The Summer Internship Program, launched this year by University Career Services, connects nonprofits with students who are First Generation or Black, Indigenous, or a Person of Color (BIPOC) or who have not yet had an internship. Through this program, organizations offer paid experiences to students, in which they gain meaningful experiential learning opportunities and mentorship within the community, as well as skills, knowledge, and career insight.
Four of the eighteen students participating in the Summer Internship Program are interning at museums around Lincoln this summer. Museums are an integral part of our community, as they preserve history and tell stories from the past for generations to come.
Shatha Al-Gharib, a Business Administration major, is interning at the International Quilt Museum as a Museum Collections Intern.
“Museums are a way for a community to come together to learn about history and culture,” Al-Gharib said. “At the international quilt museum, I contribute to that by helping with the preservation and care of the quilts so they can continue to get displayed for as long as possible.”
Al-Gharib has been able to learn about the behind-the-scenes work that takes place in a museum. Sarah Walcott, the Collections Manager at the International Quilt Museum, speaks on some of the things Al-Garib has been able to accomplish thus far.
“Shatha has assisted visiting scholars, including Elizabeth Townsend (Professor of Law, Tulane University) and Paula Richter (Curator, Peabody Essex Museum) in their object research. She has also assisted IQM Collections staff in preparing for our annual international advisory board meeting, worked on care and conservation of IQM’s WWII quilt collection, and attended to many additional conservation tasks with other students and volunteers,” said Walcott. “Shatha’s positive attitude and attentiveness to her work have made her a wonderful addition to the IQM Collections team.”
Al-Gharib acknowledges her opportunity to learn about the importance of museums and encourages others to come visit the International Quilt Museum so that they, too, take advantage of the opportunity to dive into the culture and history of the quilts displayed there.
“Before my internship at the International Quilt Museum, I had no idea of the importance of quilts in many people’s lives, but I’ve learned so much in just a couple weeks,” said Al-Gharib. “I hope others come visit the museum to learn about the artistic and cultural significance of quilts and learn about the stories behind some of the quilts!”
Not only are museums valuable for telling stories, but they can also inspire youth in the community. Nadjia Logans, a Math/Mathematical Finance major, is a Museum Collections Research Assistant in Entomology for the University of Nebraska State Museum.
“When I am preparing specimens in the Visible Lab, it gives people in the Lincoln community a chance to not only hear about some cool bugs, but they can also get a sneak-peak at the processes involved in research!” said Logans. “I also really cherish the opportunity I have to inspire future scientists. Field trips and younger children often come through the museum and watch the work being done in the Visible Lab, and I know that being able to share what I am doing can possibly spark an interest in them. One of my favorite parts of my job is seeing kids’ faces light up when they are able to learn more about entomology and watch how I prepare specimens for the museum. Even though insects can be a little bit scary at first, it makes me happy that most people (both young and old) are still open to learning more about them!”
Logans emphasizes the importance of museums for inspiring and educating people of all ages in an interactive space.
“Museums allow people in the community to dig deeper into their interests in science and the world around them,” said Logans. “People can read books, but being able to see specimens firsthand and ask questions can really be a game-changer for those who want to learn more. And there’s never a wrong time to learn about science, so the museum is perfect for people of all ages.”
The students in these internships who have been gaining a lot of knowledge and skills aren’t the only ones benefiting from the program. They have brought valuable perspectives that positively impact the organization as well.
“We are thrilled to be part of the Summer Internship Program because of its support of first-generation and BIPOC students. The prioritization of opportunities for these historically underrepresented students, as well as the financial compensation furnished by the program, are critical to addressing systemic barriers to entry in many professions, including the museum field.” said Walcott. “By prioritizing equitable experiences for interns, the Summer Internship Program not only empowers individuals, but contributes to the overall growth and transformation of organizations like the International Quilt Museum.”