Silver Lake College senior Christopher Jason of Kenosha has set his course on a museum career.
A summer internship at the National Museum of the U.S. Navy in Washington, D.C., helped the 21-year-old history major solidify this decision. At the same time, he learned skills that would translate to other fields, making him more flexible in an ever-changing job market.
The flagship museum of the U.S. Navy, where Jason interned, is located in the old Naval Gun Factory on the grounds of the Washington Navy Yard. The main building of the museum features fighter planes and submarines suspended from the ceiling.
The internship was possible thanks to a Career Ready Internship grant, awarded to SLC by Great Lakes Higher Education Guaranty Corporation.
“I became proficient in working with Excel when I archived photos from different World War II battles and put them into a matrix in an Excel document,” Christopher said. “I also learned how to operate a Lektriever machine, an automated photo storage system commonly used in museums.”
Christopher found that accuracy was vital when creating a database of the past for generations of the future.
“Details were very important because images had to be in chronological order of events that happened in World War II. I had to pay close attention to where the pictures were coming from and where they were going. I also had to find very clear, precise pictures,” he said.
Another project involved extensive research on Benjamin Franklin, who made eight voyages from the United States to France and back.
“The museum wanted information on the boats he sailed on,” Christopher said. “I had to do research in the Navy’s rare book room.”
When he wasn’t busy with those assignments, he worked in the Museum’s Education Department helping visiting children create projects including hot air balloons and submersible vessels.
“I’ve learned working at a museum does more than teach you history,” Christopher said. “They teach you to be proficient in public speaking, they teach your how to be proficient in Microsoft Excel and Office, and even such skills as working with caterers in preparation for exhibit openings. My job duties were, to a certain extent, universal and will help me pursue a museum career or find work in another field.”
Christopher also honed his networking skills as he became acquainted with eight other interns as well as museum personnel and Navy admirals.
In addition, he enjoyed field trips to some of Washington D.C.’s historic sites and museums, including the Smithsonian Institution.
“The college wants every undergraduate to participate in an internship,” said Jan Algozine, SLC director of experiential learning, career resources and internships.
“An internship is a valuable experience that helps students develop confidence and build their resume and knowledge base in a particular career field,” she said. “The more experience that a student can have in their chosen field, the better it is for their future. It gives them the hands-on experience they need to apply for their ultimate dream job.”