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Recent Grad Interns at Naval History and Heritage Command

Meet John Detlie ‘13, a native of Dexter, Iowa. After graduating from Augustana with majors in history and philosophy, he spent time this summer serving as an intern for the Naval History and Heritage Command in Washington, D.C. Detlie shares his journey from Augustana to the nation’s Capital.

Q: Can you share some of your duties as an intern?

A: I worked in the archives branch of the Naval History and Heritage Command, which is located in the Washington Navy Yard, along with the offices of the Chief of Naval Operations and the official museum of the United States Navy. My primary responsibility was tracking the deployment patterns of the US Navy from the Spanish-American War in 1898 until the present day. I also assisted in a number of smaller research projects, including a study on funeral proceedings for former Chiefs of Naval Operations, and assisting the Underwater Archaeology branch in a research project on a pre-World War I torpedo that was salvaged off the California coast.

My history major trained me to do exactly the kind of research and writing that was required by these projects, including using primary sources, drawing reasonable conclusions and making supportable assertions, and being very patient when going through old books with crumbly pages.

Q: How did you come across your internship?

A: I was at the annual dinner for Phi Alpha Theta and happened to start a conversation with a fellow history major who had spent a semester in Washington. She suggested that I look at the Navy Museum for potential jobs or internships. I went to their website and submitted an online application, including an academic writing sample, an unofficial transcript, and a letter of recommendation. I was assisted by Dr. Peg Preston, the chair of the history department, who wrote my letter of recommendation. She also gave me a great deal of indirect assistance in the process; the writing sample I submitted for the application came from one of her classes, and her encouragement and support meant a great deal to me during my time at Augustana.

Q: How is life in Washington D.C. treating you?

A: For my first big city to live in, I couldn’t have picked a better place than D.C. There is so much to see and do in the city and, if you play your cards right, you can live pretty cheaply, too. I was busy from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. on weekdays with my internship but, on Wednesdays, I joined other interns on field trips to places like the National Portrait Gallery and the Postal Museum; I spent my weekends roaming downtown D.C. and going to the various Smithsonian museums.

The best experience I had in Washington was going to the Capitol Concert on the Fourth of July, where I got to see John Williams conducting the National Symphony Orchestra. I also got to experience life in a big city: figuring out how to use the Metro, seeing all the sights, finding new and interesting places to eat and shop, and occasionally getting lost.

Q: What was your experience at Augustana like?

A: I loved being at Augustana, and I wouldn’t trade my four years there for the world. Some memorable moments: meeting my New Student Orientation group for the first time; receiving an email that I initially thought was spam, but turned out to be a nomination for the Covenant Awards; attending the very first football game ever held at Kirkeby-Over Stadium; working with 10 English students from the University at Exeter on an archaeological dig in Mitchell; and spending a month in Hawaii on a study trip.

Q: Can you share your future plans after the internship?

A: I’m currently looking for jobs in the Sioux Falls area. In the long run, I plan to pursue either a master's degree in history or a degree in law.

- Chi Ngo '13