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History + football = dream internship

| Judy Berthiaume

One of the many things that Jeremy Swick appreciates about UW-Eau Claire is its efforts to ensure that Blugolds have access to quality internships, the kinds of internships that give students meaningful work experiences that go far beyond fetching coffee.

Yet for a couple of days during his Ohio-based summer internship, the history graduate student eagerly volunteered to fetch or deliver anything that was needed … well, at least anything needed by anyone associated with his much-loved Green Bay Packers.

After all, that whole running errands thing doesn’t seem so bad when you’re a lifelong Packers fan and the errands include delivering something to the press room just — not-so-coincidently — as your childhood hero is giving his Pro Football Hall of Fame induction speech.

Jeremy was an intern at the Pro Football Hall of Fame in Canton, Ohio, during the 2016 summer, the same summer that legendary Green Bay Packers quarterback Brett Favre was inducted.

“I only was able to meet him briefly to shake his hand and thank him for what he has done for the Packers and the game as a whole after his press conference,” Jeremy says of Favre. “I was working in the media center during enshrinement weekend, but anything Packers related that needed to be done, I gladly helped. I even personally delivered Mark Murphy, the Packers’ president and CEO, his tickets for the enshrinement events.”

His willingness to help and his obvious love for the Packers landed him in the press room as Favre was set to give his induction speech.

“I was asked to deliver some items to the press box and I just might have stayed during his entire 38-minute speech,” Jeremy says with a laugh. “Naturally, knowing I was such a big fan, my boss had anticipated this and was perfectly fine with it. The induction was perfect. It was amazing seeing all those Packer and Favre fans in the seats for his enshrinement. The induction was an incredible experience.”

While watching his hero be enshrined was a highlight of the internship, the entire summer was filled with incredible moments for someone with a passion for both sports — football in particular — and history.

Jeremy’s graduate program requires him to complete an internship in the public history field to graduate.

He knew that Brent Hensel, a UW-Eau Claire graduate who now is the curator for the Packers of Hall of Fame, had completed an internship at the Pro Football Hall of Fame during his time on campus.

And knowing that Blugolds have a reputation for helping Blugolds, Jeremy worked with his professor, Dr. John Mann, to connect with Brent, who then put Jeremy in touch with the right people at the Pro Football Hall of Fame.

His networking efforts paid off when he landed the coveted summer internship.

“What attracted me to this internship was my love for sports, especially football,” says Jeremy, a native of Sussex who earned his undergraduate degree in history from UW-Eau Claire in 2015 and will earn his master’s degree in history in May. “As an undergraduate, I wrote my capstone on the birth of American football.

“I have a desire to work in a museum and I thought this would be the perfect internship to combine my two passions — sports and history.”

As an intern at the Pro Football Hall of Fame, Jeremy processed all the artifact donations made to the Hall of Fame in the summer of 2016.

He also organized and worked to establish the Black College Football Hall of Fame Collection, an opportunity he relished given that one of the main areas of study in his graduate program is African American history.

In addition, he also managed the collections for the Hall of Fame, specifically focusing on the Cleveland Browns, Buffalo Bills and the Black College Football Hall of Fame.

His varied duties during the internship included updating the records as the artifacts moved throughout and away from the museum, to ensure records were accurate. He photographed condition images of objects processed for use in database identification, assisted in exhibit installation for the Class of 2016 Gallery and Black College Hall of Fame Exhibit, and cooperatively worked with a team of interns and museum staff for the Pro Football Hall of Fame Induction Weekend, Tim McGraw’s Concert for Legends, and the Pro Football Hall of Fame Game.

“Since I can remember, I have always been a football fan, especially a Packers fan,” Jeremy says. “It was an incredible experience to be surrounded by so much history. It was amazing the range of artifacts the Hall of Fame had.

“Never in a million years did I think I would be handling footballs that predated the NFL, sewing accession tags on hall of fame player’s jerseys or taking photographs of football helmets for ‘work.’ I felt like a kid in a candy store.”

A self-described huge Packers fan who’s been attending games at the historic Lambeau Field for many years, Jeremy says the people he worked with through his internship were amused by his expansive knowledge of the Green Bay Packers.

“I can remember the first game I went to on Nov. 19, 2000, and the Packers beat the Colts 26-24,” Jeremy says. “Growing up, I idolized Brett Favre and the incredible plays he made throughout his career. Toward the end of his career, when he left for the Jets and then that team in purple and yellow, I’ll admit, I was saddened, but I still cheered for him.”

Born in Guatemala City, Guatemala, and adopted by a Wisconsin family in 1992, Jeremy says he was “indoctrinated into the cheesehead culture” from an early age.

“Favre was my team’s quarterback from the time I came here until I was a junior in high school,” Jeremy says. “So having the chance to help set up his display case, see his bronze bust, and help with the setup of his press conference was incredible.”

While it was a bonus to be an intern the year Favre was inducted, just being part of the Pro Football Hall of Fame Induction Weekend was a thrill, Jeremy says.

And working in the press room during Favre’s induction weekend was a special treat, he says.

While journalists came from all over to cover the weekend's events, there were a significant number of reporters from Wisconsin.

“Being from Sussex, I was able to meet and connect with many news and sports anchors I had grown up watching,” Jeremy says. “My parents always watched FOX6 News when I was growing up so I knew the cast from that station the best. So I was able to meet another one of my childhood heroes, Ted Perry of Fox6, which was another cool experience.”

While his graduate program required him to complete an internship, Jeremy encourages all Blugolds to look for opportunities to use the skills they are learning in the classroom in a real-world internship setting.

“Internships are an incredible opportunity for students to step into the role of their future profession and see what they enjoy or do not enjoy about a particular position,” says Jeremy, who hopes to work in a museum in a curatorial or a collections/registrar role after he graduates. “Our school does an excellent job in making sure that the stereotypical intern role of doing nothing but grabbing coffee does not happen. I was fortunate to enjoy an incredible experience with incredible people that helped me grow as a professional in the field of public history.

Jeremy says he also would encourage students to make the most of every moment during an internship.

“Take every chance you get to try something new even if it’s outside your perceived job role or interest,” Jeremy says. “Additionally, I’d encourage them to take the chance on their ‘dream internship,’ even if that means packing up and moving to another state for a little while.”

After all, as Jeremy found out, you might just find yourself rubbing elbows with your childhood hero.