Week Ten: Ending an Era

After ten wonderful weeks working at the Library of Congress, I have finally made my way back home.  With some time to reflect, I realized that the part of interning I was least prepared for was the very end.  Finishing up an internship requires some planning and preparation, which you often do not hear much about.  Here are some tips from my own experiences:

Do not leave anything unfinished

Whether you are creating flyers for an upcoming event, organizing filing cabinets, or digitizing electronic data (as I was), do not leave an uncompleted project behind.  Doing so inconveniences the next person to take on the task, and can leave a poor last impression.  Instead, organize you time in your final week to ensure that you are not leaving behind a half-empty box of papers or partly finished pamphlet.

Finish all of your required paperwork

The last week of an internship is “crunch time” when it comes to paperwork.  Reports, separation forms, and other official documents should be completed in full and on time, so that permanent employees do not have to track you down at your forwarding address down the line.

Leave forwarding information

Leaving an organization does not mean severing ties completely.  Future employees may need to contact you for official reasons, and supervisors will often want to remain in contact.  Providing a forwarding email address that you regularly check will help cultivate professional connections and ensure that you can effectively communicate with former coworkers.

Ask supervisors for future references

It is an unwritten assumption that students can call upon former internship supervisors for letters of recommendation for future positions.  However, it is a professional courtesy to ask supervisors before leaving whether or not you can refer to them in the future.  Recommendations make the world go round, and everyone understands this; just don’t expect one (or at least a good one) without first asking for it.

My summer has been a great time for professional exploration and personal growth, and I truly relished my time as a Junior Fellow at the Library of Congress.  I cannot wait to see what my future holds, but I know that my time with the Veterans History Project will serve as a guide for my development!

Week Nine: “So What Did You Do This Summer?”

Throughout this summer, I have been using this blog to talk about a cornucopia of subjects, from networking to career exploration.  However, one thing I have yet to discuss in great detail is what I am actually doing this summer.

This fact struck me as I was describing my summer activities to Library of Congress employees and Congressional staff members during the annual Junior Fellows Display, which showcases the work of all of the Junior Fellows employed by the Library.  So I figured that for today’s post, one of my last blog posts about my summer internship in Washington, I would explain just what it is I do as a Junior Fellow.

The Veterans History Project table during the Junior Fellows Display, manned by fellow intern Walton Chaney.

The Veterans History Project table during the Junior Fellows Display, manned by fellow intern Walton Chaney.

I work in the archives of the Veterans History Project (VHP), the largest oral history repository in the United States.  Created by Congress in 2000 to collect, preserve, and share the stories of our nation’s veterans and war-serving civilians, VHP has over 91000 collections spanning from World War One to the present wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.  Veterans are interviewed for the project by volunteers across the country, who then donate the audio and video interviews as well as original documents for preservation and research at the Library of Congress’ Capitol Hill campus in Washington.

Working alongside the archivist for the Project, I am responsible for implementing VHP’s digital preservation workflows.  In a nutshell, that means that I preserve digital data in the collections much like a traditional archivist preserves physical information in photographs and manuscripts.

Objects from VHP's collections on display during the Junior Fellow Display day, including digitized discs.

Objects from VHP’s collections on display during the Junior Fellow Display day, including digitized discs.

A large portion of VHP’s digital holdings are in the form of CDs, DVDs, and other optical discs donated by volunteers.  These media carriers are generally not durable, and so there is an inherent risk of data loss if a disc is cracked, scratched, or chemically altered by labels and marker ink.  To ensure that the data on the discs is available for future generations, the electronic files from each disc are transferred to long-term preservation servers maintained by the Library.

This disc is suffering from “disc rot,” a degradation of the reflective layer of the disc that holds information. “Disc rot” by —scarecroe (talk). Licensed under Public domain via Wikimedia Commons – http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Disc_rot.jpg#mediaviewer/File:Disc_rot.jpg

The basic process is as follows:

  • Discs are processed for data transfer by determining how much data (in terms of bytes) exists on the disc and in what formats.  Certain formats are more accessible than others, and so special care is given to file types that may not be usable in the future (such as Word 1997 .doc files).
  • Each disc is run through a machine that “rips,” or extracts, the data from the disc and onto an external hard drive.  This ensures that none of the data or metadata (information about the data, such as date of creation) is lost or changed.
  • The ripped files are run through a software known as Bagger, which packages the information together and ensures that nothing has changed in the transfer process.
  • These packaged files are transferred a Library server, which can then “ingest” the data onto a long-term preservation server.

This process, which can take about a week for a box of 100 discs, has a simple end goal: to preserve the data and reduce dependency on the physical carrier.  Put another way, the data will survive even if the disc is to crack, break, or be consumed in a fire of historical proportions!

The machine used to "rip" data off of discs.

The machine used to “rip” data off of discs.

One of the coolest parts of my job is the fact that just 2 months ago, I did not know how to do any of this!  In the first week, on-the-job training exposed me to a whole new side of archiving and introduced me to four important software programs in the industry.

My hands-on, active job at the Library has taught me a lot about digital archives and information preservation that I could not have learned through books and articles.  My experiences at the Library have already pushed me to think more seriously about specializing in digital preservation, and will certainly continue to influence my future career explorations.

So there it is, the answer to the question posed by the title and echoed so often by my peers and colleagues!  Feel free to reach out by leaving a comment with any questions – it’s always hard to strike a balance between brevity and detail!

Week Eight: Entering the World of Formal Networking

My Golden Rule of Networking is simple: Don’t keep score.
        -Harvey MacKay

As I mentioned in last week’s post, casual networking with other interns and like-minded students is a great way to get used to the motions of networking.  However, these arm’s length connections are likely not the kind that will land you a future job or internship, nor are they the type that will spark an influential reference interview.  Leave that, as the quip goes, to the professionals.

Professional connections offer interns a laundry list of potentially invaluable benefits.  For starters, being privy to someone’s “life story” can be helpful in putting your own experiences and aspirations into context.  Learning that one of your coworkers took a few years off of graduate school to care for their family or travel the world, for example, might help guide your own decision-making process.  Professionals can also help you tap into the professional world by means of forums, blogs, journals, and professional associations.

One of the larger benefits of networking, for both sides, is the expansion of the “networking web.”  This works both ways.  While a full-blown professional might be able to connect you with other professionals and potential jobs in the future, interns can help their coworkers find applicants for entry-level positions.  Besides this, interns won’t be interns forever, so connecting with people in the primordial stages of their professional life can help consistently expand networks of young workers later down the road.

Many interns are often anxious when it comes to formal networking.  However, with a little practice (supplied by your casual connections), anyone can become proficient at expanding their networking web.  So far, the easiest way I have found to network is the combined lunch and reference interview.

A reference interview is, most simply, a way of getting someone to talk about themselves.  Sometimes known as an informational interview, these talks can help reveal a lot about the individual  as well as the profession at large.  Depending on the person you are speaking with and the questions you ask, reference interviews can be enlightening and influential in your thinking.

Questions guide the reference interview, and so having some well thought out and open-ended queries for a professional can be the deciding factor in an effective interview.  Some of my go-to questions include:

  • What made you want to enter this field?
  • What kinds of challenges do you face in your job?
  • Where do you see yourself in 5/10/n years?
  • What would you have done differently in the past, knowing what you do about the professional world now?
  • What would you say is the biggest challenge young professionals will face in the next few years?
  • Can you connect me with other people who I might want to speak with?

Using open-ended but targeted questions can help revive a failing interview, and demonstrate appreciation and interest on the part of the interviewer.  The last question is also key to expanding your growing professional contact book.

All of this can be anxiety-producing for interns, and understandably so.  That is why I often pair such interviews with lunch.  Grants such as the Jacobs Family Internship Fund have helped me fund lunches and casual coffee meetings with professionals, which can be expensive in large cities like Washington, D.C.  By meeting over food, some of the attention is diverted away from both parties, contributing a more relaxed atmosphere that helps break the ice with new connections.

Formal networking can be a scary concept at first.  However, it is hard to overstate the value of professional connections in the immediate, short, and long term.  By combining the traditional informational interview with a lunch meeting and targeted questions, the networking process becomes easier and more comfortable for interns over time, helping sustain professional communities and inspire college students to chase their aspirations.

Week Seven: Casual Networking and Making Connections

One of the most important factors in getting a job and staying abreast of current trends in the field is networking.  This fact is not lost on college career centers, internship programs, and parents, who all do their part to ensure that we as interns are using our time in the “real world” wisely by making new and potentially helpful connections for the future.

Unfortunately, many college students do not know how to network.  Maybe the result of indifference, maybe a lack of effective career education, and maybe a feeling of futility leads most interns to not take full advantage of the vast variety of human resources around them.  Networking can definitely be tough, but I have found that the best place to start is not necessarily with supervisors and permanent employees.  Rather, some of my most influential and informative connections are with fellow interns.

I am fortunate in many ways because I am part of a larger group of interns under the same program.  This is extremely helpful for a few reasons.  First, it gives me a way (or an excuse, call it what you will) to create and maintain connections with a large group of people with similar interests and career aspirations to my own.  This connection with other students is valuable both as a sounding board for ideas and professional anxieties, and as a potential web of future professional contacts.

In the same breath, the group is also quite diverse in their interests, backgrounds, and specialties.  In my specific instance, the Junior Fellows group represents the wide spectrum of divisions within the Library of Congress and, more broadly, the professional field at large.  Aside from representing multiple universities in the United States, many of my fellow interns come from Library Science and Information Science graduate programs across the country.  I have already spoken to many of my comrades about their graduate school experiences, which enlightened my understanding of Master’s programs in my field of interest.

Having a large group with which you are innately connected can be quite helpful.  However, it is not the only way to connect with interns with similar interests and aspirations.  While in Washington, I am residing at one of the many universities that offer summer housing for interns.  While cooking dinner one night, I met another intern on my floor who is working towards dual Master’s of Library Science and Juris Doctorate degrees.  Elevator rides introduced me to interns working in the nonprofit sector, and I room with an intern working on Capitol Hill.  All of these opportunities for networking help open new doors, widening the chances of professional growth and success.

Networking can be difficult, especially for those new to the process of interning.  While established professionals are invaluable in networking, it is quite intimidating to initiate such a connection.  As a starting-off point, then, try connecting with fellow interns and students in your area.  Besides providing comfort with the networking process, it will create a garden of pre-professional contacts that might just teach you a thing or two about yourself.

Week Five: Broad Exposure

Undeniably, one of the most important parts of any internship is the experience of working in the real world.  Luckily, exposure to multiple divisions and organizations within the Library of Congress shows me the different cultures, missions, and jobs present within my field.  As I pass the half-way mark of my time at the Library, I reflect on my lessons thus far.

One of the most beneficial aspects of the Junior Fellow position, in my opinion, is the freedom and ability to tour various divisions of the Library.  The Library is segmented into numerous branches, which each contain multiple divisions specializing in various roles within the repository.  Interns at the Library are given various opportunities throughout their tenure to tour and explore these divisions.  Apart from seeing the physical location of different service groups, tours connect interns with professionals with varying duties within each division, highlighting both the jobs and missions of each organization.

As an example of this, I recently toured the offices of the Congressional Research Service (CRS), which serves as the objective research group serving only the Congress and its staff.  During my half-day experience at CRS, I heard from a panel of employees that included a policy analyst, a legal analyst, and an information professional (who serves in a capacity similar to a reference librarian).  Explanations of their duties, as well as the Q&A session that followed, depicted the multifaceted responsibilities of this single division within the greater Library hierarchy.  Hearing from multiple professionals highlighted how different specialists all work towards the same overall missions, and showed how I might or might not fit in with that specific division.

Apart from focusing career aspirations, tours highlight the many collaborative connections within the Library.  This became apparent while touring the Preservation, Research, and Testing Division (PRTD) – part of the larger Preservation Directorate, which helps battle the impact of age on Library collections.  The experimental and analytic work of PRTD connects with every other division in the Library.  Their research on the degradation of optical discs over time correlates directly with my work with digital migration from optical media to long-term preservation servers.  Even though I will most likely never end up in a preservation unit due to my phobia of advanced chemistry, my tour at PRTD expanded my understanding of my own work.  The tour also showed me how chemists, archivists, processing technicians, and reference librarians all collaborate to ensure the continued survival of analog and digital information.

Even though I only intern for one division, tours and information sessions have connected me with numerous other Library service groups.  Through these experiences, I am learning more about the Library at large and my own career aspirations, improving my internship and influencing my own goals for the future.

Week Three: Learning More Than Just Office Skills

Very few people intern so that they can learn more about history and life.  This is not surprising, as the large majority of internships do not claim to impart anything but practical office skills.  Luckily, my internship is exposing me to a lot more, both in terms of professional abilities and life lessons.  I want to focus on the latter for today’s post.

As I explain in my About page, I am working as a Junior Fellow with the Veterans History Project (VHP), an arm of the American Folklife Center that collects and preserves the individual narratives of our nation’s veterans.  VHP focuses most intently on collecting oral history interviews in various forms, so that future generations can learn about war first-hand, even after our nation’s veterans are no longer with us.  Part of my job is to update catalog entries for various collections.  This means that I am exposed to the stories of hundreds of veterans and war-serving civilians, which span from WWII to the present.

The first lesson that I learned – one which took more time than you might imagine – is that these people are all real individuals.  It is easy, when reading about someone in a newspaper, to forget that behind every name is a family, friends, a career, and life plans.  It is easy to forget, when seeing death statistics or MIA numbers, that those are people.  It’s important not to forget that.

The second lesson I have learned, however, is the more important one.  War is real.  Again, it’s easy to read about events like D-Day, the Fall of Saigon, and the storming of Taliban camps in the Middle East.  It is much harder, by far, to place yourself in the shoes of those brave men and women fighting those battles.

Many of the stories I hear from veterans are not dissimilar from what the public often hears when talking to family members or friends who have served.  Humorous stories, the singular shock of basic training, and camaraderie among soldiers are common aspects of oral history interviews with veterans.

However, as most people have read, this is not the whole of war.  In between these funny stories and anecdotes, I have heard more.

A plaque depicting a field hospital at the World War II memorial.

A plaque depicting a field hospital at the World War II memorial.

I have heard World War II veterans break down in tears when describing their roles in liberating concentration camps.  Describing the horrors of storming the beaches during D-Day, of watching friends perish, of rescuing wounded and dying allies.

I have heard Korean War veterans describe the terror of firefights during the night.  Nurses who flew wounded soldiers to evacuation hospitals describing the helpless feeling felt in the face of the constant waves of the sick and dying.

The statues of the Korean War memorial, set among the rugged terrain of juniper bushes.

The statues of the Korean War memorial, set among the rugged terrain of juniper bushes.

I have heard Vietnam War veterans describe the danger of guerrilla warfare in the jungles.  Discussing the constant worry of enemy engagement beyond the next cluster of trees, and the pain of discrimination they felt when they returned home.

I have heard Gulf War veterans recall the sound of roadside bombs detonating, and remembering the cries of young and wounded comrades.

I have heard this, and I have heard much more.  These stories come from our nation’s veterans.  Man and woman.  Of all races.  Of all religions.  Of all branches of service.  Of all duties, from airman to medic.  It has shook me.  I have had to step away from my work to recollect myself.  And even with these first-hand accounts, I can still only imagine – and incompletely at best – what life was like for these veterans.

The World War II memorial, an encompassing oval set between the Washington Monument and the Reflecting Pool.

The World War II memorial, an encompassing oval set between the Washington Monument and the Reflecting Pool.

With these accounts in my mind, I set out on Flag Day to visit some of Washington’s war memorials.  Walking through the Vietnam Veterans memorial, I got a sense of the true scale and cost of war.  The structure, which carves into the earth, reminded me of the weight of the experiences of war and discrimination faced by veterans of the Vietnam War.  The arrangement of the Korean War memorial recalled in my mind images of rugged and confusing terrain, and the larger-than-life statues reminded me of the cooperation of various military forces during the conflict.  The all-encompassing World War II memorial, set between the reflecting pool and the Washington Monument, reminded me of the united effort of the entire United States in opposing Axis tyranny.

The Vietnam Veterans memorial, which slices into the ground.

The Vietnam Veterans memorial, which slices into the ground.

These memorials mean more to me now, because of my internship.  When applying for my internship, I was not fully aware of the impact it would have on me.  Aside from the incredible experience in archival and preservation work that I am getting, I learn a lot about our nation’s history.  My internship opens my eyes to the world around me.  I truly believe that any internship can have a similar effect on someone.  During internships, I urge you to seek more than just the professional experience.  Look outside the box of “career skills,” and you may be surprised by what you find.

Week Two: Exploring and Evacuating

Internships, apart from providing enormous opportunities for professional and personal growth, open many doors that simply are not accessible during a standard school year.  Even when interning on your college campus, the wealth of free time available during the summer on nights and weekends allows for a lot of exploring, which is not always feasible when a big paper is drawing near.  Being in a new place makes the exploring and discovering your surroundings even more important, as there is no telling when you will return or how long you will have to look around.

My favorite method of exploring and discovering is best termed as “controlled wandering.”  When I want to get to know an area – a neighborhood, say, or a large park – I will just allow myself to walk around with no intended destination.  As I walk, I try to plot my route and situate myself near known landmarks, so that I can return if and when I want to.  This is precisely what I did on Saturday morning, as I set out early morning to explore Capitol Hill.

Pushkin and his golden winged horse.  I'm not entirely sure what the horse is all about, but birds seemed to love the shiny perch!

Pushkin and a golden winged horse. I’m not entirely sure what the horse is all about, but birds seemed to love the shiny perch!

My first major discovery occurred on my walk to the Metro stop, when I discovered a small garden sitting area with a statue of Russian poet and duelist Alexander Pushkin.  The tiny shaded park, popular with finches and office workers on lunch break, seems like a great place for outside reading and people-watching, and so I made a mental note of it’s location and moved on towards the Metro.

A gigantic collection of very rare stamps on display at the SI National Postal Museum.

A gigantic collection of very rare stamps on display at the SI National Postal Museum.

After transferring at the well-know L’Enfant Plaza (which I still cannot properly pronounce), I got off at Union Station, a large and impressive stop for all of Washington’s channels of public transit.  Just a hop, skip, and jump away from the Massachusetts Avenue exit is the Smithsonian National Postal Museum.  While definitely one of the smaller Smithsonian museums, the Postal Museum is great for a full morning of exploration.  Just a short walk off the National Mall, the Postal Museum is also not too crowded on the weekends, and has exhibits that would interest everyone from transportation enthusiasts to politics aficionados to architecture fans.

The ceiling of the entrance lobby of the National Postal Museum, a prime example of 19th and 20th century American  architecture.

The ceiling of the entrance lobby of the National Postal Museum, a prime example of 19th and 20th century American architecture.

After a quick lunch over in the food court at Union Station, I began what was at first an uneventful stroll over to the Capitol Building.  Walking by a wedding party taking photos in front of the fountains to the side of the Capitol, I made my way up the hill and to the front of the building to take in the sweeping views and iconic architecture.

The U.S. Capitol Building from the Delaware Avenue side.

The U.S. Capitol Building from the Delaware Avenue side.

Moving on past throbbing crowds of tourists trying to enter the Capitol, I made my way across the street to see the outside of the Supreme Court Building.  After a quick photo shoot, I made my way to the front of the Jefferson Building of the Library of Congress.  Despite working at the LC, I had not yet explored the outside of the building.

The United States Supreme Court, facing the Capitol Building.

The United States Supreme Court, facing the Capitol Building.

While admiring some of the busts near the windows of the Jefferson Building, my peaceful stroll turned into anything but.  After hearing an office yell AIRCON RED, panic ensued in a large crowd of tourists crowded near the steps of the building.  Capitol police ordered everyone to evacuate the area, pushing the crowds back to 4th street, which is past the Library of Congress’s campus and near Eastern Market.

A map of Capitol Hill, highlighting the location of the Capitol in relation to the Supreme Court Building and the Library of Congress. Image courtesy of tibetlobbyday.us.

During the evacuation, tourists were notably confused and concerned.  After the excitement of running down the street away from Capitol Hill subsided, I decided to make my way back home.  As I was entering the Metro station, my exploring almost over, I received one parting gift from Capitol Hill, a wonderful “good luck charm” from an overhead pigeon.

One of the corners of the Jefferson Building, Library of Congress.

One of the corners of the Jefferson Building, Library of Congress.

It was not until I got back to my room and washed off that I discovered the cause of the evacuation on Capitol Hill: an unidentified aircraft in Washington’s airspace.  Although it cut my exploring support, the evacuation reminded me how important safety is during any kind of strolling, no matter how safe the area seems.

In the face of seemingly endless free time, it is tempting to stay inside all day and relax.  However, the discoveries made when exploring – as well as other kinds of unexpected excitement – can really make a day, and make memories.  So fight the urge to lay around, get outside, and explore!

Week One: New and Shiny

Orientations are a fact of life which never truly bothered me.  In fact – and this might come as a surprise to some – I often find orientations helpful, especially when immersed in a new setting.  For internships, orientation day (and all of your training) is not just helpful in the immediate weeks of your assignment, but in the years afterwards.  Let me explain.

All internship programs, like the Junior Fellows program at the Library of Congress, have different layers of value.  On the lowest level, they give you something fun to do during an otherwise interminable summer.  While having an internship on your resume in place of a job at the local movie theater is a benefit in the short term, it really is not terribly helpful after your first job.  This is the kind of short-term and immediate value that draws some students to internships.

Some of my orientation materials!

Some of my orientation materials!

More important in my view are the additional benefits, or layers, that internships can provide.  Summer positions help you learn new skills that can’t be mastered in the college classroom.  They provide you with hands-on experience in the real world, translating your academic work into tangible results.  Internships also connect you with industry professionals and other interns, expanding networking opportunities and exposing you to new perspectives.  These layers – skills, experience, and connections – are some of the long-term benefits of interning, no matter the industry or field of study.

Orientation is a huge part of the internship experience, and acquainting you to the rules and expectations of the institution is only one layer of the process.  In addition to sitting through safety demonstrations and timekeeping instructions, I have learned multiple new computer programs and the theoretical underpinnings behind them, which will help me complete my work at the Library while broadening my professional capabilities.  Talks and tours are more than a fun exercise: they place me in the chronology of the Library, explaining my impact and showing how my academic interests translate to the real world.  All the while, I’m making friends with the other fellows and full-time employees, forming professional and personal connections with a whole slew of welcoming and engaging people I would not have met otherwise.

A book on the history of the Library of Congress, generously gifted to me by the author, John Cole.

A book on the history of the Library of Congress, generously gifted to me by the author, John Cole.

Internships are new and shiny at first.  The contemporary experience is fresh, fun, and inviting.  A good internship is more than that, providing long-lasting value that helps you personally and professionally for years to come.  While just “doing something” during the summer is valuable in the here-and-now, the skills, experience, and connections developed during an internship create long-lasting and durable value that remains, even once the “new and shiny” disappears.

Week Zero: What to Expect Before Starting Your Internship

Starting a summer internship is fun and exciting, taking you into the real world and letting you explore future job possibilities.  Often, summer internships take you to new and unfamiliar cities, and can push you out of your comfort zone.  However, the “unknown” that often surrounds summer internships can be nerve-wracking, especially in the days and weeks before the internship starts.  Below, I have outlined my own pre-internship activities, which helped relieve some of the stress and anxiety of living and working in an unfamiliar location.

Preparing for a summer internship starts before you have completed your spring classes.  Getting the position of your dreams is only the first step of the journey!  While still on campus, be sure to inquire about how your college can help support you during the summer.  

Dickinson College Career Center. Your college's Career Center and Internship Coordinator can help find internships and grants!  Photo courtesy of Dickinson College Archives.

Dickinson College Career Center.
Your college’s Career Center and Internship Coordinator can help find internships and grants! Photo courtesy of Dickinson College Archives.

Many colleges, including Dickinson, have some way of having internships formally recognized by academic departments and listed on transcripts.  These programs often have essay and other reflective components, helping you establish and work towards your own goals during the summer.  Your college may even push you to interact with your fellow interns and your supervisors in ways you might not have thought, which can really improve your interning experience!

Many internships nowadays are unpaid, which can make living on your own financially difficult.  Even when a position is paid, the costs of food, transportation, and housing can often suck your budget dry.  Some colleges and universities have internship grants to help support students through the summer, and these can be a great help.  My summer internship experience is being supported by Dickinson College’s Internship Grant, provided through the generosity of the Jacobs Family Internship Fund.  Grant funding helps you focus less on how you are going to afford to get to work or eat, and more on the wonderful experiences of interning.

Finding housing for your summer internship can be difficult, especially when moving to a new city.  Two of the most popular options for summer housing are subleasing and staying on university campuses.  There are many websites dedicated to finding subleases, including Craigslist and AirBnB.  I personally prefer staying in university dormitories, which are often close to public transit, restaurants, and stores.  A quick Google search can easily uncover tons of university and third-party intern housing options.

Purchasing food and supplies is often easier and cheaper than hauling it from home! Convenience and grocery stores abound in big cities!

Purchasing food and supplies is often easier and cheaper than hauling it from home! Convenience and grocery stores abound in big cities!

Your packing is often predicated on what is provided at your housing, and what you need for your internship.  For instance, I had to bring some cooking tools and bed linens with me because my university housing does not provide these items, but a subleased apartment may already be fully stocked.  Be sure you have enough clothes to last you through the summer, and always remember toiletries, medications, and other essentials!  Especially if you are taking public transit or flying, however, it may just be easier to buy cheap supplies when you arrive, instead of lugging them down the East Coast (my first big mistake!).

Once you arrive, be sure to walk around your host neighborhood and explore!  Find places to eat, shop, and relax, as well as nearby public transit stops.  If you have the time and ability, it is also quite helpful to take a “dry run” trip to your internship site, just so you are sure where you are going!

Explore your city, find the "hot spots" of activity, and make yourself at home!

Explore your city, find the “hot spots” of activity, and make yourself at home!

Do not let a fear of the unknown hold you back from having the time of your life during a summer internship!  With proper planning and preparation, your intern experience will be an informative and fun time that you will remember for years to come!