By Kate Smith
We are in week two of our internship series. Last week we learned what internships can be like at host organizations. This week we’ll look at intern programs through a college supervisor’s eyes.
Megan Pellegrino is the Museum Studies Academic Coordinator at Walsh University and has been working with local sites to find great environments for students since 2008. She was willing to share some insights about quality internships.
Here’s what she had to say:
What kind of internships do you look for or set up for students?
First, I look for museums that have professionally trained staff members. Then, I work to match students with mentors in their specific area of interest, such as collections, education or administration. The mentors understand that this must be a “learning” internship. They are there to learn the skills of a museum professional, not to scan documents for six months.
What do you hope students get out of their internships?
My goal is that students have opportunities to put theory into practice and to experience what it would be like to be a museum professional. I also hope that the internship experiences confirm for them that they have chosen the right field of study and future career path.
What is the ideal structure for an internship?
I think that it works best for a student to be paired with a specific staff member so that they can act as a supervisor and mentor. Supervisors should complete a midterm and final evaluation each semester and communicate any issues or problems with me so that I can intervene if necessary. I am also there to serve the student and make sure he or she is getting worthwhile experience. The best internships are ones in which the student is able to identify something that they are passionate about.
I cannot stress enough how important internships are for our students. Graduates of our program almost always say their internship was the most important aspect of their education. I am so thankful to the museum professionals who work with our students and give them these amazing learning opportunities. It is an invaluable gift that they are giving them.
Kate Smith is a Region 5 representative of the Ohio Local History Alliance and Special Projects Coordinator at the Dennison Railroad Depot Museum in Dennison, Ohio.