Overall, I have mixed feelings about my internship due to the mixed experience. Since I was split between two different areas and skillsets within the same building, I made less progress exploring either than I originally hoped.
While my archival work proved fruitful, I am just finishing the mass inventory and categorization. If I had been in that space 3 or 4 times a week instead, I would have been able to plumb my interest in archival work further. Conversely, if I had spent more time in the New Orleans Jazz Museum, I would have grown more accustomed to planning and management, marketing strategies, and the development of the Museum.
Nonetheless, I was interested in both parts of the Museum, so I feel that the depth vs. width tradeoff was necessary, if not regrettable. Working in the archives has still forced me to think about historical categorization in significant ways, and I hope I get to keep working or volunteering in the field.
I believe this internship has helped cement that my writing and synthesis skills need to be a part of my job. Even if it is not the kind of writing I am familiar with, it was a bit of a fun puzzle writing newsletters and memos to potential donors. I had to excerpt all the vital pieces of information, order them properly, and ensure that all my descriptions were concise. In the past, I have struggled to keep my writing brief, so it was refreshing to have the professional and creative boundary that short-form writing provides.
At the same time, I have also learned that I enjoy having some kind of long-term goal to work towards. Many of my projects in the Museum were self-contained, so I spent one to two days working on them and finished. However, some of the work I found most engaging was exploring how the Museum will conduct its Gala auction later in the year. I worked with the Museum’s Squarespace website to best design forms and spreadsheets collecting information about donations, and I assessed auction websites for best results. I did not anticipate these tasks pulling me in, but I think the feeling of the different functions building on each other was a satisfying progression for me. In my future internships, work, and academic life, I will have to experiment with more ways to monitor my own goals and progression to best enhance my work.
If another student were interested in an internship at the Jazz Museum, I would recommend committing to a single field in most cases. And above all else, ask for work whenever you can! The Jazz Museum has a relaxed work environment, but most of the staff have so many different jobs that even taking one to two extra small 15-minute tasks a day helps everybody. Plus, it opens communications and makes sure that if your supervisor hears about a job, you are on their radar as a potential candidate.
For students interested in the field, I would highly recommend attaching goals to all tasks you receive. While it seems simple, it is easy to fall into the trap of compiling information for no exact purpose. Suddenly, you have thirty quotes when you needed four and the editing time has shot up from 30 minutes to 3 hours.
This review sounds more negative than my genuine opinions on the internship due to the way I criticize myself and my work, so I will end by discussing the work for which I feel most proud. My work in the Museum has been the most eye-opening for me since I have found new fields to which my skills apply. My time in the museum has also helped me analyze my work patterns; however, in terms of accomplishment, my work in the archives is my best.
As of the writing of this blog post, I have categorized over 1,500 items in the Louisiana Historical Center, and I am satisfied with that. The quantity is relevant of course but feeling out the process and finding both the fun and rhythm within the work has been a key takeaway from this internship.