I came to the General Lew Wallace Study and Museum as an intern in the hopes of learning more about the business side of nonprofits and how I could go about making a career of marketing in the nonprofit sector.
Amanda Wesselmann, the Associate Director, took my desire into account by helping me develop a summer project that would both help me learn more about marketing and help the Museum achieve its publicity goals. Essentially, I had three major jobs: educate the public by giving tours of the Museum, assist Kara Edie, the Marketing Coordinator, in publicizing events, and assist Amanda in the execution of those events.
I completed this project by creating numerous press releases, brochures, and flyers for the Museum to help draw attention to events like the Taste of Montgomery County. I also helped in the execution of events like Discovery Saturday. In addition, I helped with the Civil War Encampment and the Lew Wallace Youth Academy. Helping to publicize and execute these events was an eye-opening experience for me for several reasons.
First, they showed me the large amount of creativity that nonprofits must use to get public support for their events. Due to budget restraints, Kara and I constantly brain-stormed effective, cheap ways to increase attendance.
Second, I was able to learn the real “meat and potatoes” of marketing. I learned about contact lists, press release layouts, and graphic design layouts. Museum staff provided great “on the job training.”
Finally, I have become very adept at “reading people” and figuring out what they want from an experience. While giving tours, I quickly realized that no two groups are exactly alike. That is, one person may expect me to tell a story about each object in the collection. On the other hand, the next person may prefer to simply sit and take it all in. I feel like acting as a tour guide for the Museum has taught me to read people’s reactions to my words effectively and tailor my behavior accordingly. I am sure that all three of these lessons will serve me well as I continue in my marketing career.
Alex Thompson, Wabash College ’08, Public Programs Intern Summer 2008