Intern Experiences

Rider Interns Share Their Stories....

“It’s awesome working and walking where Thomas Edison worked and walked.”
~ Eric
Site:  Thomas Edison National Historical Park, National Park Service (West Orange, NJ)
Major:  History

My time at Thomas Edison National Historical Park was divided between the Curatorial and Interpretation divisions.  I got up close and personal and with the artifacts while maintaining and archiving them.  And I helped the public by answering questions and explaining displays.  I enjoyed every bit of my time there.  I even stayed beyond the required internship hours.  I created an exhibit on Edicraft (Edison’s household products) and a talk program for visitors.  I am planning to go back there next summer.  I am now considering being a Park Ranger as a career.


“I learned that History is not just about the past, but how the past continues to affect us today.”
~ Karryne
Site:  Lipper Internship at the Museum of Jewish Heritage--A Living Memorial to the Holocaust (NYC)
Major:  History / Secondary Education

During my internship, I met with three women who survived the Holocaust, and learned about countless others.  Their stories of tragedy, loss, dedication, and gratitude for others that helped them were inspirational.  I always thought I could study history objectively, without getting too emotionally invested.  This internship proved me wrong: the Holocaust is not just a moment in history to be studied, but a time that should be remembered forever.  It has become my duty to take their stories and tell them to others, when they no longer can themselves.


“History is not something to be passively read, rather something that is discovered and experienced.”
~ Jacqueline
Site: 1761 Brearley House, Lawrence Historical Society
Major: History / Secondary Education

I helped develop an organized docent handbook for the Brearley House, research and draft panels for a permanent exhibit, and analyze how the Lawrence Historical Society could strengthen their relationships with local schools. Despite how brief my experience was, I learned a great deal about history as a profession, as compared to a discipline in an academic setting. My experience of history has, up until this point, been largely based in readings assigned on a syllabus, writing essays explaining the significance of a historical figure, or exploring what other authors have to tell me. In my time with the many members of the Society I was privileged to meet, historical research transcended quick reads or internet searches, and became something entirely more involved, more hands one, more challenging. I did not have a class objective to guide my work, but rather had to answer my own historical questions in order to complete the tasks I was given.


“Working at the museum was truly and inspirational and humbling experience.”
~ Jon
Site: National Museum of the Marine Corps
Major: History / Secondary Education

In the summer of 2014, I interned at the National Museum of the Marine Corps in Triangle, Virginia in the Visitor's Services Department.  I was taught the history of the Marine Corps and also worked to create touch tours for visitors with vision impairments or who are blind by using tangible objects to convey aspects of Marine Corps history.  I also worked with the Education Department to assist in educating younger visitors in Marine Corps history.  Working at the museum was truly and inspirational and humbling experience which was the perfect marriage of my passions for military history, education, and working with the public.


“I continued to volunteer beyond the required hours sometimes working as a substitute librarian.”
~ Jesse
Site: Monmouth County Historical Association
Major: History / Secondary Education

My project involved transcribing Eliza Chadwick Robert’s autobiography (1814). Eliza’s handwriting, older forms of language and spelling, as well as water damage proved to be a challenge.  I corrected a past transcription done in the 1920s by a volunteer including fixing mistakes, adding omissions, and changing the spelling and spacing to match the original. I used a 20/20 viewer and picture tools to enhance scanned page images for easier transcription. Highlights include her father’s stories of the American Revolution, her accounts of sugar production and slavery in the Caribbean, descriptions of various Yellow fever epidemics, and her spiritual experiences.


“Interning at the Morris County Historical Society allowed me to network and make connections in my field.”
~ Erich
Site: Morris County Historical Society at Acorn Hall
Major: History / Secondary Education

During my internship with the Morris County Historical Society, I was taught a wealth of knowledge in the history field, including how to preserve and archive artifacts properly. I worked on everything from setting up exhibits to entering heirlooms into the museum’s archive system. I was also given the liberty to revise the exhibit in the master bedroom to better display Victorian interior design with the help of a fellow volunteer. While interning, I became good friends with the staff and am planning to return to the many events in the future.


“I now work as a part-time interpreter at the Old Barracks Museum and I couldn't be any happier.” 
~ Jeana
Site: Old Barracks Museum
Major: History / Secondary Education

I interned at the Old Barracks during spring semester and the beginning of summer. After I completed my internship hours, I volunteered for a couple of weeks and then the Director of the Old Barracks Museum offered me a job as a part time interpreter.


“There is a wealth of knowledge and an excellent staff who are willing to share information and make history come alive.”
~ Griff
Site: National Guard Militia Museum of New Jersey - Lawrenceville
Major: History

I completed two different projects. First, I created an exhibit with the help of museum staff on Operation Iraqi Freedom centering on the New Jersey National Guard's contribution. A wall display provided a brief history of the operation, a list of the New Jersey National Guard Units which served, and several significant items. A floor display case focused on soldiers’ experience and included objects donated to the museum. It was amazing to handle items used by NJ troops. Working on the exhibit greatly expanded my understanding of this recent event in United States history. Second, I researched WWII German weapons exhibited but not interpreted. I compiled the descriptions and photographs into a reference book to accompany the display. Through my research I also identified relevant accessories, which were added to the display case. Interning at the National Guard Militia Museum was an incredible learning experience.


“My favorite part of the internship was teaching kids about history.”
~ Sam
Site: New Haven Museum
Major: History

I looked for an internship near my home in Connecticut that I could do during the summer. I applied at the New Haven Museum and was lucky to be chosen as one of eight interns in the Education Department. Though I am not an education major, I gained valuable experience. I worked mostly on designing field trips and lesson plans for students on topics such as trade to the West Indies, the cotton gin, and the Civil War. I had the opportunity to accompany the head of the Education Department to local middle schools to pitch field trips to Social Studies teachers. It was rewarding to share our hard work and promote the Museum’s resources. I recommend the New Haven Museum to anyone from or traveling to the area!


“Readington Museums provided a great hands-on way to learn more about a subject that I love.”
~ Brittany
Site: Readington Museums
Major: History / Secondary Education

Read about Brittany’s intern experience in the Readington Museums’ Partners in History Newsletter, Summer 2011, Vol 2, Issue 3: “Meet Brittany Gajewski-Summer Intern” on p. 2 and “New Exhibit” on p. 3. 


“The experience was more than simply, 'working at a library'.”
~ Steve
Site: David Library of the American Revolution
Major: History

As a History major and Political Science minor, the David Library allowed me to explore my interest in early American politics and culture. I worked on several projects including compiling a database of court martial records for the British Army using Excel. I aided the librarian to complete long-distance research requests as well as organizing indexes of microfilms. In addition to assisting the staff with presentations to the public, I had the chance to meet many patrons and visitors to the David Library. I also enjoyed working with other knowledgeable interns from different colleges. One of the highlights of my internship was the opportunity to tag along on the David Library’s Ten Crucial Days Staff Ride, designed and led by Scholar in Residence, William Tatum. The tour focused on the Revolutionary War from Washington’s crossing of the Delaware River through the Battles of Trenton and Princeton and included several scenic stops.


“The amount of responsibility that I was given as an intern greatly surpassed my expectations.”
~ Heather
Site: Morris County Historical Society
Major: History / Elementary Education

I enjoyed my internship at the Morris County Historical Society so much I did it twice! Since the historical society has four full-time employees, they rely heavily on volunteers including interns like me. As a result, I gained experience doing a number of different tasks including helping to research and design exhibits, conducting tours of the 1853 house, transcribing original documents such as a 1920 diary, and working on the society’s newsletter. Drawing on my teacher training, I developed educational activity packets for children to enhance their experience and attract more families and school groups to the site.  I also worked with the director of exhibits at the Morris County Library. I continue to volunteer whenever I have the chance.


“I discovered a new passion for Oral History during my internship at the National Guard Militia Museum.”
~ Claire
Site: National Guard Militia Museum of New Jersey-Sea Girt
Major: History / Secondary Education

My internship at the National Guard Museum provided a great link between my History and Education majors. It is a small museum that has been working to expand. I helped by creating lesson plans for school group visits. Assistant Curator, Carol Fowler, collects veteran oral history interviews to send to the Library of Congress’ Veterans History Project. I had the opportunity to observe a few interviews. I met some amazing veterans whose stories were inspiring. My favorite interview I sat in on was with a survivor of a fire aboard the aircraft carrier USS Forrestal during the Vietnam War. While I did not have any communications experience, the museum will benefit from an intern with film editing experience. The museum looks for volunteers/interns with technical experience to produce films to show in museum exhibits.  Interested students should download the application from their website.


“Budget cuts make volunteering at historic sites now more important than ever.”
~ Chris
Site: New Jersey State Archives
Major: History / Secondary Education

As a Collection Management intern at the State Archives in Trenton, I helped catalog 18th-century Court of Common Pleas case files from Sussex County. Processing records included carefully handling fragile records, placing fragmented and torn records in special protective Mylar folders, identifying key elements (names of plaintiffs, defendants, case type, etc.), and misfiled papers. I entered information on 850 case files into a Microsoft Access Database. Reading 18th-century script and dealing with unfamiliar legal terms and procedures was much like trying to read a foreign language at first. But my deciphering skills improved and I learned a lot about colonial legal history as well as the social and economic conditions of early New Jersey. 


 

“Working at the Militia Museum helped me find a career and a job.”
~ Jason
Major: History
Site: National Guard Militia Museum of New Jersey-Lawrenceville

I interned at the Militia Museum during my final semester at Rider (spring 2009). The museum displays weapons, uniforms and other equipment from the Revolutionary War to the present. I worked with the Museum Director as well as the Curator looking up and gathering information for future displays, giving tours, and working with the museum volunteers. After graduation I got a job at the Intrepid Sea, Air, and Space Museum in NYC. The Museum is located on the aircraft carrier Intrepid, now a national historic landmark. I am a tour guide for the general public, members and VIPs, which recently included the ambassador of Denmark. I also help out with the sales department and promoting the museum to the public. I found out about the job from the Intrepid website and knew I wanted it because of my experience working at the Militia Museum. My internship made me a stronger candidate for the position because of the historical knowledge and professional skills I acquired. The contacts I made were also important. The Militia Museum staff are some of the nicest and most helpful people I’ve ever met. Their references were key to my getting hired. My internship prepared me for the work I now do at the Intrepid. Giving tours at the Militia Museum improved my communication skills and ability to educate the public about museum artifacts and tell the stories behind them in an engaging way. Interning inspired me to pursue a career in museum services. I love my job. (Photo: Intrepid Musuem Tour Guide)


“I learned about history in ways I never could inside a classroom.”
~ Kelly
Site: National Guard Militia Museum of New Jersey-Sea Girt
Major: History / Secondary Education

My main assignment was to work on the Veterans History Project of the American Folklife Center at the Library of Congress. The Veterans History Project was created by Congress in 2000 to collect and preserve the memories of American war veterans and civilian workers. I helped the project director at Sea Girt prepare for interviews by looking up service records of interviewees, but my chief tasks were to summarize interviews and fill out the detailed Library of Congress form. I was lucky to observe several interviews in person, others I watched on dvd. This project gave me the opportunity to interact with veterans and relive their stories. It is one thing to read about the Battle of the Budge or D-Day in a textbook, but to hear eye-witnesses describe their experiences really brings history to life. I learned a lot about different wars, the branches of the military and the variety of jobs performed by service men and women including water purification specialists, radio techs, pilots and nurses. I’m proud to contribute to this valuable project that benefits veterans and builds the historic record for future researchers. I also helped answer web inquires sent to the museum. One question I particularly remember was from a woman in Australia looking for information about her long lost uncle. In one of those strange coincidences I discovered that he was an Army photographer who worked closely with a volunteer at Sea Girt! Thanks to my internship I now look at history in a different light. The veterans taught me that history is all around us everyday. Read summaries from the National Guard Militia Museum of New Jersey’s website.


“The demand and variety of work is what attracts me to this career choice.”
~ Greg
Major: History
Site: National Guard Militia Museum of New Jersey-Lawrenceville

Since I’m interested in a career in public history, internships are critical to my preparation and development. My internship at the Militia Museum gave me the opportunity to explore museum work by performing a variety of jobs on site. My main project was to write a user guide for students visiting the museum. It was designed for teachers to incorporate into their curriculum or for younger visitors to use and take home. This provided a nice introduction to the field of Museum Education. I got to try my hand at leather restoration on uniform and weapon equipment on and around the displays. The sheer fact that I got to handle material from WWI, WWII, Korea, and Vietnam was awesome, but the chance to return it to its original appearance and improve the overall look of the display was immensely satisfying. From this experience I'd have to say conservation is the best career path for me. The large range of jobs included in the conservator's mission - including maintaining a stable environment, providing proper storage, and keeping artifacts in a constant state of cleanliness - ensures that a capable conservator will always have something to do.


"I know that my time spent there will pay off for many years to come."
~ Robert
Major: History
Site: David Library of the American Revolution

Read "Summer Intern Tells All!: My Summer at the David Library" by Robert Fisher
published in the Newsletter of the David Library of the American Revolution
Volume 10, Issue 2 (Fall 2009).


"It may sound cliché but I learned History is about more than great leaders and major events."
~ Ben
Major: History
Site: Chesterfield Historical Society

I worked at the Chesterfield Historical Society in Crosswicks, NJ. They have a small museum located in an old Quaker meeting house. I learned how to use PastPerfect software to help process their collection. The majority of my experiences with history have come in the classroom or in books. What was unique about Chesterfield was that I physically interacted with history, in a way trying to rediscover it. Also, it is interesting that when we study history in school we often focus on key figures and major events. At Chesterfield I learned about the daily experiences of ordinary people living in a common place. The experience taught me the importance of preserving and studying the history of everyday life.


"Interning was a valuable experience that allowed me to work with original documents and artifacts and dedicated people who share my interest in preserving history."
~ Pam
Major: History / Elementary Education
Site: New Hope Historical Society

As an intern at the New Hope Historical Society (NHHS), I worked on The Parry Family Documents, a collection of materials relating to one of the founding families of the New Hope area covering seven generations from the colonial period to the 20th century. NHHS is located in a former Parry family home. My main task was to find out what the collection contained by creating an annotated inventory of each item in every box. Indexing the letters, receipts, newspaper clippings, photographs and other materials was a challenging and exciting activity that required deciphering difficult handwriting, making sense of unfamiliar terms or snippets of information, and identifying old photographs. I needed to conduct research in numerous archives to piece the information and the people together in order to write useful annotations. As I went through the boxes, I also preserved items when needed. I was able to complete an inventory list for each box, which will be used by NHHS to catalogue the collection. My research also uncovered new information about the Parry Family. This internship introduced me to the operations of a local historical society and gave me insight into the running of a small non-profit organization. Interning at a place like NHHS is worthwhile for the experience, knowledge and skills you take away, but even more rewarding for what you give back in return.


"Working in the heart of the state capital was exciting and gave me a greater understanding of the role of the government in preserving history."
~ Chris
Major: History / Secondary Education
Site: New Jersey State Archives

My internship taught me the key skills of the archival profession: how to process and catalogue historical records. First, I catalogued the Works Progress Administration (WPA) inventory of state archival holdings conducted during the mid-1930s to improve accessibility for both archivists and the public. The catalogue will also be used by the archival staff to identify lost or stolen items and facilitate their recovery. I discovered one document listed in the WPA inventory but missing at the State Archives - Lord Carteret's declaration of war against the Dutch in the 17th century. I also began processing a newly acquired collection of East Jersey Proprietary records, which gave me the chance to handle materials few people have seen including letters written by colonial leaders Lord Stirling, Robert Morris and Richard Stockton. The staff was supportive and encouraging. Interning at the State Archives gave me the opportunity to meet New Jersey Secretary of State, Nina Mitchell Wells. She provided me with additional experiences including special tours of the State House and the New Jersey State Museum and admission to the Amistad Commission's Conference on Teaching African American History in New Jersey Schools. I definitely recommend interning at the New Jersey State Archives for the professional experience and the excitement of working with historical documents.


"My internship gave me a sense of what it is really like to be professional historian."
~ Jessica
Major: History
Site: Boston African American National Historic Site

I wanted to intern in Boston because of my interest in early American history. I found a position at the African American National Historic Site, part of Boston National Historic Park operated by the National Park Service (NPS). Located on Beacon Hill, the site contains roughly two dozen historic buildings including homes, businesses, schools, and churches, making it the largest area of pre-Civil War black owned structures in the U.S. As an intern, I conducted research on women involved in Abolition and the Underground Railroad who lived in Boston and specifically on Beacon Hill. I visited a number of different libraries and archives including some of the nation’s most prestigious and exclusive research institutions like the Massachusetts Historical Society and the Boston Athenaeum. I also participated in the Boston Historic National Park Service training day held at Charlestown Navy Yards. The experience has significantly improved my research and writing skills and strengthened my desire to pursue a graduate degree and career in history.


"For someone who plans on continuing their studies after Rider and focusing on the American Revolution, this internship has been ideal."
~ Omar
Major: History
Site: David Library of the American Revolution

My internship had me carrying out several types of duties, from assisting historians on their research, to answering the inquiries of the general public on subjects pertaining to the Revolution. It has allowed me to meet some of the experts in the field and given me the opportunity to browse one of the largest collections of primary resources on the subject. One of the highlights of this internship thus far has been a trip to Sotheby's in New York City, where I was given the privilege of attending a lecture on General Thomas Gage, the Colonial governor of New York and Massachusetts. This trip was especially insightful for I was also given the honor of dining with a direct descendent of General Gage and the chance to discuss various topics on the Revolution with her.

*An article in the Newsletter of the David Library of the American Revolution (Summer 2007) praised Omar for reviving their “dormant” internship program. According to the staff, “Omar promptly became an asset to the Library. He was quickly trained in basic librarianship to assist in the smooth running of reading room operations, but it was not long before his research skills and familiarity with our collections were strong enough for him to assist clientele, including Fellows, with research, and to create innovative reading room displays to showcase certain holdings.” Omar’s experience at the David Library not only “fanned the flames of [his] passion for history,” but also helped him achieve his goal of attending graduate school. Omar entered the MA program in History at Rutgers University-Camden in Fall 2007.