OTTUMWA --- Aidan McMahon is a current Arts & Sciences student who completed an internship with Iowa Heartland History Connection in Ottumwa this spring. It all started when Iowa Heartland History Connection Director Erin Naylor reached out to Indian Hills about an internship position she was looking to fill. “I benefited from internships when I was in school, so I knew I wanted to offer the same opportunities for students,” Erin said. “Internships are a great way to get a feel for what a particular field is really like. When a student is thinking about career options, getting that hands-on experience is invaluable.”
The Business Solutions division worked with Arts & Sciences faculty members to see if there were any students who would be a good fit. “I had Aidan as one of our Presidential Scholars and it was obvious his love of history, reenactment of historical events, and the arts,” said Dr. Jennifer Boyenga, Department Chair for Arts & Sciences. “When the internship opportunity arrived, I knew this was the perfect match for all Aidan’s interests.”
Through his internship, Aidan gained valuable experience in various aspects of museum work. He helped write informational materials, set up exhibits, and learned how to properly handle and preserve artifacts in the museum’s collection. He learned how to use the PastPerfect archival system, a software utilized by thousands of museums and institutions worldwide. Aidan was also able to sit in on Iowa Heartland History Connection board meetings, which showed him the vital role of donations and community support for the museum.
Aidan took pride in his work with Iowa Heartland History Connection and is grateful for everything he learned throughout his internship. The experience helped him confirm that working in a museum is the right career path for him. “It’s pushed me in the direction I want to go and helped me get lots of connections and learn what I want to focus in,” he said.
Erin also enjoyed having Aidan at the museum. “We appreciate having interns here as well because they provide help with our various projects and bring in new ideas and perspectives,” she said.
Aidan has plans to transfer to the University of Northern Iowa to get his bachelor’s degree in public history with a certificate in museum studies. His dream is to work for the Smithsonian one day.