Undergraduate Internship Experiences

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Kelli Landing, History Major, Class of 2009

“When looking for a summer internship, I decided I wanted to do something close to my own hometown of Jamestown, North Carolina. Given my interest in public history and especially in exploring ways of getting communities more involved in their own history, Körner’s Folly, a historic house museum located in Kernersville, North Carolina, seemed like a perfect fit. Soon after submitting a letter of interest and résumé I was contacted by the Executive Director, Bruce Frankel. Impressed by my background in history and knowledge of the surrounding area, he offered me an internship for the summer.

Körner’s Folly is a small historic site administered by a board, executive director, and two part-time docents. Because of its small size and staff, the interns at the Folly are given a good deal of responsibility. Among other things, I helped plan a car show, a one-man performance based on Abraham Lincoln’s writings, a wine tasting, and an interactive murder mystery night. I also assisted with several “evidence reveals” for paranormal investigations at the house, which, legend has it, is haunted. Most importantly, as a docent it was my job to make the history of the house come alive for visitors. I particularly enjoyed leading tours for senior citizens, who shared with me their own pasts as I told them about the history of the home. I learned as much as they did!

Whether at a small historic site like Körner’s Folly or a larger historical museum, archive, or library, I highly recommend an internship experience. In my case, it proved a valuable supplement to my academic study of history at Carolina and gave me an opportunity to try out a career in a history-related field. Moreover, the contacts I made while an intern will prove invaluable for my future development as a professional historian. But most of all, my experience at Körner’s Folly helped me to realize that my passion is making history come alive for the public.”

Will Schulz, History Major, Class of 2010

“I didn’t plan on spending my summer with a disgraced ex-president. But I did, and I enjoyed every day of the experience. This summer I interned at the Richard Nixon Presidential Library and Museum in Yorba Linda, California. Not once did I ever have to sharpen pencils, fetch coffee, or lick envelopes. Instead, I helped put together the Museum’s multimedia, interactive Watergate exhibit, which features oral interviews with John Dean, G. Gordon Liddy, and dozens of other figures from the Nixon Era. When I was not working on Watergate, I wrote panels for an exhibit commemorating the Apollo moon landing and assembled “finding aids” that would help future researchers pick their way through the thousands and thousands of pages of Nixon’s presidential papers.

The real pleasure, though, came from my co-workers. It was a chance to work with people who love history as much as I do. Library Director Tim Naftali is a brilliant historian and a great boss, and the archivists, curators, and technicians at the Library are all wonderful. My fellow interns came from all over the country: USC to Yale, Stanford to Tulsa. One of the highlights of the Nixon experience was the weekly seminar, during which we would get together to discuss the highlights and lowlights of the Nixon administration. It wasn’t all about Tricky Dick, though. We took day trips to the San Bernardino Mountains, Los Angeles, and San Francisco. I never thought I’d say this, but: Thank you, President Nixon, for the wonderful summer!”

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