The blog series Interning at the Museum highlights the projects and accomplishments of the National Museum of the American Indian's interns. Each intern completes a 10-week internship in a department at one of the museum's three facilities—the museum on the National Mall in Washington, D.C.; Cultural Resources Center in Suitland, Maryland; or George Gustav Heye Center in New York City. The museum’s Internship Program offers sessions in the spring, summer, and fall. The next deadline for applications—for the spring 2016 session—is November 20, 2015. These interviews feature members of this year's recently completed summer session. —Sarah Frost
Tell us a little about yourself and your background.
My name is Emma Strongin, and I’m from Takoma Park, Maryland. I go to Rochester Institute of Technology and am majoring in media arts and technology (we like to call ourselves media architects because we “build, shape, and form media”) and hope to minor in philosophy, museum studies, or both.
What department did you intern in this summer, and what projects were you working on?
I spent the summer on the media staff at NMAI. I learned a lot about the webcasting process, which is something I knew nothing about prior to coming here. It’s been a great learning experience, and I had a lot of fun. I also did some digital archival work for old webcasts and helped out with the new mobile app tours here at the museum.
Why did you decide to intern at NMAI?
This was actually my third summer at NMAI. The first two were spent as a volunteer for conservation, and I also worked on digital archiving and various other volunteer-y tasks. Applying for an official internship seemed like the next logical step—especially since I love working at the museum—and since I just finished my first year in a media-based major, I thought I would try out a new area that matched up with what I was studying at school.
What was your favorite aspect of your internship?
My favorite part of my internship was definitely the lovely community of people here, the wonderful events and exhibits, and the opportunity to learn in a real-world setting.
What have you learned and what do you hope to achieve because of this internship?
As I mentioned, I spent a lot of time on webcasts this summer. Before coming here, I had no idea what a webcast was or how they even worked. I really enjoyed using the internet and technology to share what’s going on at the museum with people around the world. This is especially important for a museum like NMAI, because we are so focused on the Native community. People aren’t always able to make it to the museum for festivals and events, so we make it possible for them to stay involved from wherever they happen to be.
How has interning helped you understand your own cultural interests?
I am not Native, but interning here has definitely helped me gain a whole new level of understanding and respect for the cultural practices of others. People here are so proud of their various heritages, and I think that’s a truly wonderful thing.
Do you have advice for aspiring interns?
I think it’s important to note that there is a place here for everyone. No matter what your major, interest, hobby, etc., the museum has a place for you to help out and learn. Also, as a lifelong resident of the DC area, I think spending the summer here is a great thing (aside from the weather). There is so much to do at this museum and in the surrounding areas that you’re pretty much guaranteed to have an amazing work life and social life.
Interviewer Sarah Frost spent her summer internship at the museum as a member of the Web staff, helping launch the Inka Road website and other new projects online and in social media. She is continuing to work on the museum's digital projects this fall.
Photo courtesy of Emma Strongin; used with permission.