Originally published October 4, 2016
By Victor Hurtado
Junior, Art History
From May 28 through July 26, I worked with the Texas Historical Commission (THC) in Austin, acquiring professional and real-world experience in the field of historic preservation. My internship was split between two divisions within the THC: the Division of Architecture in June and the Community Heritage Development Division in July.
In the Division of Architecture, I catalogued, documented and digitized paperwork for the Section 106 review team whose job it is to review federally funded projects that might adversely affect historic properties. These catalogued items will ultimately be uploaded to a publically accessible website that researchers and the public interested in historic preservation may access.
In the Community Heritage Development Division, I was tasked with updating data on Certified Local Government and Main Street cities in Texas that have greater access to preservation funding. While doing this, I also researched architectural design guidelines, standards and historic preservation ordinances in each city. At the completion of my internship, I was assigned with providing my recommendations for the best preservation ordinances, design guidelines and standards in Texas.
I had the pleasure of networking with many professionals in the THC including the directors in each division and the director of the THC himself, Mark Wolfe. The other intern and myself had lunch with him and learned about his preservation philosophy, obtaining a different perspective. In a “Real Places” conference that was hosted by the THC, I felt inspired by how large the preservation community is in the state of Texas. There were several hundred preservationists from every corner of Texas! It was in this conference that I was publicly recognized as one of two interns for the summer. I felt extremely proud to represent the El Paso County Historic Commission and my community.
My supervisors took me on site visits to different cities in the vicinity of Austin for a richer educational experience. I visited Georgetown, Bastrop, San Antonio and other cities.
Besides work duties, the experience of living in Austin and exploring the city for two months was by far the best part of my summer internship. I was quite fortunate to find a place to stay in Austin at the very last minute after departing El Paso. My roommates were awesome and we explored Austin and neighboring cities together. We went kayaking in Lady Bird Lake, swimming in Barton Springs and McKinney Falls, tried out new food, enjoyed the “Music Capital of the World,” and experienced nature.
Although it was a fairly short internship, I felt that I obtained a broader perspective by getting out of my comfort zone and exposing myself to this experience. I now feel a lot more confident to venture into a city by myself. I will indubitably put this experience to work as I become more involved with the El Paso County Historical Commission in order to make a positive impact in my community. Further, I will have this experience in mind as I progress in my undergraduate and graduate education and make future career decisions.