In just a few days, I’ll be hitting the road for Rome, New York, to start my internship at Fort Stanwix National Monument. It’s hard for me to believe that June is already here, but I’ve been keeping busy while I wait for my start date.

Boston vacation Maymester course

I knew that my schedule would be packed this summer once I started my internship, so I jumped at the chance to take a Maymester course and get three credits done by the end of May.

Our Museums in Contemporary Practice class spent a whirlwind week in Boston, where we visited nine museums in five days. We spoke with museum professionals in a variety of public-facing positions, examining the museum’s relationship with the community and the public’s role in shaping museum practice.

I hope that this focused attention to issues of audience will help me at Fort Stanwix, where I will be preparing and researching materials for an upcoming exhibit. I’m looking forward to learning how their team uses objects and exhibition techniques to engage the public.

Work-school balance

After a long Amtrak ride back from Boston and a night in my own bed, I was ready to get started on the first summer session. I’m taking an online section of Information Policy, which is a core course for MSLIS students. I’m also an instructional assistant for an online Art History course. It’s great that both courses are flexible and online, so they won’t interfere with my hours at my internship.

Most recently, I attended the New York Archives Conference (NYAC) in Utica. At NYAC, I presented a poster based on a paper I wrote for my Preservation of Library and Archival Materials class through the iSchool.

With the rest of my time, I’ve been working as many hours as I can at my ongoing job at Bird Library as a preservation assistant. In the Preservation lab, we repair the library’s circulating books: everything from torn pages to complete rebinds. My goal has been to help train new summer workers and complete some of our more time-consuming repairs before I start my internship, after which I’ll only be at the library for one day a week.

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Looking ahead: my first week and beyond

As my start date approaches, I’ve been in touch with my contact at Fort Stanwix. She has helpfully explained what to expect from my first week. My days will be fairly structured while I go through training on our procedures. Curiously, she also advised me to wear something with pockets. I can’t wait to get started and find out why!

I’ve worked on exhibition research and design before, and I’ve even done some object handling. My LIS coursework has helped me brush up on my research skills, including the use of primary sources. I’m feeling the most confident about those aspects of my internship. Though both of my degree programs require classes related to cataloging and collections management, I have yet to take them. This part of my responsibilities will be my biggest learning opportunity.

I’m sure I’ll also be asking lots of questions about conservation procedure for an archaeological collection – I can’t help it! Conservation is a passion of mine, though it’s not part of my job description. I hope that by the end of my internship, I’ll have a well-rounded foundation in managing this kind of collection. 

Lessons learned

Looking back over the process of finding an internship, I think that my sincere excitement about the project went a long way toward getting me the interview. It also helped that I had experience with some of the tasks I’ll be doing–though notably, not all of them. Interns need to bring something to the table, but organizations also know that you’re there to learn.

If there’s one thing I realize now that I didn’t when I applied, it’s that the number of hours matters. I will complete 400 hours for my internship, which, as it turns out, is a lot! This made scheduling a challenge and meant that I had to abandon my dreams of an ambitious summer trip. I don’t have any regrets, but it might not have been worth it if the internship weren’t a great fit.

With everything I’ve been working on this summer, I’m just glad that I didn’t have to relocate for this internship. If you need me this weekend, you can find me loading up podcasts for the commute to Rome.