Okay, I'll admit that the Hoole Special Collections Library was no mystic temple, but it was a part of campus I'd never seen before, and it was a rich trove of biographies and historical materials. And the shelves moved. You could probably consider them a booby trap.
I suppose I never actually faced any real dangers during my adventures. Sure, there was a risk of paper cuts as I pored through book after book, and I could have strained my eyes after staring at online databases for too long. Those dangers are hardly a pit of snakes, though.
But here's the thing: Indiana Jones doesn't go on adventures for the fame and glory; he does it to uncover the mysteries of the past, and that is exactly what I was doing.
I didn't have to face any villains throughout my internship--unless you count typos and incorrect information. I spent a lot of time fact-checking articles, digging through a huge pile of historical sources to confirm all the facts that the articles presented. While this could get stressful, I really enjoyed reading the fruits of the writer's research. No matter how boring a topic might have seemed at the beginning, it always turned out to be fascinating by the end. The research itself was most satisfying when it was difficult.
Proofreading was one of my favorite tasks; I slashed through typos and incorrect style with glee. It was as if the errors were skulking around in the articles and trying to hide, but they were no match for my eagle eye. They say the pen is mightier than the sword, and I think that means my red pen was about on par with Indy's famous whip.
Nobody can tell me I wasn't on a quest when I was on the hunt for a certain photo or piece of information. Some of the things I needed to find were just a Google search away, but other things were more elusive. I've skimmed through books, paged through databases, and conferred with multiple librarians to find what I needed. There was never a moment more satisfying than when I finally found something I was looking for, be it a fact, a photo, or even a typo.
One of my other favorite jobs was to write tweets about the people who appeared in the Encyclopedia of Alabama. I got to pick out the best parts of each article to mention in the tweet, and then I categorized the tweets by giving them hashtags. I called it "hashtagging history." Unfortunately, I'm not sure how to fit social media into my Indiana Jones metaphor.
Although Indiana Jones was awesome, he never would've gotten anywhere without the help of his friends and partners. Similarly, I would be nothing but a confused person sitting at a desk without the help of the wonderful staff of Alabama Heritage. Everyone was always so friendly and quick to help me out. It was always fun to gather in the kitchen with everyone for cake or doughnuts. I have to give a special shoutout to Susan Reynolds, the associate editor and my boss. She was always very patient with me and explained things so well. I learned a lot from her and I am truly grateful.
Interning with Alabama Heritage was an adventure I'll never forget. I learned so much about working at a magazine, and now I've added historical publications to my list of career ideas. So to Susan Reynolds and all the rest of the amazing staff of Alabama Heritage, thank you. I can't begin to describe how much this experience means to me.
Now cue the theme song … it's time to ride off into the sunset.
Rebecca Mast is a senior at the University of Alabama. She is an English major, minoring in creative writing and French. When she’s not searching through fascinating historical records, she enjoys reading, drawing, and playing clarinet with the Million Dollar Band.