Thank You For Visiting!

Well all the interviewees have gone home, most of the current students have cleared out for spring break, and I just woke up from a 36 hour nap (just kidding, it was more like 26  hours – tops). Interview Weekend was a fabulous, exhausting, success and all of us at CGP hope you enjoyed yourselves.

On behalf of the CGP classes of 2013 and 2014, it was a sincere pleasure to meet all of you, and we wish you the best of luck for the future, wherever you end up.

- Lindsey

Summer Internships

As you may know, CGP students are required to complete a summer internship. I am in the middle of my internship search even as I type these words (okay, it’s more of a wait at this point), but several of my classmates have found really cool internships already. Here’s second year Colin Walfield to talk a little about CGP internships in general and his internship in particular.

- Lindsey

Summer Internships

So where exactly do CGP students go during their summers? Well the answer to that question is everywhere! All CGP students must complete a summer internship between their first and second years in the program. Last summer my classmates found internships at museums everywhere from the Farmers Museum and Baseball Hall of Fame in Cooperstown, New York to a former missile silo in Cooperstown, North Dakota. For a complete listing of every place CGP students have interned since 2008, check out the CGP website’s internship page. Most internships last between eight and twelve weeks, but some, like mine, went a bit longer.

CGP students have completed internships involving collections, education, public programs, fundraising, exhibits, historic preservation, and in some cases, all of the above, so there is something for everybody.

TR Nat Park

Theodore Roosevelt National Park

Last summer, I joined two of my other classmates in finding an internship in Washington DC. I wasn’t particularly fixated on interning there, but I was interested in working with the National Park Service. Before attending CGP, I spent my summer working as an interpretation intern at Theodore Roosevelt National Park in North Dakota and I wanted to work with NPS once again.

After applying to a number of different places I ended up at the NPS Museum Management Program. Spending the previous summer living and working at a National Park was an amazing experience, but I wanted to try something a bit different. The Museum Management Program produces the policy and guidance for managing and caring for collections at hundreds of NPS sites all across the United States. NPS collections include everything from dinosaur fossils and mineral specimens to paintings and historic furniture and many sites do not have full time curatorial staff, so quite a bit of guidance is sometimes needed. In addition to this work, the Museum Management Program has also focused on interpreting NPS collections and public outreach by producing collection focused exhibits, lesson plans, and books.

I found this internship through the National Council for Preservation Education, which offers internships in historic preservation, public history, archaeology, and collections work. Internships through NCPE are mostly in Washington DC and pay $12 an hour.

Over the summer my main project was rewriting the chapter on the museum environment in the National Park Service Museum Handbook. This chapter discussed how to monitor and control the environmental agents of deterioration, which include temperature, relative humidity, light, and air pollution. It was last updated in 1999 and while a lot of the information is still pertinent, much of it was out of date, too difficult for many park staff to understand who were not trained as curators, and did not contain advice specifically focused on collections housed in historic structures. Long story short, there was quite a lot of work to be done. I spend a lot of my summer writing and doing research and consulting different conservators and curators about current best practices in preventative conservation. This type of internship was clearly not for everybody, but I did teach me a lot about museums and the NPS.

So what is it like to intern in Washington DC? In short, it’s expensive. Because there are so many interns in the city over the summer housing in the DC area is very expensive and difficult to find. I spent most of my summer living at George Washington University and several other weeks in Arlington and near Howard University and the Convention Center. Other than the week I spent at my brother’s place, I paid close to $300 a week for housing.

Worth it

Worth it

Of course DC is also a lot of fun too. The city has a lot of world class museums, which are mostly free and there is always something going on. One of my favorite things to do was visiting the Dupont Circle art galleries when they had First Friday open houses with free wine and snacks. Coming from Cooperstown, I had to go see the Washington Nationals when my favorite team, the Mets, was in town. The Nationals had a great summer and the Mets went through their normal implosion, but it was worth it in the end.

What about people who do not find paid internships? Must they starve or live on the streets? My internship paid me fairly decently, but sometimes your dream internship pays nothing. Fortunately, CGP offers the Rural-Urban partnership fund to cover students who find unpaid internships focused on public engagement and service at urban museums. It’s allowed students to find internships in Philadelphia, Boston, New York City, Chicago, and other places.

- Colin

Thesis Doesn’t Have To Be A Scary Word

Yes, coming to CGP means writing a thesis. It sound really scary, but it doesn’t necessarily have to be (lots and lots of work: yes; scary: not necessarily). First year Patrick Dickerson writes here a little about his thesis work which he was able to start a little earlier than most of us.

- Lindsey

Thesis Doesn’t Have To Be A Scary Word

Think for a minute about the words you associate with graduate school. Are you thinking, perhaps, “professional?” Maybe “academic,” or “career?” Of all those words, I can guarantee one of them is the foreboding, ever-daunting “THESIS.” Yes, like most graduate students, CGPers undertake the long task of legitimizing themselves in the field with their own original work. Usually these begin during the second year, but if a topic compels you, second semester is an option. Some of us write about history, others the trending issues of the museum world. The rest of us work on thesis projects, museum-related community endeavors that develop our skills and make an excellent centerpiece to a post-graduate résumé.

I’m lucky to be working with the Oneonta Susquehanna Greenway committee in designing their interpretive signs, part of the trail’s eight miles that will teach the Oneonta community about where they come from and where they are going. Take a little bit of history, a little biology, top it off with a theme that will educate, and we get what’s really an outdoor exhibition where each interpretive sign is part of a conceptual whole. If you want to know more, ask me at Interview Weekend.

I’m writing about it here to tell you that this is a real-life museum project. It involves community discussion, researching local history, and consulting a client (the Greenway committee) directly. Plus I get to present my own original ideas, not to mention plan and take part in the exhibition design process as the year progresses. Like I said, it’s the real deal, real CGP experience.

“How does one get a project like this?” you may ask. Up here, it’s actually pretty easy. Nonprofits and community groups ask CGP students for assistance all the time, and if a project comes up that sparks your interest, it probably means you’re the right person for the job—so go ahead and do it. Graduate school here is your best chance to get that experience, no job application necessary.

Of course, this is serious academic work. I am writing the exhibition concept, objectives, the text for each interpretive sign, and a process paper documenting research and the steps taken to make the project a success. Like all theses, it requires a defense and a research plan (and in my case, and exhibition plan) to make sure it is completed on time. Be prepared for some long hours at the library and more hours on the road; there is always a document, person, or place with that extra bit of information you need to prove your point.

Above all, pick a topic you like—you’re going to be working with it for a year. For someone who grew up hiking and camping a lot, history on a nature trail was a pretty good fit. And that was just one project. There are plenty more, spanning a whole range of interests, subjects, and organizations. Have at it and have fun! This is what graduate school is all about.

- Patrick

Hunger is the Best Sauce

You already know that we’ll be feeding you at Interview Weekend, but what you don’t know is what exactly that food will be. Here’s first year Eric Feingold to talk a little about the delicious foods you will be eating. (Hope you’re not too hungry right now because this post will make your mouth water)

- Lindsey

Hunger is the Best Sauce

Brooks chickenThere’s no such thing as a free lunch.

At Interview Weekend, that’s true—there’s two free lunches, along with three free breakfasts and three free dinners. As a member of the food committee, I’m here to give you some details about what we’ll be offering to help you stave off starvation. Okay? Okay.

First, we’ll start with Brooks’ House of Bar-B-Q.

ChickenOnce you get past the disturbing sign with the sinister chef chasing the chicken—that delicious, delicious chicken—you’ll realize that Central New York can hold its own with barbecue.* This year’s menu will feature chicken halves from the Oneonta restaurant, which has been owned and operated by the Brooks family since 1951.

But, for all of the non-carnivores out there, don’t worry! In addition to being dynamic forces in the museum world, CGP faculty and students will be providing a variety of delicious vegetarian dishes; also, the rest of the faculty and some students will be providing additional salads and sides.

In Mesopotamian mythology, the gods lived in the Cedar Forest. The cedar tree, Lebanon's national symbol, is featured on the country's flag.

In Mesopotamian mythology, the gods lived in the Cedar Forest. The cedar tree, Lebanon’s national symbol, is featured on the country’s flag.

From Oneonta, we go to Yorkville, a town just outside of Utica, for one of the hallmark meals of Interview Weekend—Karam’s Bakery and Restaurant. This family-run restaurant features staples of Lebanese cuisine.

At Interview Weekend, you’ll be able to try falafel (ground chickpeas), tabbouleh (grain salad with parsley, onion, and tomato and seasoned with garlic, lemon, and olive oil), meat and spinach pies, pita, and more.

Tabbouleh with a stack of pita.

Tabbouleh with a stack of pita.

This year’s Levantine lunch falls on a Friday during Lent, so if you’re hoping to stick to a Lenten diet, Karam’s will be a great—and filling—way to do so!

What's your region's culinary specialty?

What’s your region’s culinary specialty?

After a day full of interviews and tours of Cooperstown, you’ll surely have worked up a serious appetite. Dinner will feature one of the great CGP traditions—a potluck! Current students come from many parts of the country—California, South Carolina, New Mexico, California, New York, and Minnesota, to name just a few states—and will be making some of their favorite foods from home.

Sugaring Off, Grandma Moses, 1945

Sugaring Off, Grandma Moses, 1945

Sunday’s breakfast will be sweet for two reasons: you’ll be finished with interviews and will be able to sample New York State maple syrup at The Farmers’ Museum. Every Sunday in March, the Farm hosts its annual “Sugaring Off Sundays.” This event, which shares its name with a painting by New York artist Grandma Moses, celebrates the rich tradition of maple sugaring in the Empire State.

Barbecue, Lebanese, regional potluck, local maple syrup, and more—Interview Weekend 2013 promises to be filled with plenty of options to satisfy any appetite! Personally, the food was one of my highlights from Interview Weekend and on behalf of this year’s Interview Weekend Committees, we hope it will be one of yours, too!

- Eric

*Apologies to my classmate and resident Southerner, Emily.

Show Me The Money

Grad school is expensive. Even CGP, where tuition is remarkably affordable, costs a good sized chunk of change. Luckily, there are several options in Cooperstown for making a little supplementary cash. First year Michelle Paulus writes below about a few of your job options in Cooperstown.

- Lindsey

Show Me The Money

This title may get everyone’s hopes up about a fun filled post on financial aid, but alas, no. However, we are still talking about making money (yay!) via employment opportunities in Cooperstown. This is riveting information, I know, but knowing that there was the opportunity to earn a little money to buy real food peaked my interests when I was at Interview Weekend. (While I have no quarrel with ramen and potatoes, they get old fast- oh and just to clarify I don’t eat them together, that would be a bit odd)

Jillian Reese makes some delicious coffee at Stagecoach!

Jillian Reese makes some delicious coffee at Stagecoach!

In all seriousness, there are plenty of job opportunities in the area for a wide range of interests and backgrounds. Some students in the class of 2014 work at the following places: Stagecoach Coffee, Otsego 2000, Clark Sports Center, The Fenimore Art Museum, The Farmers Museum, Little Bo’tique, Savor New York, and L.M. Townsend Catering. You can google these places to find out a little more about them. Additionally many professors and community members turn to the program when searching for house sitters, child sitters, and pet care.

There are many opportunities for employment and the faculty is great at helping students find jobs. In addition, each student is offered the opportunity to apply for a paid assistantship through the school. On the flip side some students choose not to get jobs while in Cooperstown and that is totally fine too. It is whatever you personally are comfortable with.

- Michelle

CGP Community Stories

Here’s second year Haley Gard to talk a little about her favorite oral history project.

- Lindsey

CGP Community Stories

CGPCSlogo4Do you want to learn more about the unique opportunities the Cooperstown Graduate Program has to offer?

CGP Community Stories presents the diverse narratives of the residents of Otsego County, New York. The project allows students from the Cooperstown Graduate Program to contribute to 50 year old archive of oral histories by conducting their own interviews as part of first year coursework and honing their historical researching skills. By interviewing local residents, students have the opportunity to interact with community members, gathering stories that touch on themes of family, trends, travel, work, school, wartime and recreation. It also provides a recorded history that serves to inform current environmental and sustainability issues in Central New York, providing resources for student and faculty facilitated public programs that create community dialogue. Producing online material like podcasts and a Tumblr allows the public at large to interact with student collected history through recorded and photographic resources.

Jillian Reese, Class of 2014, speaks with a local resident at a recent CGP Community Stories program that discussed water resources

Jillian Reese, Class of 2014, speaks with a local resident at a recent CGP Community Stories program that discussed water resources

This is just one of the ways the CGP students connect with the broader Cooperstown community while gaining resume building skills they can take into their careers.

Interested in what we do?
Find us online at www.cgpcommunitystories.org or on Tumblr at http://newyorkfarmstories.tumblr.com/

- Haley