Intern Reflection: Chloe Harkins
My Communications degree program at Illinois State University requires an internship.When I started at ISU last fall I was apprehensive about it. Where would I apply? Would I have time to fit it in with my work schedule? What would I like to do? These questions ran through my noggin' over and over until I realized what I really enjoyed…talking and history. I remembered that when I lived in Chicago I loved visiting the Chicago History Museum and since moving to Normal had walked by the Children’s Discovery Museum in Uptown Normal about a hundred times. However, the problem with those two places was distance and relevance because I planned on living in Normal for the summer and I wanted to work with all different demographics. Not just children but also adults, seniors, students, and people from all different nationalities and backgrounds.
So in late January, I hopped on Google and researched museums in the Bloomington-Normal area; one of the first results was the McLean County Museum of History. I had only been to downtown Bloomington once or twice because school and work were in such close proximity to my apartment in Normal. As I explored the Museum’s website I stumbled upon their campaign: “Extending Excellence.” I loved the idea and wanted to be involved. At the time, I had no idea what kind of things I would be doing but knew this was where I could utilize my communication skills and my love for history. I got in contact with Deb, the Director of Volunteers and Interns, and she informed me of all the different available internships, specifically the Public Programs internship, which was a part of the Education Department. I applied in late March, was called in for an interview, and was ecstatic when I was offered the position.
One of my most challenging yet rewarding tasks over the last twelve weeks was to write a biography for one of the local historical figures being portrayed at the Evergreen Cemetery Walk this fall. I had never written a biography or even picked up the Chicago Style Manual but with the help of Candace, Director of Education, and Hannah, Education Program Coordinator, I was able to complete the biography and improve my writing skills.
History Careers Day Camp was my favorite part of my internship. During camp, I saw 10-12 year olds show genuine interest in history, archaeology, museum studies, environmental science, and architecture. I feel this program is tremendously important in educating kids about the social sciences because I personally never got these opportunities in middle school and high school. Seeing kids who come to camp to learn is an enriching experience for me and I truly loved being a part of it.
I have gained so much knowledge and experience in my time here and loved seeing the children and adults that pass through this Museum and leave with new knowledge of McLean County. I also want to take the time to thank the entire Museum staff who have been so helpful and kind during my internship. I thoroughly enjoyed my time at the McLean County Museum of History, so much so that I will be returning in the fall to complete another semester as the Public Programs Intern. See everyone at Cemetery Walk!