Emma Dill

Intern at the Minnesota Historical Society

Major: Journalism and Political Science
Graduation year: 2020

Emma Dill


Interview by Elizabeth Brunette

With which organization did you intern?

The Minnesota Historical Society

Where is it located?

Minnesota History Center in St. Paul, MN

How did you find out about the internship? 

I found out about internship opportunities at the Minnesota Historical Society when I visited their booth at the fall Internship and Career Fair last year. I knew I wasn’t quite ready for an internship at that point, but I kept the opportunity in mind. This summer I went to the Society’s website to see if they still had positions that interested me and fit with my major and career goals.

What were your responsibilities?

I write articles for MNopedia, a digital encyclopedia of Minnesota history. I also fact check other MNopedia articles.

What did you most enjoy? 

I really like that I can learn about such a wide range of topics. For example, I wrote an article about A Prairie Home Companion. It was fascinating to learn about its history. I have learned about Dorothy Molter, the last resident of the Boundary Waters, Ecolab, the Walker Art Center and many other Minnesota icons.

I also enjoy the challenge of condensing my writing. When I write an article for MNopedia, it can be no longer than 700 words. This is a difficult feat for topics like the Walker Art Center, for example, that have over 100 years of history. I continually have to consider what should stay in an article and what can be left out. I really enjoy thinking through these edits and deciding what readers need to know.

What is something that you learned from your internship experience?

My internship allowed me to develop a standard research process. Because I write and fact check articles regularly, I have learned a structured way to approach a topic, find reliable sources and develop the content of an article. By repeating the research process, I have developed a routine and have learned what works and what doesn’t when I’m researching. Fact-checking has also given me a new perspective on my own writing by allowing me to understand how others put together information and research to form an article.

How will your internship help you in your future studies/career? 

In the future, the research, writing and editing skills I have gained from my internship will definitely help me as a journalist. Much of my future coursework will also involve writing and editing so my internship will hopefully give me an advantage in my studies too.

What's one piece of advice you would give other students about securing an exciting internship? 

I suggest that students remain open-minded about the types of internships they apply for. For example, even though I am not a history or museums studies major, I applied for an internship at the Historical Society. My major didn’t exactly fit what they were looking for, but I gave it a shot, and it turned out great!

If you get an internship but feel you’re not getting what you want from it, make sure to communicate with your supervisor. My supervisor and coworkers really want to make my internship a great experience tailored to my interests. Organizations want their interns to get a lot out of the program so don’t be afraid to speak up.