April 23, 2014

Getting an internship working in a museum or archives

With summer coming up, an archivist in New England lays out what he looks for when he hires an intern.  Great tips, including the one thing that will take your resume to "the top of the pile."

  • Resume—"The resume is important, but if someone has some experience in museums and archives along with something outside the fGetting a summer internshipield I'll give it a look."
  • Cover letters—"I read those with a fine-toothed comb looking for reasons not to take someone on.  For me, a cover letter with spelling or grammatical errors is a sign that the person is not detail-oriented.  I work in an archive that requires a lot  of attention to detail, and if someone can't do that in a cover letter, then they won't be able to write a finding aid or exhibit label.  I've learned that from experience."
  • Well-rounded—"I tend to look for well-rounded interns.  They need to be able to work with patrons, do exhibits, handle archival material and be willing to learn. . . . I'm the only person in my department, so I do everything, and that has helped me land many of my public history jobs over the years. Though I'm an archivist, I have experience that would allow me to work at just about any institution."
  • Cursive—"I really prefer someone who can read and write cursive. With texting and computers, it is hard tofind interns who can read cursive. I have hundreds of letters and journals that are written in cursive that I can read because I can write in cursive, but many interns can't.  If someone can read and write in cursive, then they get to the top of the pile."
  • Working independently—"The projects I assign or have an intern work on require them to be a self-starter who can work independently of what I'm doing."

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