Majors in the Field

Below are some of our History majors descirbing their internship experiences, in their own words. If you are interested in the work they have done, feel free to contact them!

Emily Wells is a junior majoring in History and minoring in French. She is pictured here working on one of the dolls in the Colonial Williamsburg’s Toy Collection.

Emily Wells ’15—Curatorial Intern at Colonial Williamsburg

The Museum:
The Colonial Williamsburg Foundation operates a living-history museum in the restored town of Williamsburg. In this setting, costumed interpreters bring 18th-century Williamsburg to life and explore the events and ideas surrounding the American Revolution. The Foundation also operates two museums, the DeWitt Wallace Decorative Arts Museum and the Abby Aldrich Rockefeller Folk Art Museum. These museums house a variety of objects that were used in America during the 18th and 19th centuries.

Her work as an intern:
I was a Curatorial Intern in the museum's Curatorial Department. I worked with a variety of 19th and 20th-century toys; focusing primarily on tin toys, dolls, and games. My primary responsibility was to examine individual toys and use my observations to write descriptions and brief condition reports. I then added this information to the museum's electronic catalog. I also researched selected toys and toy companies, writing brief reports on my findings that I added to the object files along with other print resources I had found. I also wrote French to English translations for a group of 19th-century card games. I used my translations to investigate the history of these games and discover how they had originally been played. I had the opportunity to attend regular meetings alongside other curatorial and museum staff. I helped out on smaller projects that gave me the opportunity to work with the other curators as well; for instance photographing a doll with the Curator of Textiles and Historic Interiors and travelling to Monticello to look at a cabinet with the Curator of Furniture. I also gained experience working with exhibits in the museum by attending volunteer trainings and assisting with several exhibit installations.

Her History major in action:
I was able to use my background in early American history to understand the historical context of the objects that I was working with. I was also able to better appreciate the history being interpreted in the museum and historic town. Although I had little knowledge of 19th century toys going into the internship, I was able to use the research skills that I had developed as a History major to learn more about the objects I was working with and delve deeper into their historical context.

What Emily gained:
During this internship, I honed my ability to conduct object-based research. The experience made me think about museums in a new way and introduced me to the idea of looking at history through the lens of material culture. I learned a lot about the day-to-day operations of a museum. I also learned more about the opportunities available in this field.

Emily Wells is a junior majoring in History and minoring in French. She is pictured here working on one of the dolls in the Colonial Williamsburg’s Toy Collection.

Naomi Rodri is a junior double majoring in History and Theater. Pictured here are her and the production team cleaning up a pile of roast beef, peas, and shattered plates--a nightly by-product of the play, “Phoebe in Winter.”

Naomi Rodri ’15—Production Assistant intern at Clubbed Thumb

The organization:
Clubbed Thumb commissions, develops, and produces funny, strange, and provocative new plays by living American writers. Since its founding in 1996, the company has earned five OBIES and presented plays in every form of development, including over 80 full productions.
The plays vary in style and content, but are always intermission-less, 90 minutes or under, and produced in New York City. They feature substantial and challenging roles for both men and women, are questioning, formally inventive, theatrical, and, somewhere in the text, they contain a sense of humor.

Her work as an intern:
During my Production Assistant internship I assisted with set construction, front-of-house duties, technical load-in's, strikes and opening night parties for all three shows of Clubbed Thumb’s annual Summerworks Festival. Additionally, I worked closely with the production team of the second show in the series, "Phoebe in Winter," and contributed to rehearsals and performances.

Her History major in action:
Even though my internship did not directly relate to history/historical research, I found that I used many of the skills I have cultivated as a History major during my time with Clubbed Thumb. In many ways, plays are similar to primary sources. A large part of the theatrical creative process is attempting to tease meaning out the written words of a play; actors and directors often approach a play the way a historian approaches a written document. Theatrical professionals constantly question what a play means, how it can be understood in the context it was written, who it was written for, what it says about both the author and the world at large. During the rehearsal process for "Phoebe in Winter" I drew upon the critical and analytic skills fostered by my background in History to understand the play.

Naomi Rodri is a junior double majoring in History and Theater. Pictured here are her and the production team cleaning up a pile of roast beef, peas, and shattered plates--a nightly by-product of the play, “Phoebe in Winter.”


AnneElizabeth Konkel ’14—Research Assistant at The Peacekeeping and Stability Operations Institute at the U.S. Army War College

The Organization:
PKSOI is the U.S. Army's 'think tank' to study peace operations or (in military terms) stage 4 combat. PKSOI does publications, research and analysis for the U.S. Army as well as some work for U.N. Peacekeeping Operations. However, there are always a range of projects at PKSOI from USAID work, State Department work to regional conflict studies.
PKSOI also is in frequent contact with many Washington D.C. organizations, so this internship would definitely be a great first step if you are looking to eventually intern or work at one of the competitive Washington think tanks.

Her work as an intern:
I was a research assistant to Dr. Jennifer Bryson. I assisted her in conducting research for her upcoming book 'Muslims Countering Extremism', which examines how Muslims are combating extremism and extremist stereotypes through creative media. Additionally, I was the teaching assistant to her graduate seminar as well as attended several conferences on the broader topic of religious freedom.

Her History major in action:
I used my modern South Asia history concentration to culturally analyze the South Asian media sources that Dr. Bryson was using for her book. She found this to be very helpful since her cultural knowledge was mainly the Middle East and North Africa. I would also say I used the reading and writing skills from my major; I knew how to critically read sources from primary and secondary historical research and my writing skills were used since I would copy-edit most of her articles that were in route to academic publications.

What AnneElizabeth learned:

I learned a ton in this internship. Firstly, I learned the process of maintaining a giant research project such as researching/writing/publishing a book. I also learned how to present ideas in the face of opposition. It was sometimes very intimidating to present Dr. Bryson's project to 45-year-old military graduate students/military staff, since many times their first question would be "Why creative media? You said you're looking at movies to countering terrorism?"
However, the most valuable knowledge I gained through the internship was simply listening to operations plans, stories and anecdotes from staff members' time in Yemen, Afghanistan or Iraq. It's one thing to read about accounts of the Taliban in a MHC classroom, it's another to talk face to face with the man who was a Taliban negotiator in Afghanistan. Those personal anecdotes are invaluable.

 Iris Parker Pavitt is a History major with a Nexus minor in Non-Profit Organizations. She is pictured here with a pie she baked for the Museum as part of a summer fundraiser.


Iris Parker Pavitt ’15—Programs and Research intern at The Orcas Island Historical Society and Museum

The Museum:
The mission of the Orcas Historical Society and Museum is to preserve and share the rich historical heritage of Orcas Island. Through exhibits in the museum building comprised of homsteader cabins to education outreach in schools and more, OIHSM is dedicated to celebrating the history of this unique location and its inhabitants.

Her work as an intern:
My internship was largely self-directed and was determined based on the needs of the museum. I researched and wrote blog posts for the website, redesigned the visitor's brochure, filed the newspaper collection, re-labeled the family/ancestry folders, and worked as a docent at the front desk.

Her History major in action:
I used my academic background in US history, my local knowledge from growing up on Orcas Island, my research skills for finding and writing about obscure subjects, eye for graphic design, and enthusiasm for sharing newfound historical knowledge with visitors and friends.

Her advice to students:

Don’t forget about your local museum down the street! Larger, more well-funded institutions may be alluring, but think about the benefits of helping out a local non-profit:
1. A chance to experience more diversity in your work. At OIHSM, I got to do a lot of different jobs because there were only a few staff members, and learned how to do a lot more tasks. I really enjoyed this atmosphere instead of being confined to one department.
2. The opportunity to design self-directed projects. My work was based on my interests and the needs of the museum. While there was some routine work that needed to be done, I as allowed to choose exciting projects that I thought would benefit the museum.
3. Seeing the difference I made. At a smaller institution, I felt like my presence had a more visible impact. I was able to make personal connections with staff and volunteers, and my work was valued by the museum.

 Iris Parker Pavitt is a History major with a Nexus minor in Non-Profit Organizations. She is pictured here with a pie she baked for the Museum as part of a summer fundraiser.

Hannah Barg ’14—Community Archive Project at the Marine Biological Laboratory

The organization:

The purpose of the community Archives Project was to compile an archive composed of oral histories, photographs, letters and other objects to capture the history of a special community. 

Her work as an intern:
I was a historian in the project. My main focus was to interview female scientists and edit those interviews, and write profiles of current or past scientists in order to create a digital exhibit about women in science. I also entered metadata, scanned papers, and did many other tasks.

Her History minor in action:
I used my research skills to research the women for the exhibit, and my history writing skills to write historical profiles of each woman. I also used my interview skills that I gained through my anthropology background.

Pictured here is Brooke Huynh ’15 and instructors for the Horseback Riding Program during High Rocks for Girls.

Brooke Huynh ’15—Education Intern at High Rocks for Girls

The organization:
High Rocks is an alternative education program in Rural Appalachia where I did workshops to inspire, educate, and empower young women who lived in the surrounding area. We did programs that were geared towards empowerment, feminism, and the liberal arts--creating classes that were about media, gender and sexuality, nature, and exploratory learning.

Her work as an intern:
I was the Education Intern at High Rocks with 8 other interns. I organized workshops, was a camp counselor at times, and I taught horseback riding lessons and gave feedback to students to help students enhance their writing.

Her History major in action:
I used my ability to communicate directly with others, I used my skills in research to come up with curriculum guidelines, I used my ability to problem solve, and synthesize data. In this internship, there was an education component where I had to practically apply my classroom experience, with communicating in-depth analysis of concrete details and facts in an organized way, and then I had to use my writing skills to create curriculum strategies for my workshops. I had to use my oral, written, and communication skills learned in the classroom to teach and mentor others. I had to know what it means to act professionally and cultivate a productive relationship with the students that I learned specifically in the seminar setting. 

Brooke Huynh '15 is a double major in History and Gender Studies. Pictured here is Brooke and instructors for the Horseback Riding Program during High Rocks for Girls.

Grace Foster, ’14—Research Intern for the Community Archive Project at the Marine Biological Laboratory

Her role as an intern: I was a researcher and investigator for the MBL Library [and] I learned how to archive material and how to lead and edit oral histories. I worked with one other MHC student and many of the historical women we researched had connections to Mount Holyoke.
Grace’s take:
It was awesome and something I never thought I would do! Think outside the box, you may have broader interests than you're even aware of.

Grace Foster is a senior earning her degree in History with a minor in Education with a teacher licensure.

Lily Corman-Penzel ’15—Access Intern at the Peabody Essex Museum

The Museum:
The Peabody Essex Museum is one of the oldest continually operating museums in the United States. Originally founded by wealthy merchants in 1799 as the East India Marine Society, the museum was a place to display the curiosities they brought back from their trips around the globe. This means that the museum's permanent collection contains a tremendous variety of objects from the Northwest coast of America, Asia, Africa, Oceania, India and elsewhere.

The mission of the museum is to:
"Celebrate outstanding artistic and cultural creativity by collecting, stewarding, and interpreting objects of art and culture in ways that increase knowledge, enrich the spirit, engage the mind, and stimulate the senses. Through its exhibitions, programs, publications, media, and related activities, PEM strives to create experiences that transform people's lives by broadening their perspectives, attitudes, and knowledge of themselves and the wider world."

Lily’s work as the Access Intern:
I was the Access Intern loosely connected to the Education Department at PEM. My job at PEM revolved around figuring what the museum needed to do to improve its accessibility and how it could do this.
To do this I spent a lot of time:
- Walking though exhibits
- Talking with PEM staff and visitors
- Meeting with the accessibility departments at other museums in the Boston area
- Researching accessible programming in museums around the world
- [Giving myself] a crash course in accessibility law
- Most importantly compiling a detailed list of recommendations to leave with PEM at the end of the summer.

Her History Major in Action:

One of the things you learn how to do as a history major is research. You learn how to effectively search databases to find elusive information. You also learn how to take the information you find and compile it into succinct and clear arguments. All of this was very helpful throughout my whole summer at PEM. 

Lily Corman-Penzel is a History major with a Nexus minor in Law and Public Policy.