Name: Jennifer Wachtel
Internship, Co-op or Research Site: Jewish Historical Society of New Jersey
Minor: Judaic Studies, German, and Art History & Museum Studies.
Expected Graduation Year: May 2015
Briefly describe your internship, co-op, research, or service-learning opportunity, including your day-to-day tasks, responsibilities, and assignments.
Working in the archives of the Jewish Historical Society of New Jersey, I process collections, describe collections, create finding aids, digitize resources, and optimally preserve rare and fragile photographs and documents. Each day I begin with a new collection box and arrange the records according to their creator and contents. Then I update these records in the database and describe them for researchers. When I create finding aids, I conduct outside research to provide historical context for the collection. Occasionally, I will scan images that the archives might find useful for future exhibits and publication on their website. Finally, I preserve items for longevity, such as brittle newspaper collections, so that they are available for future use.
Describe the process of obtaining your internship, research, or co-op opportunity.
At first, I applied to the Morris County Historical Society. Although their positions were filled, they suggested that I apply to the Jewish Historical Society which closely matched the experience I listed on my resume. I found the position simply by following the Morris County Historical Society's advice and applying using the forms on the Jewish Historical Society of New Jersey's website. I used an updated version of the resume I created when I was applying for an internship through the Shriver Center as a sophomore. I also used the resources for applying for internships by email available on the Career Center's website. The interview process itself was less formal; although the director called me to confirm my availability, she seemed impressed with my resume and experience right from the start.
Which of the following resources did you use to find your current experience?
Contacted organizations on my own.
What have you enjoyed the most about your position or organization/company?
I have most enjoyed the opportunity to work with colleagues who are interested Jewish history. I find that my supervisors, especially the director, are highly knowledgeable about areas of Jewish history of which I was previously unaware. I am also very grateful for the appreciation the archivist shows when I dedicate extra time to making sure the records are as detailed as possible.
What have you gained from your experience that you could not have gained from another opportunity?
Interning at the Jewish Historical Society of New Jersey has revealed that I have much more to learn about my own heritage and about standard archival preservation practices. The Society has recently expanded its mission from Northern New Jersey to the entire state, so I also learned about the behind-the-scenes processes entailed in changing the scope of a historical organization.
What advice would you give to another student who is seeking an internship or similar experience?
I would advise going to the Career Center Office as soon as possible to develop a resume and practice interviewing in person and over the phone. I would also suggest referring to their online resources so you can review how to apply for internships by email.
Please provide a short quote about what you liked most about your position / earning internship credit / the internship placement process.
I am so excited that I found an internship experience perfectly suited to my interests! I am also especially grateful that the Shriver Center and Career Center Office prepared me in advance for the interview process.