Category: Professional Preparation

Previously On…

So much has happened in just the past year! During the Spring 2015 term I was lucky enough to study abroad for the whole semester as a part of the Oxford University Centre for Medieval and Renaissance Studies program run by Middlebury College. I cannot hype this program enough, it was the most challenging yet rewarding semester of my life. I feel so fortunate to have had this opportunity. Oxford is an amazing place, and I was able to travel a little bit in England and had a foray into Scotland when I wasn’t writing and researching my little heart out. I made some great lifelong friends and learned so much about not only medieval/Renaissance history, but about living abroad, a new culture (which is more different from America that you would think), and what it means to be a citizen of the world.


View of Oxford from the top of Carfax Tower

I have also been lucky as to have completed an internship at the Gerald R. Ford Presidential Museum, located in my hometown Grand Rapids, Michigan (I live in a tiny town just outside of the city, but I mostly tell everyone I’m from G-Rap, as barely anyone calls it.) I worked with First Lady Betty Ford’s personal wardrobe quite a bit, using my experience as a seamstress at the Elmhurst College Mill Theatre to identify different aspects of her clothing to record in the catalog. It is one of the best places I have ever worked at and the knowledge I gained from working there is irreplaceable.

My favorite place to hang out this summer. Located in downtown Grand Rapids, MI.

I am beginning an internship this semester at the Pritzker Military Museum and Library in downtown Chicago, only a 15-20 minute walk from Ogilvie Transportation Center. It’s actually kitty-corner from the Art Institute! I am elated to have this opportunity to learn and have experience my future field (I plan to be a special collections/rare books librarian when I “grow up”).

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Kristen Gravelin: The (Stylish) Rare Books Intern

As this is my third internship, I will impart a little advice: Always take initiative in applying and researching what institutions offer internships. The staff at the Center For Professional Excellence in Circle Hall will be more than willing to offer invaluable advice and guidance, but it’s ultimately up to you to apply and gain the experience you need to be successful. Enthusiasm and persistence go a long way in this process. My previous internships have been highly rewarding and educational experiences, and I know will be instrumental one day when I am searching for employment. And when you are working at an internship, make conversation with your supervisor, get to know them and let your personality shine. While hard work is important, making a good impression and creating professional connections is equally, if not more, important. Especially for finding future internships and entering the professional world as a college graduate. All of my supervisors have been great people who have imparted invaluable advice that I continue to apply to my professional preparation. So while the idea of starting to wade out into the waters of the professional world might be scary, just remember that there are some skills that cannot be learned in a classroom.

Me in my natural habitat.

Library Life

To be entirely honest, about half the reason I picked Elmhurst is because of how close it is to Chicago, one of my favorite cities ever. And I have definitely taken advantage of that proximity.


I took the Honors section of The Great Libraries of Chicago in J-Term and it has led to one of the best experiences of my life, my internship. Our last assignment was to go to a library on our own and make a presentation to the class, and I went to the German cultural center, the D.A.N.K Haus and their library, the Koegel Bibliothek. I walked in the door and my now supervisor asked me if I was interested in an internship. At first I laughed, but then I walked into the library. As corny as it sounds, instantly I knew it was one of the most beautiful places I had ever stepped foot in. I don’t think I can really describe how much I love that library.


Not long after visiting, I knew I wanted to go back. I emailed my now-supervisor and, with the help of the NiebuhrCenter and the head of the English department, Dr. Ann Frank Wake, I soon found myself back at the D.A.N.K Haus, taking the internship as a half credit. My job there is mainly to catalog and sort the books into boxes to be moved into the new room so they can use the space the library is currently in to make another exhibit. I see so many interesting books and, with my limited German comprehension, I can understand some of what the books are about (and the photos and illustrations help too).

So every Tuesday and Thursday I am off-campus and I really couldn’t be happier. 

Me in my natural habitat.

Me in my natural habitat.

Some of my handiwork. (I did this all in one day.)

Some of my handiwork. (I did this all in one day.)The German Classics section.

The German Classics section.