On Thursday, September 8, 2016, the Department of History and Art History hosted its annual Undergraduate Welcome Reception at University Career Services with support from University Life. The reception offered students a chance to mingle with faculty and catch up with fellow students. The focus of the event, however, was an animated discussion of the benefit of internships for History and Art History Majors. Professor Angela Ho, Internship Director for Art History, discussed the rich range of internship opportunities for Art History majors at major public art museums as well as private art galleries in the Washington D.C. area. Professor Suzanne Smith, Internship Director for History, explained how she has developed on-going relationships with a number of local institutions including the Fairfax County Circuit Courthouse Historic Records Office and the City of Alexandria’s Old Town museums to insure that GMU History majors have a ready source of meaningful internship opportunities.
The most exciting aspect of the gathering was hearing from students who have recently completed internships and could explain the benefits. From the History major, Georgia Brown described her decision to change majors from Accounting to History as a result of her interest in internships. After obtaining a position at the Fairfax County Circuit Courthouse, Georgia began indexing slave records from will books and other legal documents in the archive. Her initiative on this task grew into a year-long project that resulted in not only coverage of her work in the Washington Post, but a chance to present her findings to professional historians and archivists at the Virginia Forum Conference. Megan Glenn described her efforts to obtain an internship at the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum, which resulted in a position in Visitor Relations. Megan’s meaningful experience engaging with guests at the museum have inspired her to pursue a career in public history.
From Art History, Hannah Matangos explain how she made her dream of working in an art gallery in Florence, Italy a reality by simply Googling, “Florence, Italy, Art Gallery, Internship, PLEASE!” After searching on the web, Hannah found a way to apply for a wonderful international internship that gave her the chance to travel to Florence, work in a gallery, and improve her skills in speaking Italian. Sierra Medellin concluded the discussion with the inspiring story of how she was able to turn her internship in archival photography at Mount Vernon into a fascinating full-time job! Medellin is now working at the Mount Vernon and developing new skills in 3-D archival photography of historic artifacts.
All in all, the Undergraduate Welcome Reception was a huge success and a testament to the fact that internships are a vital part of the History and Art History major and a useful way to make the transition to a professional career.
September 13, 2016