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A Step “Back In Time” Prepares History Major for the Future

Rosie Cohen, a junior majoring in history and minoring in theatre arts & law & society spent the summer of 2021 as an interpretation intern at Old Sturbridge Village, a living history museum in central Massachusetts.

How did you find out about this opportunity and how did you apply?

I found out about this opportunity after speaking with Elizabeth Gittens at the Career Connections Center. I was searching for a way to get experience in my future field that would be fun and unique, and Elizabeth shared this opportunity with me. I filled out the application forms, wrote an essay, and sent it in. I was lucky enough to be chosen to interview, and later, Old Sturbridge Village chose to bring me onboard as an interpretation intern.

What was a typical day like?

I would wake up at 6 AM, put on two petticoats, my pocket, my dress, and my cap. I would then go to the communal kitchen interns shared and make breakfast and catch up with the other interns. After breakfast was had and lunch was packed into my basket, I would carpool with some fellow interns to the Village where we would all sign in. Before the museum opened, I would go to different gardens around the museum and to the wooded area nearby to collect plants and herbs that I could use to demonstrate the preparation of herbal remedies. On my favorite days, I was sent to work in the Small House where I would spend the day talking about home remedies in the 1830’s. In the small house, I was paired with two women who were amazing resources and who had been at the village for a while. Lunch would be from noon to 1 PM, and interns usually ended up eating together above a restaurant called The Bullard Tavern. After lunch, I would either briefly go visiting to see a friend’s station or hurry back to the Small House and continue with the herbal remedies program. Around 5:30 PM the museum closed, and we carpooled back to the intern housing, made dinner, and hung out. Bedtime was usually around 10 or 11 PM.

What were you suprised to learn during your experience?

One thing I did not expect to learn was a new instrument. I was lucky enough to be friends with some of the participants in the yearlong fellowship program and one of them taught me how to play the concertina. I learned how to read music, the history of the instrument, and how to play a few period appropriate songs. I never expected to be able to do this, and never considered myself musical, but learning an instrument in the context of how it would historically be taught made it possible for me. I now have my own concertina that I brought back to school with me

How does this opportunity connect to your future goals?

Because of this internship, I advanced several personal goals: I developed the ability to convey complex historical concepts to a layman audience, I made connections with people inside my field, and I got to experience what the rhythm of working in a museum would be like. Already these connections have helped me find new opportunities, and I am still friends with many of the interns I worked with.

What was your most significant accomplishment during this experience?

My most significant accomplishment during this learning experience would definitely be the employee training materials I wrote. Over the course of the internship, I compiled information on 25 native or naturalized herbs, what they were used for, how they worked from a biological perspective, and compared and contrasted Indigenous and Anglo herbal remedies in the 1830’s. It was a hard research project, but so satisfying to see it be finished and formatted. It feels really good knowing I was able to leave something to help the next person who is excited about herbal remedies.

Interested in applying to this or other internship opportunities? Schedule an appointment with your career adviser on Handshake. Applications are also being accepted for Opportunity Funding available to help students participate in unpaid summer internships, projects, and research opportunities.

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