How I Crowdsourced $2,000 and Took an Unpaid Internship in Philadelphia

Back in 2014 I thought I was going to be a public historian, archivist to be exact. Within the public history field, internships are not only considered a good idea they are almost a mandate to move your career forward. No matter if you are going to graduate school (as I did) or straight into a career having an internship on your resume offers real-world experience implementing skills you theorized in the classroom.

For me those real-world skills came from the Alice Paul Institute (API), a National Historic Landmark and former home of Alice Paul, working on the archival collection. Throughout the course of the internship I lived in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania while interning just across the river in Mt. Laurel, New Jersey. My undergraduate thesis focused on the National Woman’s Party and I used my time at the archives to gain some background information to propel my thesis forward come senior year.

For those of you unfamiliar, a quick history lesson: Alice Paul was the president of the National Woman’s Party, a radical group of suffragists whose silent sentinels, prisoned hunger strikes, and burning of President Wilson’s speeches propelled the passage of the 19th Amendment to the Constitution, giving women the right to vote throughout the entire United States.  Though Paul is most known for her suffragist work, she later wrote the Equal Rights Amendment, which in 1977 fell just a few states shy of ratification.

Unfortunately for those of us in the public history field, finding a paid internship is challenging. So instead of saying, “I can’t” I decided to find a way to Philadelphia by crowdsourcing money and resources for my internship at API. Below are three ways, and advice I learned from it, to find the funding for an unpaid internship:

 

  1. GoFundMe.com My GoFundMe page had almost $1,500 when I withdrew it from the account. What made it work wasn’t just creating one but how I managed the page. Instead of the usual “share” without adding detailed information, I took the time to write very specific blurbs about the internship, the experience I was gaining, and how it was going to help me academically. The GoFundMe became a voice for my future, sharing my experiences in a very open format.
  2. Internship Scholarship The Career Center at Morehead State University offered a small scholarship for students interning outside of Eastern Kentucky. I was thankful to have an internship that met all of the criteria included in the award and received $500 towards any of my living expenses. My advice here would be to check your resources just because the internship says “unpaid” doesn’t mean there are not resources available to you.
  3. Personal Connections Networking isn’t just for internship and career searches. I just so happened to have met someone who lived just outside of Philadelphia at a conference the previous fall. She happened to work in the theatre community and knew a company with an empty apartment for the month I was there, offering a fully-furnished apartment at the fraction of the cost. With that, it’s important to reach out to those in your network; do you have a distant cousin who lives in the city you’re interning in? Send out a Facebook message asking if anyone knows anyone—we’re lucky to live in such a global society after all!

 

So what did this internship offer me? For one, I returned my senior year and was immediately offered a position in the archives making much more money than many student positions because of my skills. Additionally the History Department at Morehead State decided to begin a Public History minor for students like me. Most importantly, I leveraged that internship to get a paid internship the following summer and was accepted to the Museum Studies graduate program at the University of Kansas. Now, three and a half years later, I’m not an archivist (and changed my mind about that career!) but those skills propelled me from one position to the next, leading me to where I am today.

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Cheley Colorado Camps

Hey y’all! With the Internship Fair coming up, I thought it would be a good time to tell you about one of the attendees, one that is very near and dear to my heart. Cheley Colorado Camps is a summer camp located high in the Rocky Mountains in beautiful Estes Park, Colorado. Cheley facilitates a whole host of activities for boys and girls aged 9-17 including hiking, backpacking, riding, and so much more. The Cheley experience is unlike any other, and even today it’s still one of the most important formative events of my life.

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One of the first things people learn about Cheley is that the camp is 100% technology-free for campers. That’s right: no phones, no social media, no TV, nothing! Even staff are encouraged to limit their phone usage. Believe it or not, though, that actually ended being one of my favorite things about it. Being out in the wild, having face-to-face conversations with all of your friends, and disconnecting from all the stress of the outside world (I attended during an election year once, so believe me, there was nothing more I wanted to do than disconnect) is one of the most relaxing experiences ever. Speaking of friends, I made some of the greatest friends I’ll ever had through Cheley, many of them I never would have met otherwise. My roommate my first year was from Cambridge, England and grew up in a variety of countries all over the world, but coming to Cheley and taking away our phones helped break down cultural barriers. Even today, she’s still one of my best friends and we manage to catch up with each other often.

If you ask anyone who has ever gone to Cheley, one of the first things they’ll tell you about is the fantastic staff. And that’s not an exaggeration-Cheley is renowned for having great counselors, in no small part because the staff are having as much fun as the kids. While yes, there’s a lot of responsibility involved in supervising the campers, staff are involved in all the same traditions and activities that happen in and outside of camp. More often than not, the counselors in my unit seemed more like fun older siblings than supervisors. They got to go on the same hikes, rides, and camping trips as we did, but more than that, they often served as mentors, guiding us to becoming our best selves. As a matter of fact, listening to my hiking counselor talk about all the experiences she had while studying at KU helped influence my decision to become a Jayhawk myself!

The best thing Cheley ever did for me, however, was inspire a sense of self-sufficiency in me. One of the toughest hikes I ever took part in at Cheley was Chasm Lake my first year. For context, Chasm Lake is located on a trail that, if you just follow for just a little over two miles, takes you to the summit of Longs’ Peak. Longs’ Peak is the highest peak in Rocky Mountain National Park and a notorious 14er (that is, a mountain over 14,000 feet in elevation). Additionally, much of the trail happens above timber line, when the air is so thin that trees can’t grow. In short, this was no cake walk. But completing this hike was probably the biggest self-esteem boost of my life. So much of that hike was me realizing that my body was capable of anything I put it to, it was just my mindset that was blocking me. Realizing what I could really do on my own gave a newfound sense of sufficiency that I couldn’t have gotten anywhere else. And I think that’s what Cheley is really all about. Yes, being in the mountains away from all your problems and singing campfire songs with your best friends is fun, but the best thing about Cheley is learning about yourself. From the counselors right on down to the campers themselves, Cheley is about finding yourself and what you can do. If that sounds like something you want to be a part of, I couldn’t recommend an internship with Cheley Colorado Camps more.

By Lauren

Hacking your workday

Some workdays are effortless. You feel energized and refreshed when you arrive at work. The sun is shining. You are productive. You have interesting interactions with your coworkers. You have a fantastic idea that is well-received by your supervisor. You get compliments on your outfit. Your lunch is delicious. You are incredibly productive. You feel on top of the world.
Other work days are a struggle. You wake up on the wrong side of the bed. You feel tired no matter how much coffee you drink. You feel unfocused. You are not as productive as you’d like to be. Your hair doesn’t look right. Your shoes hurt your feet.
It’s difficult to know why some workdays are great and others aren’t so good. I think a lot of it is about the energy and attitude we bring to our work. One thing that allows me to control the type of workday I have is to keep tabs on my mindset. This isn’t alway something that’s within my control, but I find that when I try to remain in a state of gratitude, it helps immensely. Sometimes I do a journal entry in the morning, before work, and I always try to end each entry by listing a few things I’m grateful for that day.
Another thing that helps me is to get up and move around. During my lunch hour each day, I try to either take a walk, go for a swim, or do a short workout at the gym. This helps me keep my energy up for the afternoon hours. And getting the blood flowing also helps keep my mind in a good state. Getting up and moving around once an hour or so is also a great tool for keeping up your energy. I have certain tasks to perform throughout the day (like sorting the mail) that build in a little bit of movement throughout the day.
There are a lot of great tools and tricks to stay in a good headspace at work – what do you do to hack your workday?
by Ellen