Ashley Swicegood - Naper Settlement

Ashley Swicegood - Naper Settlement Internship

Naper Settlement >> is in downtown Naperville. It is a 19th century historical village. There are more than nine buildings that feature costumed interpreters, talking about the history of Naperville and the period of 1831-1900 through the material in the buildings.

My responsibilities were twofold. First, I was coordinating the volunteers for their annual Civil War Days event in May. Their volunteer coordinator position was vacant, so I took over that responsibility. I had to call and email past volunteers to recruit them for the event, and then schedule and coordinate them for each position available during the two-day event. Second, I updated the volunteer hours in the Raiser's Edge database. That was pretty much just data entry, and even though sometimes it was a little tedious, I liked it so much better because it involved working with people. Through this internship I discovered that I like working with people better than I like working with paper or in an archives.

As a history major, this internship helped me realize that not all history jobs are in research or teaching. There are many careers to pursue with a history degree. Just like my other internship helped me realize what I didn't want to do, at Naper Settlement I realized that I do want to work in the museum industry. Working at Naper Settlement allowed me to see the practical/applicable side of historical scholarship. I got to see how historians and museum professionals work to share historical information with the public, and all the work that is involved with such a project.

My internship at Naper Settlement definitely contributed to my life after graduation - I am still working there! During my time as an intern I applied for a summer position, and was employed there as a Summer Building Interpreter. I worked on the weekends to help their Museum Education staff supervise the grounds and the costumed volunteers that came in to work the buildings, as well as help run the variety of activities that happen on the grounds during the summer. In August I was employed in an almost full-time position as a Museum Educator. I am a member of a team that develops public and educational programming, and I also get to dress up and give tours of the site and the different buildings, both to school field trips and the public.

I would highly recommend doing an internship to students in the history department at Wheaton . If you are considering a career in history, then an internship is the ideal way to get experience in the fields in which you think you are interested. There are a lot of small, non-profit historical organizations in the area that would gladly welcome the [free] help of an intern. It's a win-win situation: you learn about a career field, get career experience, and they get the extra help, free of charge! Doing internships not only helps you figure out your own interests, but it will show future employers that you have experience and that you are interested in challenging yourself. It is also a great way to see the application of what we study in the classroom at Wheaton , whether it be in an archives or a museum, or wherever else you might work. And, it could always lead to a job after graduation - mine did! If I hadn't done that internship, then I wouldn't be where I am now, with my current job [which I love!].