Getting to Know History from the Inside: An Intern’s Experience at the National History Center
I interned for the National History Center during the academic year of 2014—2015 as I began the MA program in history at the George Washington University. As a native of nearby Alexandria, Virginia, I previously interned with several Congressional offices on Capitol Hill. I was able to use my previous Capitol Hill experience to help organize three Congressional briefings. I found them to be incredibly informative for Congressional staffers, academics, and members of the media, who gained historical perspective on current events, such as the Ukrainian Crisis, through the briefings.
My favorite project as an NHC intern was preparing for the 2015 Decolonization Seminar, as my Master’s concentration is in imperial and colonial studies. I enjoyed reading over 40 applications as they came in. I was responsible for keeping track of the different components of each application, especially the recommendation letters. I was intrigued by several of the applicants’ accomplishments and was fascinated by how the applicants’ research proposals, many of them in emerging fields, greatly varied. Organizing multiple parts of the applications was a complex task. I now understand how difficult of a process it must be for colleges organizing admissions applications, especially receiving letters of recommendation!
My work was not limited to organizing the applications, however, preparing for the selection meeting was a task in itself. I made travel arrangements for two of the faculty living outside of the DC area, and used Dropbox software to send the completed applications to faculty an important skill I gained that I will likely use for my future career. Finally, sitting in on the selection meeting was the highlight of my Decolonization work since it allowed me to see how each member of the selection committee considers every application.
Throughout my internship, I also worked on restructuring the NHC website using WordPress to make it more user-friendly. As this was my first time working on a website, it was an eye opening experience and showed me how complex managing web content can be. Simple things, such as making sure hyperlinks work, is a must in learning how to ensure a functioning website. In addition to making the website easier to navigate, I wrote an additional resource page for visiting and using the National Archives. This page was created in response for the demand for additional researching information in the resource section of the Center’s website. I consider my reworking of the Center’s website to be my prime achievement of my internship as the changes I made will last well beyond the conclusion of my internship.
I would like to thank Amanda Moniz and the Center’s Director, Dane Kennedy, both of whom I enjoyed getting to know and work with. I am still in the process of discerning what career path to pursue after my upcoming graduation in May 2016, but my internship at the NHC gave me insight into potentially working in government or international relations.
The National History Center Internship Program’s purpose is to expose history students to the varied possibilities for careers in history. Interns work on the Center’s Congressional briefings program, communications, and nonprofit management. The skills they gain during their time with us help them pursue careers inside and outside the field of history. The author of this post, Chris Ring, is a current MA history candidate specializing in imperial and colonial studies at the George Washington University.
This post first appeared on AHA Today.
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