My internship at the Smithsonian formally ended on May 5th, 2017. I was able to meet with my supervisor and hand in all work associated with the project I had been working on. I not only completed the tasks expected of me, I created a new network of contacts within the Smithsonian. I was pleased with the entire experience and I am grateful for the lessons learned.
The fundamental lesson learned during this experience was applying digital humanity principles to real world governmental and historical work. As an employee at the National Archives, I utilize the functions of the digital humanities, but the openness of my Smithsonian project allowed for me to experiment with my creativity. Equally important, I used lessons learned from the metadata modules to help my organization skills, whereas I was able to create metadata for disseminating digital information.
The thing I enjoyed most about the internship was the people. My supervisor from the very start was friendly and I felt comfortable going to her with questions and ideas. I also worked with a small team of Smithsonian staff and interns, all of whom were interesting people. Conversely, I did not experience any ‘bad’ parts of the internship. I believe my work load was fair, and I was lucky to have a project I was interested in.
This experience as a whole was helpful for my work at the National Archives. Because of the creativity allowed for by the Smithsonian, I was able to experiment and manipulate ideas for digital archiving while working on the internship. Work such as that at the National Archives is functional, but perhaps not always practical while on the clock. I was happy to take principles that I learned from the Smithsonian and bring them into my everyday work.
The work for the internship itself was done under a mixture of experiences at the National Archives, but also during the module coursework of the Digital Humanities Program. Most importantly, as I stated above, the modules on metadata helped me wrap my mind around how we organize data. Having the “data about data” lesson and the Omeka project were essential for me taking coursework and applying it to real world work. The coursework did not necessarily prepare me for the internship, as my tasks were not comparable to the projects within the modules. However, having done the modules, I was able to think more outside the box when it came to internship project direction. Had I jumped into the internship first, I would not have been as confident as a student to the digital humanities.
My understanding of the digital humanities as a whole has increased since the internship. I do many functions of the digital humanities in my everyday work, but the internship allowed for me to practice these skills and refine them.
Altogether, I found the internship fun and practical. It was more enriching than the module work because it was real-world based, but the modules were needed for a complete understanding of digital humanities. While many of the module tasks felt repetitive and mundane, the internship offered a more interesting angle into the work of digital humanists. I understood the point of having module coursework, but the internship definitely acted as the piece that tied the program together. Coupled by the fact that my supervisor was fun and supportive, my entire experience was a positive one.