My junior year of college was filled with lots of late nights, tears, delirious laughter, and deadlines never quite attainable. Defeat seemed inevitable at times but somehow my classmates and I always made it through. Before I knew it, the year was ending and I still had no summer plans. Meanwhile, my peers were leaving for internships thousands of miles away and I felt a little behind. I decided to make use of the first few weeks of my summer and take a furniture design studio, something I had been wanting to do since I got into the program. There, I met Eythan Carter, who you might know if you have read previous blog posts. Eythan had been an intern at the Cook Museum the summer prior. He and I became friends over the four weeks we were classmates and when he found out about my passion for exhibit design, he told me about the Cook Museum of Natural Science and the wonderful experience he had as an intern there. The museum, located in Decatur, is only a short 35-minute drive from my home town, Huntsville, Alabama. It couldn’t have been a more perfect fit.
After submitting my application, a thorough interview process, and a reference and portfolio review, I was chosen for the internship with John Kelton, the Director of Exhibits and Visitors Experience for the Cook Museum. I still can’t believe I landed this incredible opportunity!
Unfortunately, I was only able to spend seven short weeks working for the museum, but I have learned more than I could possibly imagine thanks to John and his daily lessons on life. The team and the Cook family at the Cook Museum really are a special group of people who care about the well being of each individual. This experience has really opened my eyes to how important teamwork really is. Just like a forest biome, every microscopic organism plays an important role to support the ecosystem.
I understood my place in the office as an intern, but contrary to what you would expect, I was not a coffee runner, well only for myself to support my Starbucks addiction, or a dry-cleaning delivery service. I was there to aid the design process. Whether it was concept generation, prototyping, or even copying laminate sample boards to present to the team, I was able to truly help. I was an important member of the ecosystem and my opinion was valued. Everything I was involved in not only contributed to my education and helped me further develop my own understanding of the museum world, but was also crucial to the advancement of the museum.
So, thank you for teaching me that it wasn’t about designing for a museum, it was about designing for people. It was about designing to educate everyone, from young to old, about what this world has to offer and the importance of taking care of the earth and its precious creatures.
Because, life is amazing!
Written by: Renee Melkerson
Senior, Auburn University