By Brooke Schultz
Elm Staff Writer
Students and alumni took the podium in The Egg to talk about their firsthand experiences interning over the summer at places like the Smithsonian Institution, Library of Congress, and National Archives.
Program Manager of the C.V. Starr Center for the Study of the American Experience Michael Buckley said, “So many amazing things happen on these internships. I think it’s important to have an opportunity to share that with the other students. Hopefully they’ll be inspired and they’ll want to get involved in these amazing first-rate internships.”
Comegy Bight is a program that matches Washington College students with historical and cultural institutions and provides a stipend for the students’ work. The program is offered annually to up to 10 students through the C.V. Starr Center. On Tuesday, Sept. 8, seven students and alumni gathered to discuss their internship opportunities.
The alumni and students who took the stage were Amanda Beck, Robbie Teel, Erin Famularo, Jackie Petito, and Courtney Wallo, all members of the Class of 2015, junior Holly Chisholm, and senior Anna Black. They were introduced by Director of the C.V. Starr Center Adam Goodheart.
The interns each discussed where they had worked, what tasks they had handled, and what the experience meant to them.
Beck, an art history major and hispanic studies minor, worked at the Smithsonian American Art Museum in D.C. Beck worked with Senior Curator Eleanor Harvey as a research assistant, delving into the life of Alexander von Humbolt to build an exhibit around him. “What was wonderful about this is that I was able to utilize every skill that WC implemented. I was able to do original work, in-depth research , and work creatively at the same time,” Beck said.
Chisholm, a history and business management double major, handled the social media accounts for the National Archives and Record Administration in D.C. Chisholm live-tweeted events on Twitter, wrote lengthier summaries for Facebook, and uploaded content to several different blogs, connecting the on-goings of her work environment to the public. Chisholm also participated in the Primarily Teachers Workshop, which focuses on bringing primary sources to the classroom.
“My experience was an amazing adventure. I think I have a better appreciation for primary sources, now. Also for social media I learned a lot about writing for different audiences. I’ve definitely grown more comfortable with how I write and what I write. Of course, spending an entire summer in Washington, D.C. was pretty great,” Chisholm said.
Teel couldn’t physically join the presentations but recorded a video and sent in a Power Point discussing his role at the American Philosophical Society in Philadelphia. This history major and recent graduate spent his summer as a digital archivist preserving materials for later use and making them more accessible for researchers.
“I learned a bunch of new skills. I learned computer coding for making websites, which I thought was a very valuable skill in this digital age. I learned some basic conservation skills, which I think is a skill you just don’t get every day,” he said.
Black is a hispanic studies major who worked at the Publishing Office at the Library of Congress in D.C. Black is proficient in several languages, and her supervisor, Peggy Wagner, made use of her skills. Wagner is currently working on an illustrated history of World War I, and Black was tasked with studying years 1916-1918 about US involvement in Russia and Mexico.
Black said, “For a long time, I thought that a Hispanic Studies Major would only land me a job teaching or in translation. This internship actually kind of shed a light on my situation and showed me that I can really apply the skills that I have to a number of different professions.”
Famularo, a sociology major, worked at the National Center for Civil and Human Rights in Atlanta, Ga. She was a marketing and communications intern and handled various social media accounts and graphic design. When editing the new LGBT+ rotating exhibit, she was able to flaunt her sociology degree. “I not only was editing it for grammar and spelling, I was editing for creating a voice that was really inclusive,” she said.
Lastly, Petito, an anthropology and art history major, and Walls, an art and art history major, talked about their internships with the National Portrait Gallery in D.C. The pair did research, were able to utilize the library, did gallery checks, and went on field trips to other exhibitions.
“This internship was just a really awesome experience. This was my first internship in a museum, and I really enjoyed it, and I think I might want to go on to do museum or curatorial studies,” Walls said.
The Comegy Bight opportunities are open to students of any year, and students can partake twice and continue to build on their skills.
Goodheart said, “I’d say that our program is really about breaking down the walls between campus and the world at large. Part of that is our students taking their knowledge and expertise and passion from WC and bringing to summer work, and part of it is them taking their knowledge and expertise and passion that they gained in their summer work experiences and bringing it back to campus.”
The C.V. Starr Center is excited to work with students interested in applying and can provide guidance, coaching, and discuss in detail the opportunities available to them. You can find out more about the Comegy Bight Program on the Starr Center’s website, and can attend the next presentation on Sept. 17.