My internship at National Geographic has been off to a great start. This summer, I’m one of about 25 students taking part in the internship program, and all of us are working in different areas, including education, legal, and technology labs to name a few.

Everyone at National Geographic has been extremely welcoming, and it’s been a great opportunity to learn about the various kinds of work that goes on at headquarters.

Outside of the National Geographic Society building in Washington, DC.

Outside of the National Geographic Society building in Washington, DC. Photo by Isabel McCullough.

Taken for Granted?

The main project I’ll be working on throughout my internship this summer will be processing a collection of final reports for National Geographic Society research grants.

NGS has awarded over 14,000 research grants since its founding in 1888. These reports have been shuffled around quite a few times through various office relocations, bouncing from department to department more than once, and getting more disorganized with every move.

Even taking into consideration that final reports weren’t regularly collected until the 1950s, that’s still a lot of ground to cover. The first step has been sorting through the files enough to everything roughly organized and get a sense of what will be important moving forward.

Where Isabel will work this summer on a collection of over 14,000 National Geographic research grants. Photo by Isabel McCullough.

Explorers Festival

Every year, National Geographic’s scientists, researchers, photographers, and educators from all over the globe converge on DC for Explorers Festival. The explorers leave the field to become storytellers, coming together to share their adventures with each other and the rest of the National Geographic family. Lucky for us interns, we got here just in time.

A week full of talks and panel discussions began with a series of lightning talks in which the explorers boiled down their current work into a one minute, one slide presentation. Anyone who has had to give a presentation of their research before knows that’s not an easy feat. Though, for audience members, the effect is well worth it.

In the span of an hour, we got an idea of the breadth of the questions the explorers are trying to answer and the problems they are trying to solve, ranging from plastic pollution in the Himalayas to identifying new species from the deepest ocean floors. The lightning talks offered a glimpse at how much we know about the world and how much there is left to figure out.

Librarians might not be the first group of people that comes to mind when it comes to potential partners for explorers, but as stewards of our collective knowledge, librarians have a part to play in this journey as well.

Explorers Festival at National Geographic

In the crowd at the Explorers Festival by National Geographic. Photo by Isabel McCullough.