Nelson Menjivar ’19, a Bethel History major and Philosophy minor, was named to the 2018-2019 cohort of the INCE Museum Fellows at the Minnesota Historical Society. The program includes a fall course at MNHS, a site visit to museums in Chicago, a paid internship next spring, and ongoing mentoring after the program concludes.
In addition to letting students explore museum-related careers, the INCE program
is designed to engage students in studying the challenges related to the underrepresentation of communities of color and American Indian Nations in historical organizations and public history graduate programs. Communities need to “see themselves” in the work of cultural organizations in order to identify with their missions.
A native of West Saint Paul, MN, Nelson currently serves as a teaching assistant with Bethel’s Christianity and Western Culture program. He says that he was particularly excited about the INCE program because it offered “the chance to work with museums and professionals who not only study history, but also find a way to present it to the public… I’m excited to get the internship started and use the valuable tools I’ve picked up at the Bethel History department!”
Today we revive our occasional series of interviews with Bethel History majors who have interned with local organizations. Last fall Lauren Gannon ’17 helped the Minnesota Historical Society prepare for this year’s World War I centenary. Lauren was part of the 2015 edition of our WWI travel course with Prof. Gehrz, who will be taking a group of 25 Bethel students to the Minnesota History Center this Saturday for the grand opening of the new “WW1 America” exhibit.
Only about half of our students actually come to Bethel declaring a History major, but you made that change a little later than most. Can you tell us about your decision to double-major in Media Production and History?
I became a History major by happy accident. I came to Bethel as a Media Communication major, hoping to minor in history, and other subjects if I had room. I didn’t necessarily intentionally take History courses at first; I just took classes I was interested in, and they just happened to be history courses. I have always liked history, so it wasn’t a huge surprise that these classes interested me, but I was surprised spring of my junior year, when I realized that I only needed three more to have a History major. I was ecstatic when I discovered this because I felt that I had made great relationships with professors and students in the History Department, and it felt nice to belong there. I also like the challenge of mixing my two majors in different projects, like making films on a historic topic or adding a film aspect to my history projects and research.
How did you become an intern with the Minnesota Historical Society? Any advice for students applying for that kind of program?
To incorporate both my Media Production and History skills, I thought the museum environment would be ideal. I could incorporate visual storytelling with my love for learning and studying history. I had been encouraged by my parents, mentors, and friends to look at the Minnesota History Center since they have a great and organized internship program. Their positions are posted online and it is a relatively easy application process, albeit incredibly competitive. I applied in the summer of 2016 for about five position for the fall and was thrilled to be offered one of them: WWI Daybook Research Assistant!
I think what set me apart was my previous experience. I had studied WWI abroad with the History Department in 2015, and the memoir I wrote for the trip was published here at AC 2nd, so I had some experience writing and studying the topic. I provided a link to my memoir and described the trip in my resume and cover letter for the application, and my supervisor asked me about it in the interview.
So my advice for students applying for something like this is to not be afraid to show and elaborate on your personal interest and give examples of your work. This will set you apart from other applicants who are just simply “interested.”
What kind of work did you do for MNHS? What was most exciting or enjoyable about it? What was challenging?
As a WWI Daybook Research Assistant, I digitized historical documents and artifacts, and wrote short, descriptive blogposts for the WWI Daybook blog, commemorating the centennial of the event, that will publish every day that United States was in the war. I really loved handling the documents and getting to explore the collections of the MNHS. I especially enjoyed reading personal letters and accounts, learning the stories of these individuals from all over Minnesota and how they were impacted by the war.
Like all internships, there is an element of monotony. Finding and scanning a document, then writing a short blogpost, and repeating this day in and day out did get a little old sometimes. However, every time I felt my work getting redundant, I would remember that I am handling documents that were written by people who lived unique lives 100 years ago, and I would get excited again. If you are someone who loves that personal part of history, you know what I am talking about.
What did you take away from your experience as an intern?
I learned a lot about the museum as an institution and place of employment. If not the biggest, Minnesota Historical Society is one of the biggest organizations of its kind in the United States. People in Minnesota love their history. However, some Minnesotans’ stories are not often told by the museum. Therefore, I was also challenged to advocate for and tell the story of the people and communities that may not be represented by the museum, as well as challenged to make relationships with and gain the trust of communities that had been hurt by the museum. I am also encouraged by the effort that MNHS is putting towards doing these exact things.
Do I think I will work in the museum field one day? Perhaps. It was definitely worth exploring.
For another student’s reflection on a different kind of MNHS internship, click here.
One of the great things about studying history at a university in the Twin Cities is that you have access to the Minnesota Historical Society (MNHS), one of the largest and best organizations of its type in the country. For example, MNHS runs a significant internship program for college students and recent graduates, with cohorts recruited for the fall, spring, and summer.
If you’re interested in pursuing an MNHS internship for the summer, applications are being accepted all throughout the month of March, with intern orientation in May and jobs starting on June 1st. As usual, the program encompasses a wide variety of fields, with over twenty positions available in everything from digitization to web design, oral history to textile conservation, youth camps to special events.
As we near the end of the first month of the semester, we’re starting to learn of summer internship opportunities in and around the Twin Cities. We’ll share some of those announcements here at AC 2nd…
…starting today with internships at the Minnesota Children’s Museum. MCM currently has sixteen internships available, several of which could potentially fit the skills and interests of our students: e.g., exhibit documentation, grant writing, digital media, museum experience, and volunteer services. If you’re interested in working for a museum or other nonprofit, this kind of internship can be a very helpful experience.
We’re honored to be hosting this year’s Minnesota Undergraduate History Symposium, coming to Bethel on Saturday, April 9, 2016. If you’re interested in learning more, check out the call for proposals that went out this morning to history departments around the state.
This is the third installment of the MUHS, with previous symposia having been hosted by our friends at University of Northwestern-St. Paul (2014) and Bethany Lutheran College (2015). A delegation from Martin Luther College joined the founding trio last year in Mankato, and this year we’re hoping to expand the circle further, to other church-related colleges and universities in Minnesota.
Another change this year is that we’ll be accepting proposals for presentations in three categories. As usual, we’ll invite students to report on research projects from capstone courses like our Senior Seminar, upper-division classes, and independent research projects. (Of course, because it’s an early April event, some of these projects will still be in progress, but that’s okay — it’s a chance to share preliminary findings and get some valuable feedback from faculty and peers at other schools.)
But this year we also welcome proposals from students who want to share digital history/digital humanities projects, or their reflections on internships, student-teaching placements, and other experiences connecting historical studies to the workplace.
After concurrent sessions throughout the morning, we’ll take a break for lunch (on your own, at Bethel or off-campus). The symposium will conclude with a faculty panel discussing how historians relate to various publics.
We’re happy to announce that Bethel will be hosting the third annual Minnesota Undergraduate History Symposium — Saturday, April 9, 2016!
(Click to read summaries of the 2014 and 2015 symposia, held at University of Northwestern-St. Paul and Bethany Lutheran College, respectively.)
A more formal call for papers will be issued in January, but read the preliminary announcement below. (Or click here to download the PDF.) Note that this year we’re changing things up a bit, inviting students to present digital humanities projects or to reflect on internships or other experiences that bridged work and study — in addition to the more typical presentations of research papers.
This week Prof. Gehrz hosts Past & Presence from sites along the former Western Front, in Belgium and northern France. (This past January he and Prof. Mulberry brought a camera and microphone along on their World War I travel course. Look for one more episode this spring to feature European locales.)
Also in episode nine…
We conclude our two-week conversation on Christian approaches to history, with Profs. Kooistra and Gehrz discussing “providential history,” moral judgment and reflection, and what’s transformative (even “conversional”) about the study of the past.
Meanwhile, Profs. Amy Poppinga and AnneMarie Kooistra shared some pointers on how to give oral presentations and work together on group projects, we interviewed middle school social studies teacher Annie Sjoholm ’09, and we talked to Political Science professor Fred Van Geest about Bethel’s pre-law program.
We’ll be off next week during Bethel’s Spring Break, then back on March 25th with a new episode of Past & Presence!
If you’re interested in incorporating an internship into your studies at Bethel, check out our new Internships page. It features some of our alumni explaining why they valued their internship experiences, links to internship programs at area historical societies and living history sites, and advice for students seeking positions in law, government, business, and other fields.
We’re coming up on the time of year when organizations hire their summer interns, so take some time before Spring Break to investigate your options. For example:
On April 1st the Minnesota Historical Society will start taking applications for its summer internship program, which includes seventeen positions in fields ranging from exhibit design and textile conservation to marketing and web production.
Current students: please consider attending the annual Minnesota Private Colleges Job and Internship Fair, taking place Wednesday, February 18th at the Minneapolis Convention Center. Whether you’re still in school next year but looking for an internship or about to graduate and looking towards employment after Bethel, this is a great place to start. More than 250 employers are taking part, from business, education, government, social services, and other sectors.
A recent MCUCSA survey conducted by St. Cloud State University indicated a positive trend in hiring for a majority of employers. Indicative of that attitude, more than 250 employers are registered for this year’s fair. In addition, surveyed employers list attributes that they most desire in college students seeking employment. This year, it’s notable that “Honesty & Integrity” surpassed “Verbal Communication Skills” on this list. Obviously, I believe that bodes well for the typical Bethel student. All the skills are consistent with a quality liberal arts education and also include: strong work ethic; motivation/initiative; ability to work on a team; and the ability to make decisions and solve problems.
To attend, you need to attend one of the prep sessions (all in HC 241) being put together by Dave’s office: