My Internship with… The Minnesota Historical Society

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.

WW1 America exhibit logo

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!

Lauren in Trafalgar Square
Lauren (2nd from r.) in Trafalgar Square, the starting point of the 2015 WWI trip

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?

MNHS logoI 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.


Summer 2017 Internships at the Minnesota Historical Society

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.

Internships Available at the Minnesota Children’s Museum

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…

Logo of MN Children's Museum…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.

Learn more by visiting MCM’s employment page.

Call for Proposals: 2016 Minnesota Undergraduate History Symposium

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.

2015 MN Undergraduate History Symposium group picture
A few of the participants at the 2015 MN Undergraduate History Symposium at Bethany Lutheran College in Mankato, MN
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.

If you’re a student interested in taking part, applications are due online by March 9th. Note that you can attend even if you’re not presenting; just email Prof. Gehrz by 3/9.

Save the Date: The 2016 Minnesota Undergraduate History Symposium

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.

Please feel free to email Prof. Chris Gehrz with any questions; otherwise, we’ll hope to see you next April!

Wednesday’s Webisode: Christian History, Part II

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.
  • Gretchen Luhmann ’14 remembers her time as an intern at Eidem Homestead, a living history site in Brooklyn Park, MN
  • Fletcher Warren ’15 and Bethel librarian Kent Gerber explain how they go about adding to Bethel’s Digital Library
  • And a preview of Diana Magnuson’s class on American Beginnings

Wednesday’s Webisode: The Minnesota History Center

To this point we’ve been naming each installment of Past & Presence after the topics of our weekly faculty conversations, but this week the star of the show is the place we visit:

Yes, we had the great privilege of getting a behind-the-scenes tour of the Minnesota History Center in St. Paul. Thanks to our host Matt Musel (who talked with us about the mission of the MN Historical Society and his role there as a majors gifts officer), we got to visit a textile conservation lab, talk with the coordinator of the MHS internship program, and learn about exhibit design from one of the masterminds of the popular Minnesota’s Greatest Generation exhibit.

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!

Interested in Internships?

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.

Historic Fort Snelling
Two of the MHS internships involve summer children’s programming at Historic Fort Snelling – Creative Commons (Ronald Wolfgram)

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.
  • The Scott County Historical Society has five summer positions available (exhibits, collections, public programs, development) starting in May.
  • Or if you’re willing to move to Washington, DC for the summer, the Smithsonian has several positions with March and April deadlines.

If you’d like to receive academic credit for your internship — increasingly encouraged by organizations like MHS, talk to department chair Chris Gehrz.

The 2015 Minnesota Private Colleges Job and Internship Fair

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.

In announcing the job fair to faculty, Dave Broza, Bethel’s director of Career Development and Calling emphasized that

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:

  • Thursday, Feb. 5, 4pm
  • Tuesday, Feb. 10, 10:15am
  • Wednesday, Feb. 11, 4pm
  • Thursday, Feb. 12, 10:15am
  • Thursday, Feb. 12, 4pm

Then register ($10) with the Career Development office before February 13th.

My Internship at… Eidem Homestead

It’s been far too long since we interviewed a Bethel History student or recent alum who has completed an internship! So let’s hear from Gretchen Luhmann ’14, who spent part of her last semester at Bethel working at Eidem Homestead, a living history site in Brooklyn Park, Minnesota.

First things first: why did you pick a History major? Did you come to Bethel knowing you wanted to pursue that course of study?

Coming to Bethel I knew History would be my major. Whether or not I would pair it with another major or minor, I knew History would be my focus because it had been a favorite topic of mine since childhood. I wasn’t really sure what I would end up doing with it, but the thought of working in a museum where I could tell stories of the past and actually “do” history thrilled me.

How did you become a spring intern with Eidem Homestead? Were you looking to work there in particular?

I was looking for internships with a museum or archive to establish connections in the area and to learn how to professionally care for objects and documents, but also to figure out which area of museum or archival work I was most interested in. I had experience working in the Archives of the Baptist General Conference and Bethel University, but thought looking into other areas was wise before continuing on with graduate school for a master’s in Library and Information Science.

Eidem Homestead is a living history museum that Dr. Gehrz mentioned to me early in the fall of 2013, but found again when researching smaller museums and libraries in the area where I was hoping to find internship opportunities.

For those who haven’t been there before, describe Eidem Homestead.

Eidem Homestead is a living history museum in Brooklyn Park. John and Lectty Eidem moved onto that farm in 1894 where they planted potatoes and raised sheep, like most farmers in the area. For visitors, you experience what life in rural Minnesota would have been like between 1890 and 1910. You can tour the house and barn, check out the farm animals in the spring and summer, experience the daily work that each member of the family contributed to the farm, and take part in the many events throughout the year geared to all ages.

What kind of work did you have the chance to do as a museum intern?

At the beginning of my internship in the spring of 2014, when the farm was quiet, most of my time was spent researching in order to write descriptions for future display signs around the farm. I researched the 1890-1910 period, the Brooklyn Park area, rural life, immigration, and also various objects around the house and barn to get an understanding of their importance and function. The interpretive signs enable visitors to read and learn about basic aspects of life on the farm at that period, but also set the stage for what happened throughout the United States and what concerns people had at that period. The closer it got to the spring and summer events, the more my work transitioned to programming. I worked on bringing together ideas and preparing the farm for the opening events.

What was most exciting or enjoyable about it? What was challenging?

Eidem Homestead
Eidem Homestead – City of Brooklyn Park

I enjoyed working at Eidem, which has a smaller staff, because that meant that I would have a number of experiences rather than working in one specific department. With that, I was able to research, but also get the house ready for visitors by pulling out knick knacks and rearranging furniture, and went through boxes and trunks of various things creating an inventory. While I loved the various jobs I was thrown into, coming up with ideas and planning accordingly for events was difficult. I found myself wishing that I had experienced an event as a visitor myself prior to the internship to get a feel of the crowd and how the events logistically worked. With that said, Eve Burlingame, the Eidem Farm Coordinator, was a great sounding board for my suggestions and helped make them a reality.

Do you see yourself doing similar work as a career? Has the internship experience influenced your thinking about work and education in the coming years?

Parts of the internship I am working towards for a career. I loved the research aspect and going through old documents and boxes. Yet at the same time, I do not necessarily see myself at a living history museum. The internship did impress upon me how much I love research and working on the more academic side of history. As of now, I am planning on going back to school to get a master’s in Library and Information Science to become an archivist.

What advice would you have for our majors who are interested in seeking internship experiences?

Definitely do it! Even if you think it may not be an area you are completely interested in, it helps with networking and honing in on what it is that does interest you. For me, I needed that experience to figure out that I enjoyed the behind the scenes research process more than being in front teaching others about that history. Also, don’t only look into museums that already have established internships. I found multiple smaller museums and county historical societies that were willing to work with me, so make sure to check out all your prospects – it never hurts to ask!

If, like Gretchen, you’re interested in receiving HIS credit for your internship, get in touch with department chair Chris Gehrz. The for-credit option simply requires that you work a certain number of hours (varies by number of credits), that you arrange a supervisor on site and back at Bethel, and that you complete some reading and writing to help you reflect on your experience.

<<Read the previous entry in the My Internship series