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Intern Spotlight: Laurel Taylor, Education Department

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Why intern at the WWII Museum even if you’re not a history major?

As a literature major, having spent the majority of my fall semester analyzing gothic novels from the 1790s, I thought I’d take a chance and apply for an internship at The National World War II Museum. Coming off a losing streak at landing a job, I was pleasantly surprised when the Museum offered me an interview. However, I was soon mortified. As the interview approached, I played through nightmarish versions of the interview: “What’s your favorite WWII moment?” “Um, when it was over…” “Who were the Allied leaders?” “…the US?” “What year was Pearl Harbor?” “That was in Hawaii…” I couldn’t remember anything I had learned about World War II! I’m not a history major, so clearly I wasn’t equipped with the knowledge to command this job.

I couldn’t be more wrong. When I finally interviewed, they explained that I didn’t need to know everything about World War II. I came with my own set of skills – researching and writing; and I would learn the history, just like all the staff, interns, and volunteers who continue to learn new things every day. My first day included exploring the museum and getting into all the special features, like the Beyond All Boundaries movie, free! Since that day, no matter what I’ve been assigned to work on, I haven’t stopped learning. Working at any museum means you are eager to learn, and to enhance the learning experience of others.

And if there is one thing I’ve learned, it’s that World War II, like all history, is inherently interdisciplinary. Do you study music? The 1940s were a golden age for songwriting, and many songs were directly influenced by and commenting on the war. Like gardening? Victory gardens, arising due to rationing during the war, produced about 1/3 of the vegetables grown in the United States (the museum also has one of its own!). Interested in African-American history? The Tuskegee Airmen were the first African-American pilots in the US Armed Forces, risking their lives (with an amazing record of success) despite segregation in the military and Jim Crow laws at home. Fan of Russian literature? Check out the socialist realism from the 1930s. Women’s studies minor? WWII was crucial in the movement of women from the domestic to the industrial realm. Can’t learn enough about business? World War II meant total war, ending the Great Depression through increased production and jobs.  

Marxist? Vegan? Pacifist? The point is – if you’re interested in anything, you’re interested in World War II. An experience interning at this museum will change your life. It will open your eyes to the incredible significance of an event like World War II, and how it has shaped the world today as we know it. Whatever your skills or interests, history aside, there’s something here for you. I hate/love to sound like a WWII propaganda poster, but we want YOU at the National World War II Museum, even if you can’t immediately find Peleliu – the location of the bloodiest amphibious battle in the Pacific Theater – on a world map.

Trick question! It’s now called Palau. But you’ll know that soon!

Learn more about becoming an intern at The National WWII Museum and how to apply here.

laurel taylor

Posted by Laurel Taylor, Education Intern

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