Fellowship gives recipient opportunity to work in national museum

Michael Pittavino, a graduate student in the history department, has been given the opportunity to work with a team of specialists on the creation phase of a new national museum.

The Diplomacy Center in Washington D.C., is a museum in the works. Pittavino will be interning for the Bureau of Public Affairs, but more specifically the U.S. Diplomacy Center.

According to its website, the mission of the Diplomacy Center is to focus solely on the U.S. diplomats who are on the frontline everyday working towards achieving America’s goals.

Pittavino’s future plans involve working as a public history professional, which allows career opportunities in the museum field, government, and administration.

Leading up to the internship

Pittavino grew up in a military family and had the opportunity to travel all over the U.S., but eventually settled down in Upstate New York.

While attending junior college, Pittavino took a few history courses and enjoyed them, but didn’t see it as a possible career path.

After taking a few years off from school, Pittavino decided to return and earn his bachelor's degree where he decided to pursue history.

“I decided to go for history for undergrad, but even as I was getting my undergraduate degree, I didn’t know that it would be something I wanted to get into further,” Pittavino said.

While at SUNY Oswego, Pittavino interned at The H. Lee White Marine Museum in the summer of 2012 after completing his bachelor’s degree and has worked there part-time since the internship.

“It is a very unique opportunity for me,” Pittavino said. “They don’t make a national museum that often and then how many people actually have the opportunity to experience working on it.”
Michael Pittavino
Student, History

His opportunity at the marine museum led to Pittavino’s decision to return to SUNY Oswego to earn his master’s degree in history.

After finishing his first year of graduate school, Pittavino decided to research new internship opportunities and found one at the U.S. Diplomacy Center.

Pittavino is particularly interested in the history of international relations and the internship at the U.S. Diplomacy Center was a perfect fit. He applied and received the intern position, but the expense of living in Washington D.C. for 10 weeks with an unpaid internship would be nearly impossible.

Diplomacy, Festa and future plans

With the help of the history department and his advisor, Gwen Kay, Pittavino applied for the Festa Fellowship and received the award to help pay for living expenses while interning.

Pittavino will be working with a team of 14 people to help create a new national museum, specialists include: curators, exhibit design specialists, educational specialists, and Foreign Service officers.

“It is a very unique opportunity for me,” Pittavino said. “They don’t make a national museum that often and then how many people actually have the opportunity to experience working on it.”

According to Pittavino, practical skills are learned in degree classes, but when entering in the field of public history, what employers are looking for is experience and that is not just learned in a classroom.

Pittavino will be starting his second year of graduate school and is looking forward to upcoming opportunities to gain more experience that will lead him to his future goals of being a public history professional.

“Without the Oswego history department, none of this would be possible,” Pittavino said. “It’s really important that you have a good relationship with your advisors. Their support was just amazing.”