“There is nothing like returning to a place that remains unchanged to find the ways in which you yourself have altered.” – Nelson Mandela

The first real reflection of my time in DC was in reference to both the mundane aspects of being in a new place as well as it documented some of the exciting experiences I’ve been grateful to have as an intern. It took until the second week of my internship to understand how long it takes to get ready, ride the metro, and arrive at the National Mall in time for the shuttle. That same week, I got to look at the repatriation collections which, even with all that I’ve done since, is still a favorite moment. Repatriation is an important part of museum practice. It’s not often that people who aren’t directly associated with the process get a chance to learn and see what I had the opportunity to do that afternoon.  

Moving into week three, I was coming out of the “new” phase at my internship. I was really applying the specific skills and technicalities I’d been absorbing as I was being shown the processes in the department. I also better understood the value of “doing your homework” on the material. While it was a lesson that’s been ingrained in me since I can remember, I feel like the work I was doing was truly different after I was able to put in context. I’m now close to completing the cataloging project and I love the questions that I think of and patterns I make sure to note. The origin of these personal inquiries arose from gaining that important contextual knowledge as well as asking my advisor a TON of questions.

Learning about the site I was working on helped me hone in on my goals for my internship. In the next week, I described how my experiences thus far were going to help me improve my scholarly writing skills. I’ve continued to welcome articles from staff so that I can diversify my reading and have that translate eventually into what I write. Anthropology can like most fields be heavy with contention over research and writing styles and I enjoy reading things from across the spectrum of thought.

As time progressed, I became settled in my internship and quickly realized how wrapped up I had become in everything DC. I had to reign in my priorities and find a balance between what was going on with my internship and those in my near future. Though that realization wasn’t too long ago, I’ve taken that lesson and applied it to my free time. I’m sure to handle things that are immediate while also steadily knocking out priorities for grad school.

In my last reflection, I expressed how many must feel at this point in the program. It has gone by fast! I wanted to squeeze as much networking and experiences as I possibly could. I feel like I’m doing my best to fulfill those wishes. I was able to meet with someone who works directly in my region of interest at the museum. This was a huge step in building my network. Importantly, we spoke about opportunities that I can pursue in New York.

It’s hard to narrow done just one thing I learned in DC as “most important”. I definitely believe that the culmination of my experiences have been tremendously important to my growth as an individual, professional, and student. I feel like I’m unable to avoid a cliché when describing what I consider to be the best lesson learned. Ultimately, taking chances has provided me with the most development and opportunity. I learned how being forthcoming about my interests and studies has opened more doors for me than blindly sending my CV to professors and organizations. There have been many regular conversations in hallways or waiting for the shuttle that I have turned into networking sessions paralleled to those at conferences or lectures. I have been continually surprised at how willing and open people are in my field to interns. I’m glad that DC has shown me that starting those conversations despite sometimes feeling awkward or unsure can be incredibly rewarding.

 

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