My internship at Harpers Ferry gave me a sense of confidence that I never thought I’d have at my age. Although I had completed my bachelor’s degree and had already applied to graduate schools for public history, I often wondered if I was making the right decision. I found myself spending a lot of time researching other options and thinking of back-up plans. My experiences at Harpers Ferry gave me the opportunity to thoroughly explore opportunities in public history. In twelve weeks I went from not being sure if I wanted to go to graduate school for public history to being sad that graduate school would keep me from working in the field for two years. At Harpers Ferry, the rangers and other staff treated me as a complete equal. I was given the opportunity to take on meaningful projects in areas that interested me. I had a chance to lead curriculum-based programs not only for school-aged groups, but for families and special needs groups. I had a chance to work on major events like the School House Ridge program, which provided programming for over 660 local fifth graders. In addition to being given thoughtfully planned programs to follow, I had a chance to work to develop my own programming. The education office is filled with amazing interpreters who modeled exemplary programs, provided constructive feedback, and remained open to new ideas. The office looks for continual improvement and I always felt that my ideas were taken seriously. Work weeks were fast-paced and exciting. I loved having the opportunity to do something different every day, to work outside, and to meet new challenges and new people. As a National Guard member, the staff at Harpers Ferry was extremely supportive and always made sure that I could meet my obligations. The staff at Harpers Ferry was wonderfully helpful and supportive and guided me in exploring different options both in and out of the National Park Service. I gained not only an exposure to the field, but the chance to develop some expertise and self-assurance. I have become a better teacher, interpreter, manager, and team member. Harpers Ferry helped to make me more adaptable and better prepared to enter graduate school and my future endeavors.
Last updated: April 10, 2015