Students spend the summer interning across country before school year

By Megan Loock
Elm Staff Writer

Internships provide students with firsthand career experience, but with fluctuating COVID-19 restrictions, it was uncertain if students would receive that full experience.   

For senior Meagan Jenkins, her internship was strictly remote. Jenkins spent her time curating and archiving from the comfort of her home in New Jersey as a member of the curatorial team at Gilder Lehrman Institute of American History (GLI) through Washington College’s Explore America Program hosted by the Starr Center for the Study of the American Experience. 

According to the GLI’s website, “The Institute is the leading nonprofit organization dedicated to K–12 history education while also serving the general public. Its mission is to promote the knowledge and understanding of American history through educational programs and resources.” 

As a history major, Jenkins was looking for an internship that would meet her passion for researching, curating, and creating exhibitions.

“Surprisingly, this internship did not stand out to me [at first],” she said. “I put a different location as my first choice… I’m honestly glad that I put it so low on my list, because who knows if I would have gotten picked for it.” 

During her internship, Jenkins worked on a program titled “Inside the Vault” where every other week the curatorial team would feature one or more documents inside the GLI archive and discuss the documents in question within the time period it was created with a guest educator and/or a “Hamilton” cast member. 

Bryson Bruce — who doubled as le Marquis de Lafayette and Thomas Jefferson in both touring companies — and Elijah Malcomb — who doubled as John Laurens and Philip Hamilton in the second touring company — were panelists for the Our March on Washington program and Fight for the Rights of Black Lives in the Founding Era program.

“I always joined the sessions with the panelists since I did the research and was required to work the backend, so I got to be on call with all of them,” Jenkins said. 

She did the background research for the time period and event surrounding the featured documents as a guide for the collections manager and the guest panelists. 

Jenkins also created PowerPoint slides for the program, social media content, book lists for the bookshop, a resource page for the website, and informational sheets for the featured documents for public use. 

“I never knew how much fun it could be creating content for people to see, and the pride I felt knowing my work was on display for so many people is something that I never want to stop feeling,” Jenkins said. 

In contrast, senior Claire Spears enjoyed an in-person internship at Horn Point Laboratories in Cambridge, Md, working on an oyster restoration project.  

The project was hosted through the University of Maryland campuses and funded through a grant provided by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, or NOAA. 

“The thing about oyster restoration specifically is that it directly tied into [the restoration and management of marine ecosystems due to climate change, the field Spears wants to enter],” Spears said. “Oysters are what clean our waterways after all these years… so when I saw a restoration project that had to do with restoring our rivers…I was interested in doing that.” 

Spears was responsible for breeding, raising, and moving out 500 million oysters by the end of the summer.  

“I learned that these projects are more complicated and way bigger than you think and things can always go wrong,” she said.  

Spears said that right before she left her internship, they had a crash of algae and the survival rates were low because the oysters were not getting enough to eat. 

When it comes to students seeking future internships, both Spears and Jenkins recommend being open to any opportunity that has to do with your interests. Students who are interested in pursuing an internship during the school year should make a visit to the Career Center, which hosts resources and staff willing to help.

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