Name: Ashlee Anstead
Class Year: 2021
Major: Classical and Near Eastern Archaeology
Hometown: Agoura Hills, Calif.
Internship Organization: Smithsonian National Anthropological Archives
Job Title: Archival Outreach and Reference Intern
Location: Remote (normally in Washington, D.C.)
What’s happening at your internship?
This summer I worked as an outreach and reference archival intern at the Smithsonian National Anthropological Archives. The NAA is part of the National Museum of Natural History’s Department of Anthropology, and it collects and preserves historical and contemporary anthropological materials that document the world’s cultures and the history of anthropology. Throughout the summer, I worked closely with the staff of the NAA to do outreach work by writing blog posts for the Smithsonian’s blog that highlighted aspects of their collections, and I learned about archival reference work through a weekly reading group and seminar. In addition, I attended NAA and Smithsonian staff meetings as well as institution-wide webinars and workshops. This summer was a lot different from the normal set up of the internship, since we were completely remote instead of living in Washington, D.C. This changed a lot of the aspects of the internship, since a lot of archival work is only possible in person. However, it was an incredibly valuable experience, and I made connections with amazing people and learned a lot about both North American anthropology as well as archives more generally.
Why did you apply for this internship?
I applied for this internship because it combined anthropology, a field that I am familiar with, and have taken courses for my archaeology major in, with archival work, a career setting that I had never dipped my toes into. During the winter of 2019, I applied for many archaeological field work positions, which ended up being canceled due to COVID-19. Archival work ended up being one of the only internships that was moved to remote, instead of canceled for the summer, so I was able to have the opportunity to learn about a new field and career setting.
What has been the biggest challenge you've faced at your internship?
The biggest challenge that I’ve faced at my internship was the lack of availability of digitized resources, as well as just adapting to problems that arose from being the first intern to work remotely and in a digital format.
What is most rewarding about your internship?
The most rewarding thing about this internship was definitely the connections that I made with my coworkers. We had weekly meetings, as well as weekly seminars, and often took time just to talk about our lives and how we were dealing with everything that was going on. This internship was not what I expected it to be, since many of the aspects were adjusted and changed to adapt to an online format; however, having the opportunity to meet and work with such wonderful people, especially during a time of isolation, was the highlight of my summer.
Visit the Summer 2020 Internships page to read more student stories.