Thursday, October 22, 2009

This Blog Has Moved

Greetings. Since I am no longer an intern at Gettysburg National Military Park and since have run out of material to share, I have decided to retire Interning Learning. However, I have a new but very similar blog to replace it. The new site is I will continue my articles and essays from there. It is essentially the same site and contains all the posts from this blog, plus some more. Thank you again to all who followed this blog and made my internship a memorable one!

Monday, October 19, 2009

A Summer in Retrospect

The March. Pictured left to right: Intern Rich Smith, Ranger Scott Hartwig, Ranger Glenn Knight, me (in my Berdan Green uniform), Ranger Matt Atkinson, Ranger Bob Hall, Ranger Dan Welch, Intern Kristen Campbell, and Intern Chris Brusatte. What a company!

The summer season of 2009 will be one which I will never forget. My three months living on the Gettysburg Battlefield offered new challenges and adventures every day. The events of the summer had so many positive impacts that I know I won't be able to recount them all.

I did not only learn more about the Battle of Gettysburg and American History on a daily basis, but I learned how to be a better presenter, how to more effectively interpret the history of our nation to people of all ages and backgrounds. I had firsthand access to one of the finest collections of Civil War books, records, photos, and primary resources in the country. Through this bounty of historical material, I was able to conduct further research for my programs and even discovered more about my own ancestors who fought in that war.

On one of my first days working the front desk at the visitor center, a middle-aged family man approached me at the desk. He was from New Hampshire. He told me he believed he had an ancestor who died in the battle and was buried there, but was never sure if it was anything more than family legend. "What was his name," I asked him. After he told me, I pulled out one of the mammoth record books kept behind the desks to search for the soldier's name. I found it. The man almost fell over. I then pulled out a map of the National Cemtery and showed him where his long lost ancestor was buried. The man was ecstatic. He told me he was going to rush back to his camper and tell his eighty-eight year old grandmother (confined to a wheelchair) and tell her he finally found her great, great uncle. Inside, I was equally enthused. I felt good. I made a difference to a man and his family. It was moments like that which really made the summer worthwhile.

I experienced an equally gratifying moment one July day when I was informally talking with visitors at the Copse of Trees near the Angle. A family of five told me it was their first time to the battlefield. They wanted to know all about the monuments along the stonewall. When I reached the 20th Massachusetts Monument, I told them the touching story of its origins. Atop the monument's rather short pedestal sits a massive pudding stone rock weighing several tons. It once sat in a town park where many of the soldiers in that regiment played in their youth. It came to represent the same youth lost in the great battle. "The rock was taken from a park in West Tisbury, Massachusetts," I noted. The family gave a collective gasp. "We are from West Tisbury," the father shook his head in amazement. For that family, they were able to make a connection to the Gettysburg Battlefield which may not have otherwise happened.

If there is one thing I learned over the summer, it was that the place represents different things to different people. A grown man, a first time visitor, began to openly weep in front of me and his own family after I had described what had occurred in the lush fields before us. To a child on one of the children programs I helped with came a desire to learn more, a youthful exuberance to explore and appreciate. The stories go on and on.

During the first weeks of training, Supervisory Historian Scott Hartwig led us interns and new rangers on a three mile hike from the Slyder Farm at the base of Big Round Top, up Little Round Top, up Cemetery Ridge, and back to the visitor center...all in period Civil War gear. A half dozen photos with tourists and several miles later, we feasted heartily at the visitor center that evening. Our feet were killing us, but hey, we got one good glimpse into Civil War life. That's what we were out to do.

Filmmaker Ken Burns, the illustrious James Jones, and myself.

I also had the opportunity to meet countless historians and public figures in addition to conversing with thousands of visitors. I met nationally renowned historians like Bill Frassanitto, Gabor Boritt, and Drew Faust, filmmakers Ken Burns and Ron Maxwell, and even actor James Earl Jones! Not to mention all the great people with the National Park Service, Gettysburg Foundation, and Licensed Battlefield Guides. And those are just to name a few!

I kept a daily journal of my adventures and misadventures throughout Gettysburg. And there are some very colorful stories indeed. Each visitor has a story to share. Perhaps I will write a book...

This will be my final full posting on Interning Learning, for I have finally run out of material to share from the summer. A new, but similar blog will be initiated in the coming days. Stay tuned.

My summer in Gettysburg was unforgettable. As I said earlier, it was something which cannot be fully recounted in one article. If anything, the summer gave me an even finer appreciation of Gettysburg's rich history and the incredible events which have taken place there. Thank you to all who shared an interest and passion in my spectacular summer.

Chris, Rich, and I pose for the photo of the summer. Taken at the Victorian Photo Studio in Gettysburg by Del Hilbert.

Sunday, October 4, 2009

Tips for Prospective Interns

I have already received many emails from fellow college students who share my love of history. Their questions are all the same: How do I get an internship at Gettysburg? Well, here are some tips which you may find of use.

I would begin by typing up a resume. Throw in everything of note you have ever achieved during and since High School. Also, get involved with local historical societies, museums, and non-profit groups in your area. The park is looking for people who have some experience in the field of history, especially young people who have given tours/presentations at other sites. For instance, I volunteered at a National Park and my county historical society. These are the best credentials you can have. I didn't include a reference letter written by a professor or anything, but it can't hurt. I did however include a reference list with names and contact info of people I previously worked with (either professional or volunteering). Also include any projects or papers you have completed regarding history. The more you include the better. Volunteer. Volunteer!

The internship itself is fantastic. You would be required to perform a number of tasks during the course of the summer. They usually include: two battle tours/presentations (usually of your choice from a list of available programs), aid with the "Join the Army" Children's Programs, education carts (hands on stuff with kids) through the museum halls, informal battlefield "roves," working the front desk, research projects, and helping rangers with other programs if needed.

Male interns live in an old brick farmhouse right near Culp's Hill and it's only a five minute walk from the visitor center. It's a very convenient location.

The internship is most definitely worth it! You will learn so much. In addition, you may get school credits for it. I got 4 History credits for mine.

I believe applications were due in late November. So, I'd get your materials in by the end of October at the very latest. The sooner you get the stuff in the better. It shows commitment on your part, and the deciders notice that. Therefore, I'd get started your resume and quickly get involved in historical groups if you aren't already.

Getting to know some rangers helps as well. Tell them why you are interested and kindly ask for some more information. This is a good way to get your foot in the door. They will take more notice of your resume because of the personal connection they already have with you. If you are in Gettysburg before that time, feel free to talk to a ranger and ask questions. Go on some programs to get a feel for what you might be doing. They'd be happy to answer your questions. Below is the information form that Education Specialist Barb Sanders sent me a year ago when I was expressing interest. Her email address can be found here.

The Summer Internship Program
Gettysburg National Military Park

Are you interested in a career with the National Park Service? Do you enjoy talking to people from across the country and around the world? Would you like to share your interest in history and help others enjoy the stories of this park? Gettysburg NMP offers internships to motivated, enthusiastic individuals who seek to share their talents and gain valuable work experience.

We want you to enjoy your internship and be successful. Interns receive up to 40 hours of formal training as well as on-the-job training as part of their internship. Training is in subjects such as, meeting/greeting the public; operating visitor facilities, organizing and presenting effective interpretive talks, interpretive techniques, and radio/safety procedures.

A typical internship in the Division of Interpretation at Gettysburg NMP consists of three things. Interns help staff the information desk at our two visitor contact facilities. This offers experience in meeting and greeting the public, providing information/orientation to the park and area, as well as an understanding of what it is visitors seek in a visit to the park. Interns are also responsible for researching, preparing and presenting two different interpretive programs, one relating to the Battle of Gettysburg, and the other dealing with the themes evoked by the National Cemetery and President Lincoln’s Gettysburg Address.

Internships are typically offered in the summer months when the park is busiest, but occasionally the park can provide internship opportunities in the Fall and Spring. A typical internship lasts 10-12 weeks. Interns work 40 hours each week, and weekend work can be expected. Positions are unpaid, although the park provides free housing and a cost of living stipend.

Our interns are in public contact positions and therefore are required to wear a uniform (usually khaki pants and a dark blue shirt). Currently we provide a uniform allowance to cover this cost.

To apply for an internship at Gettysburg NMP you should submit a resume and cover letter. Your resume should include your name, address, telephone number, the names of any colleges or universities attended, and a brief synopsis of your work experience. Your cover letter should address why you want an internship at Gettysburg NMP, and what you hope to gain from it.

Good luck to all you students of History out there!

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Extended Preview of "The National Parks"

I'm sure many of you have noticed The National Parks banner on the sidebar of this blog. I've posted a half hour preview of this new Ken Burns film. The series premieres this Sunday on PBS. Enjoy!

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Retracing Pickett's Charge

During the final week of my internship, I had the opportunity to join the 37th North Carolina/9th Texas Infantry in their march across the fields of Pickett's Charge. There must have been over one hundred gray-clad troops. It was extremely cool to traverse that field in a group this size. We began our procession from the North Carolina Monument after getting a wet plate photo done of the group. The ever entertaining and knowledgable Battlefild Guide Charlie Fennell led us on the march, giving us an excellent tour along the way. Once we approached the stonewall, they lowered their rifles to the "charge bayonets" stance and advanced towards hundreds of tourists who dashed out of their cars to snap photos. It was an excellent event. Thanks to the members of the 9th Texas for allowing me to attend!

Meet Tyler, one of the young and brave color bearers of the regiment.

Taking a break at the halfway point of the march. The Round Tops are in the far background.

Rebel water....

Unfurling the colors...

Tyler and I pose at the Abraham Bryan Farm. Good times!