Intern Insights

Don't forget to check the July program page for info on this final weekend of July. The August page is also available if you want to plan ahead.

Did you know that yesterday was National Intern Day? I was already working on this post when I found out, so that must mean something, right? Thank you to all of our interns and to the staff and volunteers who serve as mentors, teachers, and supporters.

Interns in horse drawn wagon at Landis Valley July 2017
Keystone interns and PHMC staff took a horse-drawn wagon ride with Joe Schott at Landis Valley during a field trip earlier this month
So we're nearing the end of summer intern season, and I hope that all of our interns have had a great experience with PHMC. Some interns apply through the PHMC Keystone Summer Internship Program and are placed at the State Archives, State Historic Preservation Office, State Museum, or one of our Trails of History sites. Others apply directly to a site that interests them. Our intern mentors work hard to provide real-world experience and exposure to a variety of professional activities and issues. For some, an internship is a brief interlude on the way to another career (let's be honest, internships can be great for figuring out things you don't want to do with your life). For others, an internship helps build a resume and establishes personal and professional relationships that will last long after the summer has ended.

A Facebook post from the Anthracite Heritage Museum (AHM) featuring one of their summer interns illustrates the lasting impact of internships. The post is shown below, but what you don't see are two comments from past AHM interns. One said, "Congrats, Anna! I was one of the first interns there. Best of luck." The second said, "Same here. I was an intern 9 years ago for the museum. I really enjoyed my time there and hope you do too Anna!" I think that speaks volumes about the intern experience, not to mention the connections that social media enables.

Another AHM intern is chronicling her experience via her university website. Amber is working with curator John Fielding to learn about cataloguing museum collections and mounting photos for an exhibit, sharpening her public speaking skills by giving tours and working with public programs, and researching local history about the Lithuanian community (read all about it on Misericordia University's Local History Projects site).

The Pennsylvania Historic Preservation blog recently shared info about Keystone interns spending the summer in the State Historic Preservation Office and a related program that is run in cooperation with PennDOT.

And my thanks to Courtney Goodzinski, interning with Linda Bolla at the Erie Maritime Museum this summer, for sharing about some of her projects. Courtney is working on a master's degree in public history at Indiana Univ. of PA and expects to graduate in May 2018.

Wall of Admirals at Erie Maritime Museum
Wall of Admirals, Erie Maritime Museum
As an intern at the Erie Maritime Museum, I get the opportunity to work on large projects, such as the ARGUS catalog transition and following an artifact being presented to the collections committee in August. While these projects take up a majority of my time, there are moments when I get to take a break and work on smaller projects, such as correcting exhibit displays involving grammatical errors or helping out in the museum store. This week, however, I was able to help redisplay the biographies hanging on the Admiral Wall, located on the second floor. Given Erie's rich naval history, the museum likes to honor and recognize men who have gone above and beyond to serve our country as admirals, and we are proud to recognize ten men from the area who have achieved that ranking. While some of the alterations to the men’s biographies were just changing text format, altering photograph size, or adding additional information, we were able to make a major change to one man’s biography. Matthew J. Kohler was recently promoted to the U.S. Navy rank of Vice Admiral in Suffolk, Virginia. Achieving this new ranking as Vice Admiral and Commander of Naval Information is much deserved, considering that Vice Admiral Kohler has served in multiple tours since 1984. (Adm. Kohler was part of a fighter squadron tour in the 1984 Libyan Strike, served two deployments to Somalia with the Marine Corps 1994-95, and went on several operations to Iraq and Afghanistan from 2001 to 2007.)

Being able to read about Vice Admiral Kohler’s service to our country and his achievements in life was a wonderful break from renaming image files and researching artifacts. It’s stories and projects like this that remind me that being involved in public history isn’t always about the next big, flashy exhibit. Sometimes it’s as simple as making sure we properly honor and share the stories of those who served in the past and preserve the stories of those who are currently serving in order to share them with future generations. This experience is one of many that I’ve participated in while interning, and they all helped confirm that I made the right career field choice. To Vice Admiral Kohler and all others who have served and are continuing to serve our country, thank you for your service and dedication.


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