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Museums & Collections Blog


News and musings from the UCL Culture team


The Intrigues of Interning

By Edmund Connolly, on 20 September 2012

guest blogger: Elyse Bailey (Intern at the Petrie Museum of Egyptian Archaeology)

Usually when the name “Intern” comes to mind, most people think of a young, determined student looking for future connections, more experience in their field of study, and a resume booster. That dreamy description is typically ruined by the thought that this brilliant student is stuck running dull errands, like coffee runs and standing by a photocopier for hours wondering why the clock isn’t going any faster. Even though I have only been with the Petrie Museum for 3-4 weeks, I still have yet to run into any horrifying experiences and hopefully I won’t, but you never know. The jobs that I have helped with thus far have been fairly relaxed tasks, but they’ve kept me quite busy. I’ve been assigned responsibilities from helping set up for a night event to copying the written archives into a word document. Nothing has taken me by surprise and nothing has been super overwhelming. But, what’s great about being assigned these tasks is that I feel like I’m getting the bigger picture as to how a museum operates and what people need to do in order to keep it standing. If I have learned anything so far, it’s that I really underestimated the skill set that people need in order to work at a museum.

Flinders Petrie, a face I am now quite used to!

I’ve also been quite lucky because I’ve been asked by my supervisor what I would like to get out of my internship before I leave. It was quite surprising that I was asked this because, after talking to my flat mates, they had to gather up the courage and ask their supervisor for a chat to go over their end goals. Most supervisors are happy to help you reach your goal, but you really need to think hard about what it might be. I’ve also realized that I need to brush up on simple skills like Microsoft Excel and how to use a big printer and by big I mean one of those photocopier/printers that you see in break rooms when you watch television shows. It’s huge and quite intimidating.
Personally, I’m having a rare experience when it comes to getting use to the “real adult working” world because not only am I adapting to a new job, but a new country as well. Back home, in Washington, DC, internships don’t differ much to the ones here. It’s smaller things like, a break for a cup of tea instead of four cups of black coffee and the keyboards are even a bit different. But, my point is that no matter where you are and no matter what subject you study, any internship is going to help you realize what you need to know for your future career. Any experience in the working world will help you better adjust when you are older. The shock of “Oh no, I don’t know how to make a simple spread sheet or how to use this photocopier” will vanish and you will have a clearer focus on your new career.

So, in the end, If I were to give any intern some advice before they go on and prosper in the world of adults (no matter what the subject) it would be to brush up on simple skills (i.e. computer applications), embrace change, and be sure to set an end goal regarding to what you would like to get out of your work experience.

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