Eight Bonuses I Didn’t Expect From Doing an Internship

iStudent Blog

Published: October 8, 2018 by Priscilla Ameneyro

I’m sure you already know internships are a great way to build valuable work experience while earning credits towards your degree. I was fortunate enough to participate in two internships, one at the Crocker Art Museum in Sacramento, CA, followed by a summer internship at the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art.

I knew I wanted to do at least one internship during my time at the iSchool because I didn’t have any LIS related work experience. My goals going into both of the internships were to build my knowledge as much as I could and make a good impression! I think I achieved both, but what I also found was that the internship experience was more rewarding than I ever thought it would be. In this blog post I share the eight unexpected surprises I had to hopefully encourage more iSchool students to do an internship of their own. 

1. I got to learn about the organization
One aspect of my internships that I really enjoyed was getting to learn about the two museums I was working in. As someone who is interested in art and loves museums, getting to go behind-the-scenes was a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. I learned about the history of the museum, met the people that run the museum and got a deeper understanding of how a museum operates. This all gave me a better sense of how the library and archives fit into the overall structure of the organization.

2. I made friends, as well as professional contacts
I met some truly wonderful and talented people during my internships. As I mentioned, I wanted to make a good impression to build my network and hopefully have someone that would be willing to vouch for me when I went for a job. I now have several people I can use as references, but I also have new friends that I’ll keep in touch with and visit. You may even find someone who is willing to be your mentor.

3. It made me think about what I want
I think doing more than one internship is really valuable because you can compare different environments and types of jobs. For example, the Crocker Art Museum is a lot smaller than SFMOMA. You can also do informational interviews with the people that work there to gain insights into different roles. Now’s the time to explore different career paths before you graduate and start your job hunt!

4. I gained unexpected knowledge
At the Crocker, I developed a finding aid for an archival collection. Combing through the materials and conducting research, I got to learn about early California art. At SFMOMA, I cataloged files of Northern California gallery ephemera and increased my knowledge of artists and galleries in the Bay Area.

5. I got to be a fly on the wall
At the same time, I was doing my internship at the Crocker, I was taking INFO 210, Reference and Information Services. It was great to observe the librarian conducting reference interviews. I also spent time with the staff at SFMOMA finding out what their specific responsibilities are.

6. I did more than make coffee and photocopies
I knew going into it that I wasn’t going to be doing the typical intern drudgery work. If it’s approved in the internship database, that means you’ll be doing meaningful work. However, I was surprised at how impactful my projects were and that felt really good! The finding aid I produced for the Crocker helped bring greater visibility to the archival collection and I also increased access to the four hundred or so gallery files I processed at SFMOMA (pictured left).

7. I felt like a valued member of the team
I didn’t expect to be integrated into the team and the organization as much as I was. I attended team meetings and was included on email communications, which made the experience even more enjoyable. I was even recognized and thanked for the work I did by members of upper leadership.

8. Free stuff!
On the first day of my SFMOMA internship, I was presented with an SFMOMA mug, a notebook, a book about careers in museums and two free tickets to the museum! I was free to explore the Crocker on the days I signed in to the visitor book as an intern and the librarian thanked me with some guest passes at the end of my time there which was a pleasant surprise.

Even if your work schedule or personal commitments make it hard to do an in-person internship, there are many virtual opportunities available that are more flexible; check out the iSchool’s internship database for the latest openings. If you don’t find anything that appeals to you, take a look at my post on creating your own. Hopefully, I’ve convinced you that doing an internship is non-negotiable! It’s an experience you can’t afford to miss out on.

Read about other students’ internship experiences:
Hands-On MARA Opportunities Give Anna Maloney Tools to Succeed in Records Management
Multiple iSchool Internships Are Key to Student’s Career Pathway Choices
Why Plan For an Internship?
How my Internship Strategy Paid Off

Internship image courtesy of the author
Photo courtesy of Megan Ocampo