An internship examining Jewish history helps student plan her future
St. Olaf College student Sophie Friedman ’14 was hoping simply to learn more about careers in library science and archives when she reached out to Susan Hoffman ‘76, the former archivist at the Jewish Historical Society of the Upper Midwest.
“I’m a history major and really interested in Jewish History,” Friedman says. “She pretty much had my dream job.”
But the connection resulted in much more than conversation. This Interim Friedman is interning with the Upper Midwest Jewish Archives, helping the organization maintain and restore access to artifacts, records, and historical documents.
Finding this opportunity actually began last spring, when Friedman visited St. Olaf College’s Piper Center for Vocation and Career. At the suggestion of staff members there, she utilized the online alumni directory, which led her to Hoffman.
The two corresponded over the summer. Hoffman was enthusiastic to talk about her experiences at the Jewish Historical Society, where she worked until taking a position as project archivist at University of Minnesota’s Andersen Library. She then established another connection for Friedman: Kate Dietrick ‘06, the assistant archivist for the Upper Midwest Jewish Archives, located in the Andersen Library.
The three remained in regular contact and eventually set up a time in August for Friedman to receive a tour of the archives and to meet and speak with Hoffman and Dietrick about their different career paths as well as their perspectives on the field of library science and archives.
“I was there for over three hours. The work they were doing really captured my interest,” Friedman says.
Friedman received internship funding through the Piper Center, and she’s enjoying a month immersed in an archival setting. She’s also connected with yet another St. Olaf alumna: Linnea Paulson Anderson ’87, the archivist for the Social Welfare History Archives, where the Upper Midwest Jewish Archives are housed.
“My supervisor has made sure to assign me a variety of tasks, from inventorying oral histories to pulling photographs for a website to processing a collection of World War I and World War II letters,” Friedman says. “So far the experience has confirmed my interest in archives and has pretty much convinced me to pursue a graduate degree in library science or public history, both of which would allow me to become an archivist.”