Future archivist getting ideal experience this summer

Rising junior history major Allison Blythe sat in Dr. Courtney DeMayo Pugno’s Research Methods class last spring, contemplating a career exploration assignment. At the same time, she was looking for internships when something caught her eye: an opportunity at the National Archives and Records Administration in College Park, Maryland.

Dr. DeMayo said, ‘We’re applying for this,’” Allison recalls. And so she set out to do just that. In her application, she focused on some Heidelberg experiences that would be relevant, such as her work in the Writing Center and the library and her Honors service learning at the Seneca County Museum, which she stretched beyond the 40-hour requirement to a full year. She reached out to Mark McKee in the Owen Center for Academic & Career Support for assistance on enhancing her resumé.

“There was a lot of work that went into it. We read and reread every word and analyzed my materials very carefully,” she said.

The extra effort paid off. Within 48 hours, Allison got an email about an interview, which took place via phone during spring break. Two weeks earlier than expected, she another email from the National Archives that caught her by surprise. She was in!

Allison will be working in the National Archives’ Cartographic Branch, helping to digitize cataloged materials, creating metadata and holdings maintenance. And, she’ll have a Heidelberg presence to guide her.

Brandi Oswald, ’13, has been employed in the Cartographic Branch for the past few years and will be Allison’s internship supervisor.

“Brandi contacted me to see if there are specific projects I’m interested in. I’ll be shadowing her in the reference room a couple days a week. I’m super excited to work with her,” Allison said. “Everyone’s been super nice and accommodating and looking to help students get a well-rounded archival experience.”

In addition to living in the nation’s capital for eight weeks, Allison is most excited about getting to work with actual historical documents. It’ll be excellent preparation for her planned career as an archivist.

It’s the ideal career for the woman who admits, “I just really like old things.”

“I like working with documents and writing research papers. Long term, I hope I get to help others with historical research. That’s the really cool part of being an archivist.”


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