Where did you do your internship?
I did my internship at the Michigan Historical Museum in Lansing, MI. I had a choice of several internships at that site, including education, interpretation, and collections/archival work; I chose to take a research internship.
Why did you pick the internship you did?
A lot of it was for convenience--the Michigan Historical Museum is only about a 30-minute drive from my home west of Lansing. Since the internship was unpaid it made sense to stay close to home. I picked the research internship because I have done museum education and interpretation before, but hadn't had any training in working with or preserving artifacts, so didn't feel as though I had the experience to take a collections internship.
What were some of your favorite parts of your internship?
I enjoyed the autonomy--most internships, I think, aren't quite as independent as mine was. I had a supervisor that I could go to for help and with questions, and requirements I had to meet for the museum studies program itself, but my work was mostly self-guided and self-directed. I also had access to the excellent resource that is the Library of Michigan, since the Michigan Historical Museum shares a building with the library.
What kind of jobs/activities did you participate in?
I did a lot of research in the library, and also had access to information my supervisor had collected as part of an earlier project. I also traveled to the collections center to see how the State of Michigan stores, catalogs, and files information on artifacts in its possession.
Would you recommend this internship to other students?
Absolutely. One advantage of applying for an internship with the State of Michigan's museum system is that the Michigan Historical Museum is not the only site a student can intern at. There are ten other sites in the state's museum system. And if a student chooses to intern at the Michigan Historical Museum, they'll be working in the heart of downtown Lansing, just a few blocks from the Capitol Building and legislative offices. There are always interesting things going on in downtown Lansing, especially in the summer.
Is there any other guidance you would offer students looking for internships?
Look for internships earlier than you think you'll need to, especially if you hope to get a summer internship. I applied for my internship three months before I wanted to start it and heard back almost immediately--waiting until the last month of the semester to apply might mean a longer wait for people at a museum to see your application, because they will probably have other applications to sort through first. Similarly, if you want a paid internship, or one that will provide you with housing on or near the site, you must look early. I worked for the Mackinac State Historic Parks one summer, and had friends who interned for them at the same time--these people were provided housing as part of their internship contract, and everyone who had successfully snagged one of these internships had applied for it in October or November of the previous year. Another thing to keep in mind is what tasks you'd like to do on your internship. If you want to focus on one specialized type of work, like education or artifact preservation, you may want to apply to a larger museum or museum system. If you want to do a little bit of everything, think about contacting a smaller museum or a local historical society, which may be partially or completely staffed by a group of volunteers who don't have specific jobs within the organization.