Megan Armknecht GS, HIS

Summer Intern, Bureau of Bureau of Public Affairs/ Office of the Historian in Washington D.C

Megan is a History Ph.D. Student and was a 2019 Summer Intern in the Bureau of Bureau of Public Affairs/ Office of the Historian in Washington D.C.

I am still in the middle of my PhD program, so in the immediate future, this experience helped me form meaningful working relationships with other historians, and has been helpful in framing my prospectus for my dissertation. I am still exploring both academic and non-academic career tracks, and this internship experience was helpful in seeing what possibilities there were for a career outside of academia. 

I had heard about State Department internships from some friends and since my research deals with U.S. diplomatic history, I decided to apply for an internship with the Office of the Historian to learn more about their work and build a network of professionals who may be helpful in my research as well.

I worked specifically with three historians at the Office of the Historian and they were all incredibly helpful while I was there. They valued my input, they encouraged me to attend lectures in Foggy Bottom about diplomacy, and they provided resources and contacts for me in order to expand my professional network outside of the academy. Also, since most of the historians at the State Department have PhDs, they also know a lot of academics who have different specialties than historians at Princeton, and they have introduced me to them, which means I have more people to talk to about my project. 

My days depended on the variety of projects I was supporting. Most days, however, I was looking through State Department legal and institutional documents to track changes in how the State Department was run in the 20th century.  I worked on three projects--an institutional history of the Bureau of African Affairs; an exploratory project on the history of declassification projects (in which I read a lot of press releases about declassification projects); and sorting through legal documents about the first class-action lawsuits against the State Department for sex and race discrimination. 

I learned a lot about the institutional changes of the State Department, both by looking through documents and also through interviewing many of my colleagues. This was really helpful for me, since my research deals with the professionalization of the State Department in the late 19th and early 20th centuries, and it was useful for me to better understand the contemporary State Department in order to see what has changed over time. 

Another impactful experience for me was being introduced to the director of the National Security Archive (located at George Washington University) and being able to talk with him about his experiences with declassification projects. 

I am still in the middle of my PhD program, so in the immediate future, this experience helped me form meaningful working relationships with other historians, and has been helpful in framing my prospectus for my dissertation. I am still exploring both academic and non-academic career tracks, and this internship experience was helpful in seeing what possibilities there were for a career outside of academia. 

Thank you for this experience!


 

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