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Student Spotlight

Elena Popchock discusses her internship and study abroad experiences

by Elena Popchock, '13


For ten weeks during the summer of 2011, I interned at the Rockefeller Archive Center in Tarrytown, New York.  As an intern, I was introduced to the many rewards and challenges in the archival profession. At the archive center, I organized and preserved a Rockefeller Foundation collection to make it accessible to researchers.  Essentially, I was given large boxes stuffed with donated papers and books, and I had to bring organization into the situation.  Once I organized these documents and books, I placed them in archival folders and boxes to preserve them.  Then, I had to create a narrative finding aid so researchers would understand my organization and know how to use the resources.  During my time at the RAC, I also retrieved archival materials from the vaults and collaborated with a mentor on research requests and inquiries.

This was a unique internship experience, for I was given a lot of responsibility and was treated as an actual employee.  We took multiple field trips, participated in roundtable discussions, and listened to guest lecturers.  Through the experience, I gained valuable contacts that will certainly help me in future job and internship searches. I decided not to do the internship for credit because I did not need the credit and this was already a full-time commitment with a lot of responsibility.  I have saved internships for the summertime, rather than during the academic year, because a lot of internship programs offered at museums and archives are only offered during the summer.

Elena at the Rockefeller Archive Center

During the fall of 2011, I lived in Athens, Greece and studied history in the shadow of the Acropolis.  Immersed in such a historically rich culture, I gained a new appreciation for ancient history as well as Greek culture.  In the first few weeks after arriving in Athens, I visited numerous historic sites across Greece, including Ancient Olympia, Delphi, Mycenae, and Corinth.  While exploring these rich archaeological and historic sites, I felt transported back in time.  During my stay in Athens, I studied the Greek language and conversed with the locals.  I also witnessed firsthand the turmoil of a nation struggling to keep its head above water.  Not only was I experiencing ancient history, but I was seeing history being made.

Elena at the Acropolois of Athens

Over the course of three months, I took advantage of the opportunity to travel.  I visited two Greek islands, including Santorini, and traveled to Rome, Paris, London and Liverpool, England.  With all of these travels and experiences, studying abroad enabled me to intimately experience history, challenged me to adapt to new situations, strengthened my appreciation of foreign cultures, and improved my global and personal awareness.  Living in Greece and traveling across Europe was such a magical experience—one that I will never forget.