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About the Undergraduate Research Intern Program

The Center for Spatial and Textual Analysis (CESTA) applies technologies across the Humanities and Social Sciences to enhance our understanding of the world.

CESTA provides students with internship opportunities throughout the academic year that allow students to combine humanities and technology. Through project work, structured research training, and professional mentorship, students develop valuable academic and professional skill sets. Students 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.
As Stanford's Digital Humanities center, CESTA cultivates research at the intersection of computing, design, and the Humanities. In the Center, faculty and staff execute research which explores the humanities in a cohesive, data-centric fashion. The Center utilizes digital and computational methods to investigate cultural records, objects, and historical phenomenon through space and time. 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. To learn more about our projects, publications, events, and academic programs explore our website at


When can students apply?

CESTA recruits for new undergraduate research interns twice a year. The application for Winter-Spring positions opens around week 5 of Autumn Quarter; the application for Summer positions opens around week 7 of Winter Quarter. The announcement is posted on our website and also distributed via social media and email lists, including the UAR Newsletter and

What does the application process entail?

There are four parts to the application: the application form, cover letter, resume, and group interview. These components 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.

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 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.

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 students 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 an RA?

In Summer 2018, our cohort of new and returning Research Interns worked on a variety of projects within the digital humanities. 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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