Summer Internships 2015

Sun-soaked postcards from Bryn Mawr students

A Postcard From: Elaine Holehan ’16

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blog_profile_pictureName: Elaine Holehan

Class Year: 2016

Internship Placement: The Heidelberg Heritage Society, specifically working with the Museum Committee. The Society is dedicated to preserving the material and cultural history of the Heidelbergs, a grouping of close-knit townships in Southeastern Pennsylvania. In this position, I write their newsletter, videotape tours, garden, set-up displays for the museum, take inventory of and catalog materials, enhance outreach among the museum’s community, and work at special events, all alongside the Committee.

What’s happening? We’d love to hear how your internship is going.

When I first began my internship, I attended a meeting of the Museum Committee, which is specifically the group I am working under. Nervous, I sat as near to my supervisor and the other two women I had previously met when preparing for the start of my internship. Quickly, however, many other members of the Committee began talking to me and asking me about what I am doing in college and why I chose to take this internship. I told them that I am studying archaeology and that I took this internship to find out how a museum is run and to see if this is a career I would like to pursue. One month later, I have begun to understand the amount of work that goes on behind the scenes in running a museum and also a lot about social dynamics that I had not even considered when thinking about any career environment.

Choosing a career path has been the most difficult assignment for me so far in life. I have no idea what I want to do and making decisions about what is next for me has been a struggle. So far, my internship has opened my eyes to another aspect of a career environment that I should evaluate when attempting to make a choice: social dynamics. At my internship, I am surrounded mostly by a lovely group of elderly women and a few men. They all know each other personally, as well as professionally, because the museum is located in and serves a close-knit community. As with many small communities, everyone knows everything about each other. This is reflected in the way the Committee chooses who to solicit for help at events and even for donations. It also plays a strong role in what the members ask of each other. Using me as an example, I have been considered a guest rather than a worker by the Committee. It has taken a lot of convincing for them to feel at ease with giving me trivial assignments. For example, stuffing envelopes is a job that takes a lot of time and quite a few people to be completed efficiently. I expected to have to do this sort of work when I accepted the internship, but when the task came up, the members hesitated when asking me to work on this with them and even said that I only needed to do it if the time was convenient for me and I did not mind doing the job. Of course, I accepted the task and explained that I am here to learn anything and everything that goes into the functions of the museum and that they should feel free to put me to work in whatever would normally need to be done for the upkeep of the museum. Since then, I still have been met with some hesitation from the Committee when giving me tasks, but they have opened up a little more about directly asking things of me. Because the members and I belong to such a small community that interacts frequently, both in and outside of the museum environment, they do not want to seem rude or ungrateful for the service I am providing. I am now tasked with helping them to understand that they are providing a service to me by allowing me to learn under them. This situation has also made me more aware of social dynamics in varying environments and that I should be open-minded about my expectations of the way people will act in new places.

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