Imagine this: you walk up to your internship on your very first day, and your new supervisor says, "Hi! So nice to meet you! Today we are going to the new Museum and Visitor Center construction site to show the Associated Press around. When we get there, you will see first hand how the team of world class conservators are restoring Philippoteaux's Pickett's Charge Cyclorama painting, as well as all the new and exciting features of the new facility!" Can this be a real internship? I did not think so until I met Dru Neil, Director of Marketing and Communications of the Gettysburg Foundation. This true story about my first day as her intern was only the start to a great and exciting job with the Gettysburg Foundation.
The Gettysburg Foundation is a nonprofit organization that joined forces with the National Park Service in raising money for the new Gettysburg Museum and Visitor Center which will have its grand opening in early spring 2008. As an intern for Marketing and Communications department, which was comprised of Dru and her assistant Michael Vyskocil, most of my days at the Rupp House consisted of copying articles that relate to the Civil War and history in general, from all over the country, as well as doing odd jobs for the department, like packaging hundreds of replica Civil War bullets for a museum convention. I also helped with the Foundation Newsletter, which put my English major to good use.
While at the Rupp House, my office was next to Denise Warthen, the Events Coordinator for the Friends of Gettysburg, which recently merged with the Gettysburg Foundation, who allowed me to help out with some of the organization's biggest events, especially the Illumination Ceremony. Every year, the town of Gettysburg celebrates Lincoln's Address in November of 1863, called Remembrance Day. The Gettysburg Foundation sponsors a Luminaria by placing candles on all the graves at the Soldiers' National Cemetery. While this is a beautiful tribute to all soldiers, then and now, a lot of work goes into the planning and executing of the event. Some of the jobs I did for the Illumination included everything from typing up the program including the hundreds of donors and their dedications, to filling bags of sand for the candles and writing a thank you letter to donors after the event.
My internship with the Gettysburg Foundation at the Rupp House was a truly great experience, and I loved every minute of it. I never thought about the behind the scenes work that goes into opening a museum or planning an event, but thanks to the nice people at the Gettysburg Foundation, I was able to leave with a new found knowledge and appreciation for what goes on. Luckily, my home institution is just down the road at Mount St. Mary's University, and I will be back in Gettysburg for the grand opening of the new Museum in the spring!