Interning with the Smithsonian: Update 1

In the absence of recent posts to this blog/portfolio/record of work, I have been developing, organizing, and finalizing the last component of my graduate certificate program at George Mason University (GMU): a virtual internship opportunity at the Smithsonian Institute (SI)! It took some time to find an available department division (known as a “working unit” at SI), which caused a delay in getting started with my required hour amount (360 in total), but things are on track and I am pleased to report some progress for any of my trusted followers.

I began my internship on September 28th as a Collections Information Assistant in the working unit…National Museum of the American Indian (NMAI)!! I am grateful as this was my desired unit to work with for my internship. I am specifically assigned to the Collections Research & Documents department and my internship mentor is the amazing Dr. Anya Montiel, Curator of the American and Native American Women’s Art and Craft. At this point, I am now a couple weeks into my internship and I have things to report on.

As I went into this internship, I was informed that I would be assisting with laying the groundwork for a digital project coming up in April 2021. The NMAI wants to hold a Wiki Edit-A-Thon in where the participants target page entries for Native American women (poets, musicians, activists, politicians, etc.). The goal is to develop the existing profiles and create new ones for individuals who lack a page. My job has several aspects:

  1. Investigate how to organize an edit-a-thon by finding experiences persons, guides, and building upon past experiences;
  2. Locate potential participants for this event, including Tribal organizations/communities/colleges; and
  3. Work with NMAI staff to research and develop content for the participants that will be used for updating and creating profile entries.

There are a couple other peripheral items, but the outline duties are the thrust of my job. While I have started to work on these tasks this past week, the last two weeks in general have largely been filled with training, orientation, and professional development. Besides the main orientation offered to all incoming NMAI interns, I had to be training on cyber security, ergonomics, and the prevention of workplace harassment. Additionally, I have received an orientation for both the library resources and the archival/collection tools of the SI. These have gone a long way in preparing me to utilize their resources for the research I need to conduct as part of my main project.

I have also had two meetings with my mentor, Dr. Montiel. Her and I have gotten along very well each other so far and she is quite knowledgeable in many of the areas I have existing interests in, such as American Indian histories and cultures. She also has an extensive background in the arts, which has been an area that I’ve had an interest in, but have neglected to really get into. So I find that this will be beneficial for me beyond the application of the skills I learned at GMU and their development during this internship. Dr. Montiel is also opening up the door for me to explore other opportunities while I am interning at NMAI, such as the potential to author some blog posts for our working unit.

As we progress further into the year, I hope to report on more exciting things, which are very likely to follow once I’ve completed all my required trainings and orientations!

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