ALUMNI SPOTLIGHT: Alaina Noland, Battleship New Jersey

Did you know? The Battleship New Jersey, docked on the Camden waterfront, is the most decorated battleship in Naval History. Doubling as a Museum and a Memorial, the Battleship offers daily walking-tours. If you visit the ship, make sure to keep an eye out for Alaina Noland, a Rutgers-Camden graduate and the Collections Manager at the Battleship.

ALL ABOARD!

The Graduate History Program here at Rutgers-Camden, professors and students alike, are always eager to hear how our alumni are getting on in the post-graduate world. When I heard of Ms. Noland’s success, I could hardly keep myself from asking hundreds of questions. To my excitement, Ms. Noland was more than happy to talk about her position at the Battleship with me, answering my queries with comforting backstory, positivity, and some solid advice for current students whose graduation dates are quickly approaching. 

Question: Firstly, I’d love to hear a little more about your position at the Battleship. How did you come across the position, and what kind of work are you currently engaging in? 

Answer: As Collections Manager, I am primarily in charge of the care/exhibition/use our objects collection and libraries. However, we are a fairly small museum so everyone here wears many hats. We also have a completely integrated Education and Curatorial Department, so I also help with education programs, events, and I still get tagged for tour guide duty when they need someone. The big projects on my plate right now are: cataloging our lending library so we can open it to the public this spring, helping design/build a museum exhibit that will be opening June 1st, writing a Collections Management Policy, and writing a tour/program examining the experiences of minorities in the Navy. 

Q: How did you come across the position, exactly? 

A: I feel like I have to give a little bit of backstory here. I had no background in Navy/military history and I knew nothing about ships at all when I graduated from Rutgers. After a fairly fruitless job search in the Philadelphia area failed to turn up a job, I expanded my search area and applied for an educator position at Historic Ships in Baltimore. I got that job and commuted back and forth for almost four months…it was a long few months! But during that time our site manager in Baltimore moved to Philadelphia to take over as curator on BB-62. He reached out last spring when the museum was hiring tour guides, and that is how I got my foot in the door here. From there I worked my way up to Archivist and then Collections Manager. 

Q: Do you feel as though your studies at Rutgers-Camden benefitted you, during both your job search and the handling of your current job duties?

A: I absolutely adore my job on the Battleship, and I 100% credit my getting it to the skills I learned at Rutgers-Camden. The importance of networking, building industry contacts, and having a varied work experience are all fundamentals that I learned in the graduate program and they have served me well out in the “real world”. 

Q: So many of the students here, including me, look at your story and see quite the post-graduate success. We can only hope to find a position that we love as you love the work you are doing at the Battleship! That being said, what kind of advice do you have for those of us graduating soon and entering the history-focused job world?

A: As far as advice for graduates, try not to get disheartened if you do not find a job right away. I still have two part-time museum jobs almost two years after graduation (I’m also the lead educator at Independence Seaport Museum). Try looking for positions outside of your comfort zone. I did not think I would enjoy archival/curatorial work, but I cannot imagine not doing it now. And make yourself indispensable once you find a position. Always step up when someone asks for help with a project/event/etc. Not only does it make a positive impression but you will absolutely learn something from the experience. Ask questions! You won’t look ignorant, you’ll look interested and that counts for a whole lot. 

Alaina’s advice offers me a lot of comfort – to hear of the evolution of her positions, how she had to push herself outside of her comfort zone, and how the results bring her happiness and inspire passion is such a positive story, especially with graduation looming ever nearer. And although I haven’t personally stepped onto the deck of the Battleship, Alaina’s passion for her work and her excitement about the Battleship is contagious – would anyone like to take a tour with me?

 

1918 Christmas at MARCH, Led By Grad Students

The Mid-Atlantic Regional Center for the Humanities, also known as MARCH, is housed in a 19th century historic row-home. This year marks the third year of the center’s residency in the Cooper Street home, and the third year of holiday decorating. This December, Dr. Charlene Mires handed over leadership of the decorating project to Public History graduate student William Krakower, who volunteered vivaciously for the position of lead-decorator.

 William, along with fellow graduate students and other folks who assisted, sent the MARCH home back in time to 1918, the theme of the decorations being “1918: Christmas at Peace,” in honor of the conclusion of World War I. “The plan was for the house to feature traditional 1918 Christmas decorations, and other accoutrements referencing the return of the American Expeditionary Force, the Children’s Year Campaign, and the beginning of the Influenza Epidemic in the US,” Will shared with his team. “Coincidentally, these tie in very well with the University’s theme for their decorating contest: ‘Home for the Holidays.'” 

The fully decorated MARCH house made it to the final round of judging for the University’s contest, falling in with two other finalists.Chancellor Haddon visited the house today for another look at the 1918 theme; the results of the contest will be announced on Friday, December 14, at the Chancellor’s holiday party in the Campus Center, from 2:30-5:30pm. Our fingers are crossed for the MARCH house – awesome job putting this together, William! We are always so proud of the various activities our graduate students are involved in. 

Student Spotlight: Amy Osterhout

Graduate student Amy Osterhout has only been working with the Old Baldy Civil War Roundtable for a few months, but already her involvement with the organization has proven beneficial. Osterhout manages the group’s social media presence, namely their Facebook page, and uses snippets from the Old Baldy monthly newsletter, promotes the group’s monthly meetings, and posts ritually throughout the day, making sure that those that follow the page stay up-to-date and informed on the latest Old Baldy news. 

Since starting with the group in late August, Amy has helped to increase the number of “likes” on the Facebook page from 915 to roughly 970. She hopes that the group can reach her personal goal of 1,000 likes soon – with her help and dedication, surely itwill happen! Provide Amy with an extra boost by visiting the Old Baldy Facebook page, and stay up-to-date with all things Civil War. 

Keep up the great work, Amy! 

 

Swan Foundation Scholarship Recipient: Congrats!

The Swan Foundation Scholarship is a $5,000 fellowship awarded to a graduate student with interests in public history. This scholarship is administered by the Mid-Atlantic Regional Center for the Humanities (MARCH) at Rutgers-Camden. This year, the Swan Fellowship has been awarded to graduate student Will Krakower. We extend a hearty congratulations to you, Will!