Going into this internship at the Jewish Museum of Maryland (JMM), I was aware that there would be field trips and workshops included in the internship program. I knew this would be fun and helpful, but I did not realize how incredible it would be. Not all internship programs offer these development experiences, but I now think they are one of the most important learning experiences an internship can offer.
The JMM intern program this summer included workshops in marketing, project management, resumes and interviews. These were helpful in learning how these general career topics applied to museums specifically. They also helped the other interns and I get to know the JMM employees because a different employee would run the workshop each time.
Field trips were also a big part of my internship program this summer. Two of the places we visited were the Baltimore Museum of Industry and the National Federation of the Blind. These trips included discussions with employees and tours. Field trips are helpful in giving glimpses into the inner-workings of other institutions.
The interns also had the opportunity to participate in an annual JMM program called the Summer Teachers’ Institute. This was a three day program with lectures for two of the days and also a trip to the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum. I had never been there, so I’m glad I participated in that part of the program.
While trips and workshops shouldn’t be the sole decision maker in one’s internship search, they are an important thing to consider!
1. You’ll make new friends Your internship site will likely have more than just you as an intern, so this provides an opportunity to make new friends with peers who have the same career interests as you!
2. You’ll get real world experience
My current internship is not my first job, but there is always more to learn. Getting an internship will help you develop your work ethic, no matter how experienced you think you are.
3. Internship Grant program
Dickinson’s Career Center can help with extra costs associated with the internship through their Internship Grant progam. My grant is helping to me pay for gas for my commute to Baltimore three days a week.
4. Internship Notation Program
The Internship Notation Program through the Career Center gives you the opportunity to get your internship put onto your official transcript. It involves completing a few reflection assignments, but these are really the best part. The assignments force you to think about your experience and your career aspirations.
5. You’ll make connections
You’ll have the opportunity to chat with other professionals at your internship site. Connections like these can help you in the future getting a letter of recommendation.
6. Provides an air conditioned escape from the summer heat
Yes, office buildings are often quite chilly, but at least it is better than being in the blazing heat!
7. You’ll learn about your field of interest
This is the real gem in the internship experience, and oh yea, it is the entire point of an internship. You’ll learn the methods of your career of interest, and you’ll learn marketable skills that you can put on your resume.
8. You’ll learn more about yourself
This part depends on how much you put into it. If you make the best of your internship experience, you’ll figure out your strengths and weaknesses. This will help you decide what you want out of your future career.
This is my second internship, my first being last summer, and I have noticed a pattern in how I have felt as an intern throughout the summer.
The start of an internship can be scary, and it usually involves asking lots of questions. You don’t feel comfortable yet; you still feel new. You don’t know your fellow interns very well yet. This stage can be long, but don’t fret–it is a necessary step.
The middle (aka the “golden” moment):
I have noticed that there is a definite point in every intern’s experience where they notice that one feels comfortable. You ask an appropriate amount of questions, and you can complete tasks on your own. You finally feel like you know your fellow interns, and wow– you are all weird. Both weird in a goofy, unique, awesome way, but also a “one of us” weird. You are all obsessed with the industry you are interning in. This golden moment is key–it is instrumental in your learning experience. It means that you are truly learning about your internship industry and the tasks that you are doing. It is all about how comfortable you feel. One day, you just notice that you don’t worry about sounding stupid when asking questions, you don’t dread lunch small talk, and you enjoy the company of your fellow interns.
My internship this summer is not over yet, but last year “the end” was rewarding. You feel like you contributed to the organization, and your final feedback from your supervisor has possibly left you giddy with excitement. You may or not be exhausted from the long hours, but you are proud of the work you have accomplished.
The life cycle of an intern is short, but clearly defined. For this reason, it is important to notice these small moments of change in your internship experience.
A new exhibit has opened at the Jewish Museum of Maryland called Cinema Judaica. It consists solely of Jewish related movie posters, but it is actually really well put together. The marketing and collections interns (not me, I was working on other projects) made a stop motion video of us putting up the exhibit. The catch? It is with a small scale gallery model with legos as the interns. The video is exactly how we put up the exhibit, giant Ten Commandments poster and all. This poster is massive at 83″ x 83″. However, it adds visual appeal to the exhibit. The posters are a various sizes, so it isn’t just a room with pieces of colorful paper on the wall.
Yes, this post is about food, very good food. Interning at a Jewish Museum definitely has its perks. There is a practically historic Deli just around the corner from the museum called Attman’s Deli, and I went last week with one of my fellow interns! They have all of the classic Baltimore and Jewish deli food. They have bagels with lox, coddies, matzah ball soup, kugel, halva, jewish apple cake, and intense deli sandwiches. Here is the lunch I bought:
I had a shrimp salad sandwich on rye bread and a coddie with the classic mustard and cracker. It was magical, and it was a fun outing with another intern. I’ve really been enjoying getting to know the other interns, especially since we are all interested in museums.
Now here is where the Girl Scout Cookies come in–Lunch was ordered for the new Board Member orientation, and (lucky for me and the interns,) there were leftovers! The above picture shows the aftermath, but the table had been filled. There were bagels, lox, white fish, cheese, tomatoes, fruit salad, Girl Scout cookies (!), and danishes. Needless to say, this was one of the highlights of my day.
All this food talk does not mean I’m not enjoying the actual work I’m doing though. It has its ups and downs, but I’m enjoying it overall! I helped my supervisor finish the script and spreadsheet for the upcoming exhibit, and I’ve been working on loan requests. Learning about how an exhibit comes together makes you really appreciate it more and understand the message.
This week marked the official start of the internship program; I had started earlier than the other interns because I’m part time. The first two days were our orientation, which included presentations on safety, history of the museum, and future plans. We met most of the staff and went on a tour of the building. A docent took us on a tour of the campus, which includes two historic synagogues. We also had time to go through the exhibits by ourselves, and then had a discussion about them with the curator the following day. The collections manager took us down into the basement to show us around the collections and gave us an introduction to object handling.
After the second day of orientation, we were all invited to our internship coordinator’s house for dinner. Apparently the staff has these “Taco Tuesday” events frequently, so it is easy to see that the staff works well together. And of course I can’t resist a good taco; they were so good!
There are 7 interns total, and I have one other in the curatorial department with me. There is an interesting range of museum experience. There are 4 interns in grad school (one specifically in a museum studies program), one just graduated high school, I’m in my undergrad, and I’m not sure about the other intern. This allows me the opportunity to talk with the interns in grad school about their experiences. Talking with a museum professional about their career is much different than talking to a grad student going through the program at this very moment. Different perspectives on the same topic are always helpful when deciding what I want to do with my life…haha…
And one more thing–last year I was the only intern at the Howard County Historical Society, a very small organization. I was the only person under 40 years old! Having 6 other interns around me know is quite a change, but a good one at that! It allows me to learn so much from the people around me.
Next week will be my 4th week already at this internship!
At the Jewish Museum of Maryland, interns are supposed to be full time for 10 weeks. But I’m able to do part time for 14 weeks instead to accommodate my other part time job as well (got to make sure I have spending money for abroad!). So this means that I began interning two weeks before the other interns arrive! This is actually a blessing because I am able to create relationships with the museum employees that maybe would not have been as good if I had started with all the other interns. It gives me a leg up since the employees already know me! I also started at a perfect time for my supervisor, the curator, because the script for the upcoming exhibit is overdue! I have been able to help her organize the spreadsheets and documents needed that will be sent to the exhibit designer.
These documents are intense. The script is about 55 pages and the spreadsheet has about 550 rows! It is clear so a lot is going on in these. A dropbox folder is also used, so all 3 of these mediums need to be aligned! There is no easy way to do this, but I do oddly enjoy it. Each object, image, document, etc that will be in the exhibit must be represented correctly in the spreadsheet, script document, and the dropbox folder so that the designer can easily find everything.
I have also had the opportunity to sit in on a meeting with a handful of museum employees including the executive director, the curator, the collections manager, and a few others. They were meeting with the designer to work out a few things in the exhibit plans. After arriving 45 minutes late (my usual Baltimore exit was blocked, but I called my supervisor so it ended up being ok), I got to experience the common arguments that happen between curators and designers. Curators are perfectionists; they want everything in the exhibit to be perfect. However, the designer is also on a time crunch and cannot wait forever! It was fascinating to hear the employees discuss the exhibit and how it could improve. A common theme in the discussion was making sure the setting of each part of the exhibit would most accurately portray the narrative. For example, this exhibit (called Jews and Medicine) has a section that was originally going to be a genetics lab. However, it was decided that the lab setting was not consistent with the narrative that was trying to be conveyed. So, it will end up being more general and focused on the objects and images to tell the story unless something else is better.
The other interns arrive next week, so it will be interesting to see what kind of work environment forms!
The summer has begun and things are already in full swing. I am interning part-time at the Jewish Museum of Maryland, but I am also continuing my old job of working at a pool in my hometown. So this will be quite a busy, yet fulfilling summer! Last week I began my internship, and I have already learned so much from it. It is an exhibitions research internship with the curator of the museum, so I’ll be working on an upcoming exhibit called Beyond Chicken Soup: Jews and Medicine in America. The exhibit will examine the stereotype of jewish doctors by looking at how jews in America have been involved in the medical world. The first week at the internship was occupied by background reading on the exhibit to help me get up to date on what the exhibit is all about. This was exhausting but definitely a necessary evil. I read two documents about the exhibit–the script (about 20 pages) and the walk through (about 60 pages). These documents are used to maintain an organized narrative of what the exhibit will include. I have never read anything like this before, so it really gave me a sense of how exhibits are put together. It was the perfect introduction into what a curator does in this stage of the exhibit design process. Next week I’ll be sitting in on a meeting with the exhibit designer!