Editor's note: Intern Spotlight is a Ball State Daily News series profiling Ball State students and their summer internships. If you have any suggestions as to who we should feature next, send an email to email@example.com.
Maren Orchard’s passion for history started at a young age.
“My parents were always taking us [siblings] to museums and cultural institutions and encouraging us to look into what sparks our interest in those types of places,” she said. “My dad is also a high school history teacher so he always encouraged a love of history.
"He is also the one who introduced me to women’s history and showed me that woman have done some exciting things too.”
So, when the senior public history and women and genders studies major came across the International Women’s Air & Space Museum in Cleveland, Ohio, she knew she wanted to spend her first internship there.
Growing up in Muncie, Orchard wanted to have the opportunity to find work outside of her comfort zone and explore the option of living in a big city. Though it was challenging at first, she says her experience so far with IWASM has been great.
As a summer intern, Orchard is responsible for helping conduct research and creating traveling exhibits to further the reach of the museum into the community. She also assists with daily operations, plans activities and information for community events while also helping with the museum’s newsletter.
“With it being a small museum, I have the opportunity to really experience everything the museum has to offer,” Orchard said. “It’s been cool to get hands on museum experience. I’ve been able to lead community events but also work behind the scenes, learning and working with history and different artifacts.”
Though there are many aspects of her daily job that Orchard enjoys, she said the best part is being able to personally see the impact she is making.
“One of the best things is any time there is a younger girl that will come and say ‘Oh, can girls fly?’ or ‘I didn’t know a girl could be an astronaut,’” she said. “Those moments are really cool because you get to tell a little girl that she can have this dream and tell her about the awesome women who came before her.”
When she is not working, Orchard does her own exploring, touring other museums and joining different events throughout the city.
“IWASM is a member of Destination Cleveland and the North Coast Harbor district, so I've gotten to attend a ton of cool events and meetings about how to promote our museum within the context of the larger city,” she said. “Cleveland is definitely an up and coming city, making a new name for itself. I'm learning a ton and thrilled to get to be a part of the excitement.”
One of her favorite exhibits in the museum is one about Mercury 13, a group of 13 American women who underwent testing to see if women could stand the physical and psychological tests of being astronauts.
“None of these women even got the opportunity to be astronauts but I believe they helped pave the way for women in the future,” Orchard said.
Orchard credits the Ball State Honor’s College for giving her a scholarship to make her experience with her internship possible and after she is done in Cleveland, she hopes to still be remain involved with the museum.
She plans to go onto graduate school to get a master’s degree in public history and hopefully work with museum education in a larger museum.
Until then, Orchard will continue to enjoy her summer and take advantage of new opportunities, something she advises other students to do as well.
“Go outside your comfort zone and go with any experience that comes up,” she said. “I was searching for other internships and kind of at the last minute I came across IWASM online and it said they were only up to four hours per week. I called and told them ‘I need 40 hours, so what can we do?’ So, put yourself out there and see if people are open to what you have to offer."