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David Grabitske

David Grabitske is the manager of outreach services at the Minnesota Historical Society in St. Paul, Minnesota.

Winona County historical Society wants to know if anyone in the field has any suggestions for attracting college-age students to their local museum. We have had some success working through the local universities attracting interns and lecturing professors. There has to be some good ideas out there we aren’t thinking of.

Mark Peterson

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2 Responses to Attracting College Students

  1. Cedar Phillips says:

    I think working with local schools is a good one; I’d also suggest adding an internship listing to your website, if it’s not already there.

    When I was in college (about 10 years ago) From personal experience, I can attest that your approach to internships or volunteer opportunities is essential. As a student I had limited time and money; while willing to “pay my dues” making copies or sitting at the information desk I also wanted to have the opportunity to see how a museum worked behind the scenes. I was, after all, evaluating the field to see if would be a good fit, career-wise. It didn’t matter to me if I was officially called an intern or a volunteer, but at some museums only interns – official, for-credit interns – received the kind of professional experience I was seeking. I didn’t need and couldn’t afford the credits (especially on top of giving up potential hours that could have been allocated to a paying job) and had to pass up those opportunties. Ultimately I found a good fit for me, but I do want to mention this experience with the hopes that museums with such restrictive policies consider some of the ramifications – decreased access to internship opportunties to students of limited means – or, alternatively, consider providing a stipend to help offset the student’s costs.

    I used to work at a historic house museum that offered housing for interns. Our administrative building was in a former home, and we had a couple of bedrooms (as well as a bathroom with a shower) that we set aside for that purpose (we offered it to guest lecturers and the like during the school year). If you offered a summer internship with housing you’d be able to potentially draw from a regional or even national pool of applicants who might be attracted to the idea of spending the summer in a new setting, even if the internship itself wasn’t paid. In that case you could drum up interest through Museum-L and other listservs.


  2. In the past and once again Minnesota Aviation History and Education Center – MAHEC – has given consideration to attracting volunteer’s from the younger set. Jr. High or Senior High youth have so much more in computer knowledge they could be very helpfull in so many ways. Web site input, email distribution of newsletters, meeting notification, and inventory of items currently in our inventory and new contributions in the future. In addition those with art talents can assist with design of display’s etc.


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