An Intern’s Journey; Chapter 11: The Backbone

Hopefully you all enjoyed learning a bit about what it’s like to do an internship at home last week! This week I want to take some time to talk about the backbone of many smaller museums and historic sites, volunteers! Volunteers are often critical members of these sites and sometimes the general public doesn’t even realize it!

At Banting House National Historic Site our volunteers are very involved in our daily operations such as:

  • Tours; our tour guides are volunteers! We are incredibly thankful that our amazing volunteers can offer tours in other languages to make tours more accessible to the community!
  • Gift Shop: our gift shop is run by volunteers and our gift shop is another avenue that helps fund many of our operations and projects
  • Research and writing: many of our volunteers are actually undergraduate and graduate students (both at Western and at other universities) and help us with various research projects, articles and our blog!
  • and there are so many more things our volunteers help with!

For many local museums, they rely on volunteers to help keep up with the site. My internship here was technically volunteer work and I wanted to speak a little bit about it in hopes it might inspire some of you to volunteer, if and when you can, at your local museum or historic site!

During my internship, I have been some of the stuff that I listed above! Much of my day to day tasks include researching, event planning, writing, and social media managing! I’ve actually also be storing all my work and creating manuals and guides that will hopefully help future volunteers be able to navigate some of these tasks a little better! Pandemic pending, I still hope at some point to have the chance to work on programming and provide tours as well! I will be continuing to volunteer at Banting House NHS after my internship as I found its been really helpful for me as someone who lives with type 1 diabetes! Volunteering at the birthplace of insulin has helped me understand type 1 a lot better and also help motivate and inspire me to continue to manage and take care of it!

Benefits of volunteering

For the Museum and Historic Site:

  • Help run daily and seasonal programming
  • Help with collections management, archiving and various research project
  • Help with upkeep and maintenance of the site
  • Help with running the digital foot print (i.e. website maintenance, social media etc.)
  • Help with special events like World Diabetes Day and Banting and Friends
  • Assist with writing for articles and our blog

For the Volunteer:

  • Gives you real world work experience
  • You can experience what its like to work in the heritage/history/museum field
  • You can develop contacts/network that could benefit you down the road (you can get great references from volunteering!)
  • Helps you connect with the community
  • Develop various skills that can be applicable to many different field
  • Can help you develop a portfolio/help your CV (i.e. writing blog posts leaves a digital trace of the work you’re able to do!)
  • Looks really good on grad school applications and resumes!
  • It makes you feel good!

I feel like the last point on the benefits for the volunteers is often overlooked. It’s okay to volunteer if it makes you feel good! It is definitely not selfish, I think that’s the beauty of volunteering, you help out a museum or historic site and you get to feel good about it! I encourage anyone, especially those in high school, undergrad or in grad school to volunteer! Its a nice break from constant homework and classes and you get to help out in the community!

Want to volunteer at Banting House NHS? Check out our volunteering page here!

This week’s takeaways:

  • So many organizations, institutions and museums/heritage sites rely on volunteers and the community’s support in order to do many of their daily operations
  • Volunteering benefits both the organization and the volunteer!
  • Volunteers are some of the most dedicated and hardworking people, so make sure to always thank volunteers!

Next week, we will have guest writers for our blog! Earlier this year, my classmates and I wrote some blog posts about various topics relating to Dr. Banting and Banting House NHS. As a continuation of our Banting in London timeline, we will be sharing Jared Schutt and Daniel Farrow’s blog post all about Banting’s time here! Make sure to follow our WordPress so you don’t miss out!

This post was written by Kat MacDonald, an intern at Banting House NHSC. Kat is currently completing her M.A. in Public History at Western University.

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