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About the Undergraduate Research Intern Program

CESTA hires undergraduate Research Interns to work on interdisciplinary research projects throughout the year. The Center for Spatial and Textual Analysis (CESTA) is an open and collaborative research center, home to the Spatial History Project, the Literary Lab, the Poetic Media Lab, Text Technologies, Humanities + Design, and the Chinese Railroad Workers in North America Project, among other initiatives. We work with faculty, graduate students, and postdocs from Stanford and around the world on digital humanities research projects that bring together paradigms from history, geography, literary studies, education, media and cultural studies, sociology, and more. For more information on CESTA’s projects and labs, please visit

To apply, look out for the job announcement sent via email from, Academic Advising Directors, and/or other mailing lists. The announcement is also posted on our website and social media so be sure to check those out during week 5, each quarter. The job announcement contains the project openings and deadlines for that hiring period.

Students submit an application form, cover letter, and resume. These materials provide us with an opportunity to learn more about student interest, availability, and experiences. Applicants who submit their materials by the deadline are invited to participate in a group interview/exercise. Selected candidates are then placed on a research project lead by faculty, graduate students, or other researchers.

To learn more about CESTA opportunities, events, and programs, students can reach out to


How long does it take to apply?

There are four parts to the application: the application form, cover letter, resume, and group exercise. We read each and every application, cover letter, and resume so we encourage students to set aside time to work on the application. 

The Application Form

We recommend setting aside at least 45 minutes to complete the application form. It contains questions about availability, project interests, and includes some short responses. 

The Cover Letter and Resume

The cover letter is a one page document that ties together why you are interested in applying to CESTA, how your experiences and interests are well suited for the project(s) you are interested in, and is a chance to mention anything that is not included in the resume or application form.

If students do not already have a resume or are unsure of how to craft a cover letter, we recommend taking advantage of BEAM’s excellent career services and advice.

The Group Exercise/Interview

Instructions will be sent to applicants in advance of the group exercise/interview. 

What do Research Interns do?

Research Interns engage in various phases of the research process, including traditional and archival research, finding data, creating databases, using computational methods of modeling and analysis, data visualization, and contributing to various forms of publication. For example, depending on the project a student is working on, they may:

  • Use GIS to quantify and map urban development over time
  • Visit library or digital collections to find relevant materials about the lived experiences of Chinese railroad workers
  • Build databases of European travelers to Italy in the 18th century
  • Transcribe medieval documents containing information such as spells, early medicinal remedies, and evidence of pagan elements that have persisted throughout the centuries
  • Develop interactive web platforms that allow users to visualize various humanities data sets and much more

Though faculty develop the initial research questions and projects, students are active participants in research design and may contribute by challenging assumptions, suggesting alternative approaches, and posing new hypotheses.

What projects can students work on?

Our projects range from large multi-year, multi-faculty projects, with multiple Research Interns, to more narrowly focused projects with a single faculty and Research Intern. All projects work with CESTA staff and affiliates in CESTA. Project openings vary as student availability and project status change. Check back soon for a listing of projects with available positions for Summer 2018.

What if I apply and am not hired?

Student demand for projects is high and there are limited positions available. However, students who are not immediately interviewed or placed on a project in the quarter in which they apply can be considered for additional projects as they become available.

With over 30 rotating projects and new projects being added every quarter, we encourage students to re-apply, especially as particular interests and skills develop! 

How are students compensated?

Research Interns are supported through Federal Work Study, independent research credit, stipends, or faculty/grant support. Each of these options are slightly different. In most cases, students who are funded through a stipend will receive a one time payment of $800 for the entire quarter for a baseline of 5 hours per week or a lump sum of $7000 for full-time work during the Summer. Hourly students (FWS or faculty/grant supported) are paid $16/hr and work between 5 to 10 hours per week Fall through Spring or part-time/full-time during the Summer.

How does working for CESTA provide me with academic, research, and job experience?

While working on CESTA projects students gain valuable experience. Students have access to faculty, staff, and graduate student mentorship in addition to a great working space. CESTA provides a community and program that exposes students to relevant on campus tools, people, and resources. Students can gain experience working within their field or topic of interest, or gain experience outside of the realm of their major through project-based learning. Some students even acquire new technical or conceptual skills. While working on these projects students are also practicing critical soft skills such as problem solving, communication, and time management.

What does a typical day look like for an RA?

In Summer 2017, our cohort of new and returning Research Interns worked on a variety of projects within the digital humanities. To learn about their work, check out some of our Research Intern spotlights:

For More Information

If you have any questions about the position or the application process, give us a call at (650) 721-1385 or send an email to


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