This summer I had the opportunity to intern at the Rockefeller Archive Center. Going into this internship, I had no experience in archives or archival work, but that drew me to this organization. Not only that but, when I found out that I would have the chance to come on-site, my first reaction was “finally.” After two years of remote work and school, one could only imagine my excitement.
When I first started, I was under the impression that there would already be a set task that I would be performing until the end of my internship, but I was given a choice from the start. During one of the Research and Education team meetings, there was a discussion about a social media project that sparked my interest. I did not know whether to bring it up, but I ended up expressing my curiosity and was immediately brought onto the project. I took the lead on creating a social media post for the Rockefeller Archive Center and was able to learn more about the workflow and engaging different audiences. Never would I have thought I would have the opportunity to create an Instagram post as part of my internship experience.
The two main projects I worked on this summer were the Research and Education files inventory and the Culturally Competent Description Subjects Alternatives Project. I was not as intimidated by the inventory project because I am accustomed to Excel. What was new and exciting to me was handling the physical records and being able to go through the documents and ask questions about anything I found interesting. As for the Subject Alternatives project, to be honest, I was a bit overwhelmed when learning about the project scope. I have done research before for school and my previous internships, but this was different for me. The CCD team had flagged and compiled subjects that had some CCD concerns, and I described best solutions for fixing and implementing them. The Library of Congress and Homosaurus Vocabulary Site were extremely helpful resources. This project showed me that there should not be one solution or recommendation, and it is best to explore every option.
One of the most rewarding parts of this internship was seeing first-hand how the RAC supports creativity. While visiting Washington Irving Intermediate School it was so interesting to see students in elementary school writing up and presenting grants. Their ideas were unique and well thought out.
Before this summer, I was so sure of my next steps after completing my undergraduate degree. I had already selected my graduate program, but after the RAC 101s (staff-led sessions about different areas of archival work at the RAC) and all the hands-on experience, I am now reconsidering my plan.
I am grateful that I chose to apply to this internship program instead of just applying to other programs I thought would better match my goals related to political science and international relations. The RAC has given me a new understanding of what I am interested in and want to pursue career-wise. I am now reconsidering my plan, and instead will continue to explore archives, and for that reason, I am forever appreciative.