Interview with Amy Graves
Name: Amy Graves
Major, minor, and graduation year: History, Communications, 2000
Job Title: History Interpreter One Position (impersonates an Ojibwa woman from 1804)
Organization/ Place of work: Minnesota Historical Society- North West Company Fur Post located in Pine City, MN
You're a History Interpreter, what does that entail? What are your duties or responsibilities?
-It's very important for me to impersonate my Ojibwa character to the best of my ability while I take school groups and tourists on tours of the Fur Post. I also need to know and recite to my tour groups about the history era my character is from, the importance of the fur trade to history, some history of the area, and the effects the fur trade had on the area during my time in 1804.
What are the highlights of your job that you enjoy most?
- What I enjoy most about my job is that I can work with people and talk about history. Within this field of work, I am able to combine my love for entertainment with my love to talk and interact with people.
What are the challenges that you face with your job that are not enjoyable?
- The only challenge I can think of is that I'm always working outside. There are no indoor tours so even when it is cold, raining, etc. I am outside working. It doesn't help that I am not that much of an "outdoorsy" person to begin with either.
How do you spend your work days? Do you spend a lot of time office/lab/meetings/outside/___?
- Like I said before, I spend a lot of time outside giving tours, but I also spend time researching about my character and the history so that I can better impersonate for the tour groups that come to learn about the Fur Post. I research a lot on traditional Ojibwa stories, how to identify animal tracks and plants, some cooking traditions, and anything else pertaining to the Fur Post or my character that is cultural or tradition.
How did this type of job/field interest you and how did you get started?
- Having been disabled from my previous line of work, I decided to get back into a field that I love, something with history. It took me a couple of years, but I got to come back to everything that I like to do. I enjoy history, meeting and giving people tours, and getting to know my character.
What qualifications did you need to obtain this job?
- Some qualifications that I needed to obtain my position was a background in customer service, some experience in acting and working with people, knowledge on how to operate a register, studied history in school and/or going to school for history, and my minor in communications. It doesn't matter the status of the degree because experience is highly regarded for this position.
What personal qualities or abilities do you believe contribute most to success in this job/field?
- The personal qualities I think contribute to my success with my job most is my friendly personality and my educational background in history. I am told over and over again that I am very easy to talk to and on tours this is a good quality to have because then more questions are asked.
What organizations were you involved in College that helped you towards your career?
- At UWS, I was a Student Ambassador through the Admissions office so I gave tours of the campus, I was president of the History Club, and a Student Senator in student government representing the history department. I believe that all of those roles provided me with the confidence to interact and communicate with people.
What degree/s is appropriate for this line of work?
- I think that you could get by with any degree coming into this line of work. The real question you have to ask yourself is if you enjoy interacting and working with people and dressing in a costume.
Where and/or what do you hope to be in 2-5 years? 5-10 years? What are the keys to this career advancement?
- In 2-5 years and 5-10 years, I hope to become a more professional member at the Fur Post and hold a coordinator position where I would organize the tours or become a site manager.
What was the best piece of advice you received and from who that helped you towards your career?
- The best piece of advice I received was from Tammy Fanning who works in Career Services at UWS. At my freshman orientation Tammy said, "College is what you make of it, find ways to make what you want out of life happen."
Do you have any advice or "words from experience" for a college student interested in this job/field?
-My advice for a student interested in this field would be that you can't give up on what you love to do. You may not make a lot of money in this line of work, but it's worth it if you love history. For me, it's an emotionally rewarding field to be in.
If you knew all this back in college, what would you say were the most important classes? Is there anything you would have paid more attention to? Any additional classes you would have taken?
- I would have liked being enrolled in more theater or acting classes so that I had some professional instruction in my educational background because in my current position, it's almost all acting. I also wish I had performed better in my communications classes to gain more insight on how to interact with people better.
In college, people claim that a bachelor's degree isn't enough anymore and that you need a master's or doctorate degree to get your foot in the door. What's your opinion?
- I believe that in some fields you need a master's degree, but today, most employers are looking for your experience background that pertains to the jobs you're applying for. Because I want a higher position with the Minnesota Historical Society, I've gone back to school and I am currently enrolled at St. Scholastica, St. Paul Minnesota campus to obtain a master's degree in Management/emphasis in Organizational Development.