Auburn Family

Jule Collins Smith Museum Offers Real-World Experience for Students

As Auburn students begin their job searches at the end of their years as undergraduate students, the task can be daunting. It seems that all employment opportunities require months or years of experience but also claim to be “entry-level.”

It is a frustrating reality, however, Auburn University students have endless resources to get internships and gain experience while still taking classes.

One of these opportunities is working with the Jule Collins Smith museum.

Virginia Comer, an Auburn graduate with a degree in Anthropology, gained practical experience that gave her a leg-up when applying for jobs.

During her internship, Comer was a development intern and “assisted the development team with record upkeep and entry, as well as planning events to recruit more student members.”

Comer was proactive in seeking out the internship and said, “I reached out to museum staff via email to explain my interest in museum development and see if there were any internship opportunities. I then met with the Director of Development and created a plan and schedule, since they had not had a development intern before.”

Gaining real-world experience, Comer’s main task during her internship was “programming focused on increasing student membership numbers. We were able to collect information from over 300 students who were interested in becoming members through this and other promotions. I then assisted with the entry of this data using the museum’s donor and membership database.”

Today she works in the development department of a botanical garden and museum of art and said, “I was able to deepen my understanding of museum administration, specifically development, which has helped with the transition into my current position.”

Internships like this one, with a business directly related to the University, can allow students to balance school work with real-world work experience to make them the most marketable they can be when they graduate. According to Comer, “the Jule Collins Smith Museum of Fine Arts is an official part of Auburn University, made possible by the generous support of an alumni. The mission of the museum is to serve not only Auburn University students and employees but also the greater Auburn-Opelika community as a renowned art and cultural center.”

Through institutions like the museum, Auburn students become increasingly competitive candidates for jobs because of the practical skills and experience students get. When asked if she would recommend other Auburn students taking advantage of opportunities like this, she said, “Absolutely. I know that the staff I worked with was very interested in continuing to involve Auburn students. Although interning while taking a full load of classes can be challenging, it is very convenient and allows students to gain more experience before graduating.” 

Photo: Wikimedia Commons


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