community. As part of the internship, students will produce one piece of substantive writing (report, blog post, presentation, etc.).
PPS offers internship experience in the following areas. Our needs vary from year to year, and each intern’s scope of work will be refined in consultation with staff.
- Conduct research on PPS properties and Providence architecture and cultural landscapes
- Attend and report on public meetings
- Contribute to advocacy efforts, ranging from shaping historic districts to supporting relevant public policy and property-specific advocacy
- Process archival material and support the growth of PPS’s research and resource materials
- Expand the information available on the Online Guide to Providence Architecture
- Support the Most Endangered Properties program: Solicit and research nominations; prepare supporting documentation; prepare press releases and coordinate program-related publicity
- Support the Preservation Awards program: Coordinate with staff to assist in the design and content of the nomination form; coordinate mailing and solicitation of nominations from general public, membership, architects, developers, nonprofits and others; assist with the vetting of nominations
Programs & Events
- Assist in the planning and development of events, including market and topical research, speaker identification and outreach, and formative evaluation
- Support programs and events (ranging from walking tours to a multi-day academic symposium), including content delivery, ticketing, set-up/break-down, wayfinding, evaluation, etc.
- Contribute to press releases, marketing copy, and other public relations efforts
- Develop outreach and promotional strategies to reach new audiences
- Design collateral and public-facing materials, including printed programs, handouts, signage, and flyers. Distribute materials as required.
- Identify programmatic topics and themes for future development
- Maintain, improve, and expand online content through a variety of media
- Contribute to social media content and campaigns
- Document programs and events via photo and video
- Research, write, and post about current initiatives and activity
- Develop concepts and content for new features on PPS website and e-communications
- Identify strategies to attract and communicate with new audiences
- Inform interpretive and wayfinding signage and materials on the PPS campus
How to Apply
This internship is open to rising high school seniors and college students who have not yet begun their junior year. Applicants must:
- Be of a group traditionally excluded from or underrepresented in preservation and heritage careers, including, but not limited to, first-generation college students, students of color, and LGBTQ+ students;
- Reside or attend school in Rhode Island; and
- Be a United States citizen or permanent resident.
Time Commitment & Compensation
Interns work a minimum of 20 hours per week at a rate of $15.00/hour. Occasional weekend and evening hours may be required. Holidays and other time off are not paid. Housing is not provided. The 10-week internship typically begins the first week of June and ends in late August, with exact dates to be determined at time of offer.
Applicants must be rising high school seniors, rising college freshmen, sophomores, or juniors. A complete application consists of:
- A short personal statement (600 words max.) that outlines areas of interest and experience;
- A resume of no more than two pages;
- Contact information for two references.
Please send all materials in a single PDF to firstname.lastname@example.org. Applications are due by 8:00 AM on April 3. PPS is an equal opportunity employer.
Founded in 1956, The Providence Preservation Society (PPS) works to support and advocate for historic preservation, thoughtful design, and people-centered planning. PPS is one of the nation’s oldest preservation organizations and is supported, in part, by 500 local and regional members. Over more than 60 years, PPS has accomplished its mission through education and advocacy and has established itself as a leader in citywide planning and preservation. For more information about PPS, visit pvdpreservation.org.
About Elizabeth H. Smith
Elizabeth Howland Smith (ca. 1822-1898) served as the beating heart of the Meeting Street Primary School for nearly 50 years, first as the school’s assistant as a teenager and eventually advancing to the position of principal. She was a revered figure in her community – the first Black woman public school teacher in Providence and an active participant in civic life – and personally guided generations of students of color through their education. Under Elizabeth Smith’s leadership, the Meeting Street Primary School became one of the most respected schools in Rhode Island. The school was an invaluable resource for Black families in 19th-century Providence, a source of community pride and social advancement, and Smith was its champion.
From her fight for civil rights to her charitable endeavors, Smith uplifted Rhode Islanders who faced obstacles to education, opportunities, and meaningful work. And despite her long and accomplished career as an educator, she died penniless and alone and her legacy has been almost completely forgotten. In naming our paid internship program after Elizabeth H. Smith — who led the schoolhouse that PPS now calls its headquarters — we hope to call attention to her lifetime of educational service and restore some piece of her legacy.