1) Where was your internship and how did you find it?
My internship was with the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum in Washington, D.C. I found out about the internship through research on the museum's website, and through prior visits to the museum.
2) What were your main responsibilities on the job?
My main responsibilities on the job involved interacting with the public. I instructed school groups on the history of the Holocaust, and shared facts and information about artifacts in the Permanent Exhibition in the museum. Often, I was the first point of contact people had with the museum, whether through greeting them outside and explaining the museum, or talking to the school groups.
3) What were the most rewarding aspects of your internship?
The most rewarding aspect of my internship was getting to teach children about the history of Holocaust. Many of the kids I talked to did not know much about the Holocaust and I was able to offer young visitors an overview of its history. It was very rewarding to know that I was helping to introduce the next generation to this difficult, but powerful history. I also discovered new professional interests for my future career, which was exciting.
4) What was your biggest accomplishment?
My biggest accomplishment was becoming comfortable with public speaking. Prior to my internship, I was a quiet, shy person, and did not enjoy talking to crowds. After this internship, which involved daily interaction with museum visitors, I am much more confident speaking in front of audiences. I am glad that I was able to develop this skill, which is important in many careers in public history.
5) What did your internship teach you about being a professional historian? Did anything surprise you?
My internship taught me that being a professional historian in a museum involves much more then just working with artifacts. It involves public interaction, education, and communication, and having all or most of these skills is required in order to do a great job. Historians must be able to work in different fields of study and focus in order to make the biggest impact.
6) Is there anything else you would like to share about your internship experience?
This internship has been, by far, the best ten weeks of my life. I have made lifelong friends, and formed valuable professional connections that can provide me with career references in the future. I also discovered that working with the public is what I want to do with my history degree. I want to teach people about history, not sit at a desk or work with artifacts. I enjoy being around people and watching them discover something new. Overall, this internship was a great learning experience, and I hope that someday I may be fortunate enough to return to the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum as a staff member within the Museum Operations and Enrichment, Visitor Services Department!
August 20, 2015