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September 01, 2015

Interning at the Museum: Abby Malkin, Information Technology Applications

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 


Abby Malkin during the interns' trip to meet with staff and tour the museum's George Gustav Heye Center in lower Manhattan. July 2015, New York City.

Tell us a little about yourself and your background. 

My name is Abby Malkin, I’m from Columbia, Maryland, and I am a senior at the University of Maryland. 

What department did you intern in, and what projects were you working on?

This summer I worked with IT applications, developing the museum's SharePoint sites, creating surveys and recording their results, collecting and analyzing data to create graphical displays, and working with the NMAI database. 

Why did you decide to intern at NMAI?

I’ve always been a huge fan of the Smithsonian because of the vast number of people it reaches and the wide variety of information it holds. Before coming to NMAI, I did not know very much about this particular museum aside from its breathtaking architecture and delicious café. I wanted to intern here to learn about the culture and story behind the museum, and to be a part of the inner workings of its operations. 

What is your favorite aspect of your internship?

My favorite part of the internship was definitely meeting so many new people. Everyone was extremely friendly and welcoming, each person had an interesting story and background. My supervisor, Beverly Lamberson, gave me so many opportunities to explore and so much freedom to learn.

What have you learned, and what do you hope to achieve because of this internship?

I have learned an incredible amount here in such a short time—for example, how to write a good project proposal, create an advanced survey, and update accounts in a database. Because of the wide range of projects I worked on, I was able to learn an assortment of skills that I hope to take advantage of in the future. 

How has interning helped you understand your own cultural interests?

By working for a summer at NMAI, I have found how important it is to connect with your ancestors. So much of Native culture is based on stories and traditions that took place years and years ago, yet have lived on through the generations. I have learned to hold strong to your culture and to never forget where you came from. 

Do you have advice for aspiring interns?

Never be afraid to ask too many questions. You’ll get the most out of your internship by being curious. 

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 will continue to work on the museum's digital projects this fall.

Photo courtesy of Abby Malkin; used with permission. 


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