During the summer of 2015, Ben Gagne-Maynard worked on a UROP project under the guidance of Professor Anthony Petro. He conducted his own historical and archival research project.
CCD: What did you do in that position? What were your responsibilities?
Ben: As a student researcher under BU’s Undergraduate Research Opportunities Program (UROP). My research was aimed at gaining a better understanding of the 19th American temperance movement under the leadership of the Women’s Christian Temperance Union, the largest women’s organization of its time. My project focused on the rhetorical strategies employed by both male and female temperance advocates during the late 19th century, with a specific focus on the points of argumentation that allowed those advocates to convince a significant portion of the American public that temperance was at once a patriotic, a woman’s, and a Christian reform. I was responsible for conducting primary and secondary source research at BU using the Theology Archives and Howard Gotlieb Archival Research Center, and our various libraries here on campus. I worked independently and closely with my adviser, Professor Petro, in order to refine my work and eventually present to my fellow UROP awardees. I wrote a well-conceived abstract and gained mastery of my topic as a historical researcher.
CCD: How did you find the position? What helped you get it? What resources (at BU or elsewhere) did you use?
Ben: I found this position by speaking with some of my professors and learning about the UROP program through both former and current UROP awardees. I believe that the writing, research and critical thinking skills I have gained as a student here at BU, as well as guidance from various allowed me to get this position. I utilized the UROP website, the Howard Gotlieb and Theology Libraries, and also the Center for Career Development in order to refine my resume and to learn how to explain and market my position and role as a UROP awardee to future employers.
CCD: What is one thing you’ve learned that will benefit any future internships or other hands-on experiences?
Ben: One thing I learned from my experience is that working individually on a singular project is difficult yet rewarding. I worked mostly alone on this project, and it took a lot of perseverance to stay on topic and be as productive as possible. As a result, I learned that it is equally important to stay goal- and task-oriented when working alone and to forge strong relationships with others so that those times when you do interact and collaborate with others are rewarding and cherished.
CCD: What are the top 3 skills you’ve learned from this experience?
Ben: Patience and perseverance when approaching a large project, the ability to present complex issues and topics in an approachable way, and the ability to write and communicate with others in a more clear and persuasive manner.
CCD: How has this experience changed your future plans?
Ben: I truly enjoyed my work this summer, and it affirmed for me why I love my discipline as a historian. It also showed me that I have many skills I did not initially believe I had, such as the ability to craft succinct and well-written project proposals, understand and analyze complex sources such as sermons and legal documents, and present my knowledge to others in a captivating and accessible way. Thus, this experience didn’t change my plans to possibly finding a career in academia, but it showed me that I am well rounded enough to pursue other passions and career paths.
CCD: What advice would you give to another student about making the most of a summer experience?
Ben: Take your work seriously. Do not get discouraged by the long hours, tedious work, and seeming repetitiveness of a project. Your work has value, you just need to understand and learn to appreciate how even the simplest of tasks can contribute to an important and lasting end product.