I am a U2 student from Mississauga and am doing a double major in Political Science and English Literature at McGill. I am most interested in international politics, urbanization and history, and I am a voracious reader. Currently, I work as a news editor for the McGill Tribune and I hope to pursue my studies in journalism in graduate school.
I wanted to do this internship because of my love for the city of Montreal and the thrill of doing archival and historical research. I also wanted to further my writing and translation skills. Furthermore, I was enticed by the idea of working in a Museum with first-hand artefacts and documents, although due to the pandemic this did not materialize.
My host organization is the Centre d’histoire de Montréal - MEM. Among its many initiatives to document and exhibit Montreal’s history is the Museum’s mission to create a book presenting the city’s diverse local and personal histories. My role as an intern was to contribute and support this ambitious project.
During my internship, my main responsibilities were to support the work of the historians and offer input on the book project. This included reading lengthy historical documents and summarizing the most important and interesting points. One main highlight of this work was to learn about the history and importance of university students in Montreal, most notably in the years encompassing World War One and World War Two. I found interesting parallels between how students were directly impacted by such world events and how our own student experience has been affected by the COVID-19 pandemic. Another interesting highlight was learning about how student institutions at McGill and the University of Montreal came about and expanded over the years and how students’ push for greater equality among themselves dates back to at least the early 20th century.
My internship has been very rewarding on a personal level, and potentially on educational and professional levels as well. My work as an intern sifting through history books and historical documents has reignited my love for history and has allowed me to experience the work of the historian first-hand. Such work has given me a new perspective on what “history” is: not a stale and perfectly objective enumeration of facts and dates, but rather a messy, imperfect reconstruction of events and experiences established by often biased and partial sources. I find this kind of historical ‘digging’ and ‘puzzle-reconstructing’ work fascinating, and I can definitely picture myself transplanting such skills into the investigative journalism work that I currently do with the McGill Tribune, and later on if I pursue a career as a journalist.
Working on a remote internship was not easy and far from ideal. Given how my responsibilities as an intern should have included historical and archival research, the fact that I did not have access to the Museum’s trove of archival documents hindered that responsibility. The pandemic also considerably delayed some aspects of the book project, which made me unable to work on the translation dimension of my internship. Nevertheless, I was able to adapt to my remote internship by using all the reliable online resources (the Museum’s online archives, Google Scholar, Érudit, etc.) that were available to me. I also often participated in Zoom calls with my internship director and the Museum’s historians as a way to create and maintain personal (albeit virtual) bonds with the rest of the team.
I am not receiving credit for the internship. I received funding for the internship, which helped to pay for my rent and food for the summer.