Alicia Watts ’12

This summer, I had the wonderful opportunity to work at the International Women’s Air and Space Museum in Burke Lakefront Airport in Cleveland, OH. IWASM is a small museum that is intermingled with the concourse of the airport. The point of the museum is to display famous women aviators and show how they have impacted history. The museum displays women like Bessie Coleman, Amelia Earhart, The Women Airforce Service Pilots of World War II, and modern women astronauts. With only a few display cases the museum may seem quaint, but it holds a lot of importance and information. The museum has archives of hundreds of women aviators, and prides itself in keeping all of their information up to date. While working there, I was able to go through the archives of women like Opal Kunz who was and early aviator with Amelia Earhart, Margaret Hurlburt, a Women’s Airforce Service Pilot, and Elvina Graham a Women’s Army Corps technician. While studying these women, I was able to look at artifacts ranging in identification cards, to uniforms, to death certificates. I learned the way around a museum by learning how to accession (record) all the items into a database, in order for researchers to be able to find the items more efficiently. Overall, I learned a lot in this internship, and would encourage anyone to work at a museum if they get the opportunity.

I found this particular internship by applying for a different one. I had originally applied for an internship in which I could be placed with a certain non-profit. While researching that particular internship, IWASM was on the list, and I decided to investigate the museum more. By looking more into the museum, I found my senior project topic, and became interested in museum work. After not getting the internship, I emailed the Executive Director of the museum and asked if I could volunteer over the summer. Being overjoyed, the Director gave me the opportunity to be an unpaid intern, and I took it. Even if one opportunity does not work out, does not mean something else cannot work out in the process. I learned to always keep in contact with the people of the internship because who knows the type of impression you can make on them which can lead to another opportunity in the end.