Knox alumna Mrinalini Chakraborty '12, national field coordinator for the Women’s March, was recently intervi...
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Galesburg, IL 61401-4999
Major in Anthropology & Sociology, Minor in Creative Writing
What's the most important thing you've learned at Knox outside the classroom?
I was able to intern at the Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library and Museum (ALPLM) in Springfield, Illinois with the help of my Mellon Fellowship. One of the cool things I was able to do during my internship was to combine my involvements at Knox with what I was doing at the Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library and Museum. My KAMP (Knox Alumni Mentoring Program) mentor works at the Illinois State Museum in Springfield a few blocks from ALPLM. I met with her over the summer, and was even able to arrange a tour of the Illinois State Museum's collections for myself and the other interns in my department with her help. Being able to practice utilizing my network before I graduate wasn't something I initially would have thought I would be doing under the Mellon Fellowship, but I would highly recommend it to future participants.
What did you do for your internship?
My day to day would consist of figuring out which part of the museum we should clean before it was opened to the public. That usually meant vacuuming a set of display figures (I got to vacuum several Abraham Lincolns) or using wet rags to polish off the glass cases. After all the cleaning was done, the other interns and I would either work on accessioning objects (giving them an accession number, writing out a description of the object, photographing them, and making a condition report) or work on entering loans from other institutions to ALPLM. One of the larger loans I worked on was from DreamWorks. They had loaned the museum clothes, furniture, and other objects from the set of the movie Lincoln that amounted to several exhibits worth. ALPLM had renewed the loan several times, so my job was to make sure that the objects we had in our system matched up with what DreamWorks said we still had. It was interesting to try and correspond DreamWorks' method of cataloging with our own system, and then trying to match the two descriptions to an object.
How you think it will influence your future plans?
This internship has been crucial because it gave me room to experiment within my interest of museum studies. Since Knox doesn't have a museum studies minor, I had been trying to learn about museum work on my own and by volunteering in my community. Interning at a larger institution like ALPLM allowed me to immerse myself in what a museum career would really look like. Thanks to my experience and the Mellon Fellowship, I was able to realize that I would like to do research within anthropology and sociology rather than museum work.
What surprised you about Knox?
How easy it was to get assistance from programs on campus, as well as connect with Alumni. I would recommend anyone that's interested in applying to TRIO, KAMP (Knox Alumni Mentoring Program), or the Alumni Ambassadors to do so.
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