Internship at local museum helps history and education major consider new career path

Glenna Van Dyke '23

Through her position as an intern at the Wayne County Historical Society, College of Wooster student Glenna Van Dyke ’23 immersed herself in the inner workings of a museum. After learning about the organization through her previous work with the Wooster Digital History Project, working with the Historical Society appealed to Van Dyke, a history and education major, because of her interests in public history and museum studies. As an APEX Fellow she assisted various committees in the museum with research, exhibit planning, and collection management, something that helped her narrow down her plans for the future. 

“This internship has helped me define what careers in history interest me the most. I’ve realized that careers in being a historical educator extend far beyond the classroom setting.”

— Glenna Van Dyke ’23

How did you learn about the internship opportunity for your APEX Fellowship?  

“I learned about the organization through the Wooster Digital History Project, a local history research program sponsored by The College of Wooster’s Department of History. Dr. Biro Walters serves on the Historical Society’s board, and she was vital in helping me attain this position. This internship was perfect for me given my interests in public history and museum studies and my prior background in Wayne County history.” 

 What interests you most about the work you did? 

“This internship immersed me in how small museums run, from the realm of management to collections to exhibit design. I got to design and conduct my own survey of over 80 stakeholders to inform our long-range plan, and I got to assist most of the committees in their research, exhibit planning, and collection management. One of the most unique projects that I worked on was helping our documents and archives chair, Susan Zimmerman, organize and de-frame all kinds of documents in our storage vaults. I loved getting hands-on experience with the society’s artifacts, some of which are over 150 years old!” 

 Who was your mentor in this position and how did they help you to succeed in this position? 

“I had the pleasure of having two mentors, Ray Leisy, our president, and Rik Goodnight, our executive director. Both had a very clear vision of my internship as both an opportunity for me to learn as much as I could about small museum management and a way to build the relationship between the College and the Historical Society. They helped me to outline the tasks of my work and connected me with other committee chairs and volunteers who wanted to teach me more about their specialty within the society.” 

 What are some skills you’ve learned that you see yourself carrying forward in your career? 

“This internship has really given me a huge boost in my communication skills. To aid the WCHS in creating their long-range plan, I sent written communication to over 80 community members and officials to get an idea of how we can better engage with the public, and I interviewed many of Wooster’s most prominent figures such as the mayor. I also learned how to better manage self-directed projects that have little overhead supervision and how to work collaboratively with volunteers and local experts to suit their needs. Lastly, I feel much more comfortable with many of the skills that are needed from museum professionals, such as working in archives with material culture and documents.” 

How has the internship helped you to see what’s next for you? 

“This internship has helped me define what careers in history interest me the most. Namely, I’m very motivated to research graduate schools that offer programs in museum studies and public history. I’ve realized that careers in being a historical educator extend far beyond the classroom setting.” 

Image: Glenna Van Dyke ’23

Posted in Experiential Learning, Showcase Stories on August 15, 2022.

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