Lessons Learned from Second Avenue Interns: Kathleen Maguire
What made you want to study history?
I fell in love with history in my 8th grade, U.S. History class. My most vivid memories are of us playing trench warfare learning about World War 1, and having heated debates “on the Senate floor” about Civil Rights. My teacher made learning fun and he showed me the importance of understanding our nation’s history. He pushed us all to explore the ways that we could apply our historical knowledge to discussions of current events. My appreciation only continued to grow as I went through high school and took yet another U.S. History class to expand my knowledge even further. I am a firm believer in the importance of educating the coming generations about how our nation was created, the good and bad that ensued, and how to use this knowledge to contribute to its growth and betterment. This brings me to my passion for education. What’s the point in studying History if not to share it with others? Knowledge is, indeed, power and by providing historical education, you are giving people, particularly young people, the necessary tools to shape their futures.
What was the best moment from working at Second Avenue and why?
So far, my favorite moments at Second Avenue were collecting primary sources for the Election Edge web application. This was one of the first projects I was assigned while working here and I must say it was fascinating. Each morning I collected as many primary sources as I could to add to the Election History database. While doing this research, I learned something new with every source I pulled. Reading through The Federalist Papers, The Underground Railroad Records, and soldiers’ written accounts of trench warfare reignited my passion for learning. Working directly with primary sources gives me a sense of being part of history unfolding. This form of learning is invaluable in my opinion and every moment I spent doing that research was absolutely invigorating.
What are you learning about business in general?
From working at Second Avenue, I’ve learned the keys to success are staying organized and staying connected. Being surrounded by such capable professionals, I’ve gotten the chance to witness first-hand what it looks like to be successful in business. First and foremost, you must have good organizational skills are first and foremost. One cannot conduct good business if they are not smart about how, where, and when they direct their efforts. Being energy efficient is a crucial skill for any professional to possess.
Staying connected is equally important. Creating strong bonds with other people in your industry is critical to establishing yourself as a professional. Forming a network of unique people with whom you can exchange ideas, passions, and information is what helps companies and individuals learn and grow alongside one another. This applies both in and out of the office. The close-knit community at Second Avenue is one of the most accepting, warm, and respectful communities I’ve worked with. Our CEO, Tory Van Voorhis works hard to maintain strong connections with each of her employees and even while I was an intern, she put just as much care into our relationship as any other. The positive environment at Second Avenue fosters a creative space that allows each employee to flourish and grow in their work, which in my opinion, is what yields the most success.
What life/skill or principle did you use most in your time here?
The skill I came to find most useful was communication. Effective communication skills have played a key role in each project I’ve participated in. When creating something with a team, you must be effective at articulating your ideas to those around you so you every step of the way. For example, early on in my internship, I had drafted several ideas for product feature developments and had to convey them clearly enough to get my coworkers on board with my vision. Luckily, I feel my education at Smith College has well-prepared me for this task. Even as an intern, I was able to participate in the creative process for Election Edge which taught me the importance of effective communication in the workplace.
How are you more prepared for your future career?
Prior to this internship, I had no idea what career path I wanted to pursue that would involve my love of History. At Second Avenue, however, I was gifted with the opportunity to take part in so many different areas of the company. I came onto the team as a research intern but during my time here, I’ve gotten to play an active role in product feature design, content development for our new Scavenger Hunt feature on Election Edge create innovative lesson plans for teachers, help with teacher outreach programs, and now I am joining the sales and marketing team as a full-time contractor. I’ve gotten to partake in the entire creative process behind the scenes of a forward-thinking, education software company. I entered thinking a career in history only encompassed being a professor or museum curator and now I have such a broader perspective. I’ve seen all the different pieces that come together to create a historical education product such as Election Edge—the tech designers, the sales people, the researchers, and the project managers. With this perspective, I realize I have so much more potential than I previously imagined. I now see that I can make change using history education in an ever-evolving world in ways that I never understood before.