It is a cool autumn morning as Sarah Balint walks up the steps of the Greer Heritage Museum, unlocks the door, and begins readying for visitors.
In 2020, BJU history major Balint planned on starting an internship with the Creation Museum, but it was canceled due to COVID-19. “I reached out to Career Services the next semester, hoping they could help me,” Balint said. Career Services reached out to several places on behalf of Balint, and the director of the Greer Heritage Museum responded.
Her internship covered May 2021 through early January 2022 and created a spark that has led Balint to a career decision. “The opportunities here are great,” said Balint, of Taylors, South Carolina.
Curator vs. Archival Work
Balint’s overarching career goal is museum curatorship. Curators are individuals who essentially run museums. They oversee the exhibits, maintain the museum’s contents and collect artifacts, among many other duties. Keeping this in mind, she wanted to do an internship at a museum.
While Balint has always been interested in museum work, it wasn’t until her internship that she realized she enjoyed archival work. While curatorship is much in the public eye, archival work is the unseen end of museum work. Archival work focuses on accessioning objects, entering them into the museum’s online database and preserving the objects.
When Balint started her internship, her supervisor gave her several areas that the museum needed help with, including archival work. After some time, she came to the realization that “I really do enjoy this work,” Balint said.
Her favorite part was learning the history and story behind an item. “I find it really interesting hearing their end of the story and (being) able to help preserve that history, so that other future generations can come and see it,” Balint said.
Opportunities are Open
As a child, Balint didn’t enjoy studying history until she was in eighth grade when a history teacher changed her mind. After taking several history classes in high school, she realized how passionate she was about history. “It made me realize this is where I want to go,” Balint said.
As the sole museum intern, Balint had many duties. In addition to her archival work, she opened and closed the museum, assisted visitors and accepted donations. She also conducted research in the museum’s library for the public and the museum.
The Greer Heritage Museum ultimately gave her a lot of hands-on experience that Balint wouldn’t have had in a classroom. “If I didn’t do an internship, I wouldn’t know what I wanted to do exactly,” she said.
After graduating in December 2021, Balint plans to attend graduate school for a degree related to museum or archival studies.