Anna Maloney Internship Profile
Published: March 29, 2016 by Anna Maloney
Exploring at Badlands National Park in Interior, South Dakota
Hello, everyone! This academic year, I have had the pleasure to serve as the MARA student assistant, with responsibilities including working on the jobs analysis and sharing content on the student blog and Facebook page. While the position is not a traditional archiving or records management position, it has introduced me to various tasks that a RIM professional may perform. However, I have been fortunate enough to have had several internships in archives and records management, and I’m going to use this platform to talk about the most transformative: a records management internship with the National Park Service.
From January to May 2015, I served as a records management intern for the National Park Service Midwest Regional Office. I learned about the internship, which was sponsored by the National Council for Preservation Education (NCPE), through a library jobs listserv. NCPE hosts internships at National Park Service sites across the country, with focuses ranging from archives to museum registration to community engagement. The application process was fairly involved, requiring a résumé, an essay, and several references. Within a couple of months I received a call from the internship site at the Midwest Regional Office and was offered the position at the end of the initial phone interview. I had a little more than two months to prepare to move over 700 miles from Cincinnati, Ohio to Omaha, Nebraska.
At the start of my internship, my supervisor, a staff curator and museum registrar in the Cultural Resources Division, outlined the tasks that I would be working on for the next five months: developing a new organizational structure for the on-site records; rehousing two park collections that had been exposed to water and other poor environmental conditions; preparing a records group for transfer to NARA; developing a records survey to identify needs and opportunities at the Midwest Regional Office; writing a digital preservation plan; and various routine maintenance tasks. I even got to travel to two parks for a week (Mississippi National Recreational River and Niobrara Scenic River)—they definitely kept me busy!
For me, there is twofold enjoyment in archival work. I was drawn to the field because of my fascination with original, source material and the stories that it tells. Reading about the parks in the Midwest Region, particularly oral history transcripts and archaeological artifacts, taught me a lot about federal preservation efforts. But I also found fulfillment in transforming boxes of seemingly random records into a usable collection of materials, and providing reference to my coworkers in Cultural Resources.
At the time of the internship, I was only in my second semester of the MARA program. I had taken MARA 200 (The Record and Recordkeeping Professions) and MARA 204 (Management of Records and Archival Institutions). These courses introduced me to the theories and challenges of records management, a knowledge base that was critical to successfully assessing needs and completing projects at the National Park Service. While I was unable to use this internship as credit for MARA 294, it was a wonderful learning experience that was worth more than course credit. I recommend that MARA students take advantage of as many internship and professional opportunities as possible—whether they are down the street or across the country.
The finished product at Mississippi National Recreational River in Yankton, South Dakota