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About the Undergraduate Research Intern Program

CESTA's Undergraduate Research Intern Program empowers students to apply technologies across the Humanities and Social Sciences in ways that enhance our understanding of the world.

As Stanford's Digital Humanities center, CESTA cultivates research at the intersection of computing, design, and the Humanities. The Center utilizes digital and computational methods to investigate cultural records, objects, and historical phenomena through space and time. CESTA projects explore the history of technologies, preserve and explain the written and artistic records of peoples across the world, and bring new life to the stories of individuals who helped build America.
The Research Intern Program provides opportunities for undergraduates to work on these projects throughout the academic year. Through structured research training, experimentation with cutting-edge technologies, and faculty mentorship, students develop valuable academic and professional skill sets. Work on lab projects allows students to apply their developing expertise in data science, GIS, and web development in tandem with humanities skills in critical thinking, creative problem-solving, and ethical decision-making.


When can students apply?

In 2020-21, CESTA will accept applications for new undergraduate research interns in late Autumn Quarter for positions in the Winter, Spring, and Summer terms. The announcement is posted on our website and also distributed via social media and email lists, including the academic advising newsletter and

What does the application process entail?

The application process consists of an online appliation, the submission of a resume and cover letter, and a group interview. These components provide us with an opportunity to learn more about student interest, availability, and experience. 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 led by faculty, graduate students, or other researchers.

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 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 Interview

Students selected to participate in the group interview will have the chance to showcase critical and creative thinking related to the digital humanities while working in the dynamic, collaborative environment at the heart of CESTA's culture. 

In sessions of 8-12 students, the group interviews give further insight into candidates' interests, skills, and potential growth areas. Ultimately, they are your chance to show your abilities to solve problems, to clearly present your ideas, and to create a supportive, team-focsued environment for your peers to do the same. 

Students selected for this stage of the application will be contacted with further instructions. 

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 Rearch Interns 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. To learn more about ongoing projects, publications, events, and academic programs explore our website at

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 35 projects annually and new projects being added every quarter, we encourage students to re-apply, especially as particular interests and skills develop! 

How are Research Interns compensated?

Research Interns are supported through academic credit, hourly pay, and stipends. During Winter and Spring Quarters, interns work between 5 to 10 hours per week at CESTA (during normal business hours). During Summer, positions range from full- to part-time (20-40 hours a week, for 10 weeks). Students will have access to faculty and staff mentorship for their projects, in addition to a great working space.

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. Students also acquire new technical and 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 a Research Intern?

To learn more about the kind of work Rearch Interns do, please explore our Summer 2019 Research Anthology and view our brief Intern Spotlight videos on CESTA's YouTube channel: 

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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