Internships

"While the internship looks good on my resume for the field I want to pursue, it was more than that -- it taught me new skills and introduced me to new people as well as the inner workings of a governmental program and the issues associated with that."

Program of Study: Historic Preservation
Internship: Lost Towns Project
Location: Anne Arundel County, Maryland

Briefly describe your internship and your responsibilities as an intern.
The summer between my sophomore and junior year, I was an archaeologist with the Lost Towns Project, an archaeological research and public education program based in Anne Arundel County. Most of my time was spent in the field – mapping out new units, lots of digging, sifting the dirt looking for artifacts, drawing features and labeling provenience cards (describe what was found in each layer). There were a few days in the laboratory which consisted mostly of washing artifacts.

How did you find your internship?
The assistant county archaeologist, Jane Cox, who works at Lost Towns, came to speak to one of my classes my freshman year, and I found it so exciting, but I didn’t consider it an opportunity to get involved until I saw a letter from Lost Towns in front of another professor’s door a year later that was asking for interns. I knew I wanted to be in the Baltimore area for the summer and I thought this would be a great experience as well as an opportunity to make connections, and archaeology has always fascinated me.

What resources did you find particularly helpful in your internship search?
I found out about the program through a couple of my professors, and I followed through on it by myself after checking the website, and talking to my advisor about getting credit. The CDO was really helpful with creating a cover letter and a resume – I had no idea where to start and I needed both to apply and they helped tremendously.

Why did you choose your internship? What factored into your search and applying?
It really was a perfect internship for me – exactly what I wanted to try and I was able to get credit and I needed an internship for my major. I was excited so I applied in the middle of the spring semester so my plans were established early. I didn’t apply anywhere else once I found out I was going to be working there because I knew this was what I wanted!

What were you most apprehensive about going into your internship?
I think like most people, I was worried about lack of experience and knowledge. I had done a couple of little week-long archaeology digs, but nothing too serious and I didn’t remember anything. The internship coordinator scheduled an Education Day where all of the interns met for a day before we started in the field and they taught us the basics. It made me feel better because it put us all on the same page and realize everyone was as clueless as I was.

What did you hope to gain from your internship experience?
I had always been fascinated by archaeology – finding old objects and interpreting them just makes me so excited, but I wasn’t sure about it as a career. So it was an opportunity to learn about that, and I also wanted to learn about how archaeology and historic preservation were tied together. Of course, I also wanted to make connections for another possible internship or job.

How did your internship experience influence your academic and career interests/goals/plans?
During and after the internship I realized I don’t want a career solely archaeological based. It made me more than ever interested in the past, so I think it will be part of my life, but I think I want to work with existing structures and not do manual labor so often.

What were the most challenging aspects of your internship?
Leaving Goucher at 6:25 in the morning to go dig dirt for hours in the Maryland summer was tiring, but it was only two days a week so I had time to recover. Learning the different types of ceramics and noticing the different strata and so on was difficult because it was something so new, but the staff was patient and would train us as we went along. Everything was so hands on and we had readings outside of the field so we learned quickly.

What were most rewarding aspects of your internship?
I really liked the people I worked with – the other interns as well as the staff members. They actually asked me to come back during the fall semester and write architectural descriptions of historic houses in Anne Arundel County, which was another great experience. While the internship looks good on my resume for the field I want to pursue, it was more than that -- it taught me new skills and introduced me to new people as well as the inner workings of a governmental program and the issues associated with that.

Any funny/ embarrassing things happen during your internship?
Someone in my unit found a die, which was really exciting, and it got even more exciting when some of the staff members were rolling it and thought it was weighted. This was a big deal because the site we were working on was the home of a Quaker. Anyway, once it was washed, we found out the die said, “Made in Japan.”

How do you feel your internship prepared you for the real world?
It taught me the responsibilities of a real job, leaving home early to beat rush hour so I could arrive on time, and putting hard work into the internship because I knew I would need a reference and credit for my major, but also for the satisfaction of learning something new. I definitely had to learn to work with others, and there were indeed some characters but also friends that I still hang out with. There were a lot of people above me that I needed to know how casual and formal I could be with them as well.

What advice would you give to students to help them make the most of their internship experience?
Try to make the most of it. Just because it is an internship and not a Goucher class does not mean you shouldn’t learn and work hard in it, but of course still have fun and get to know the people you are working with. Finding the right internship is important, and the CDO or professors can help students with that.

Sally Gordon

  • Lost Towns Project
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