Smithsonian Digital Internship, Final Reflection

As this internship winds down, I’m reflecting back on what I’ve learned and accomplished throughout the past eight months. I’ve gotten to experience interning for the Smithsonian Institution, which was a wonderful experience. I’ve learned more about publishing a piece in the Smithsonian Magazine than I ever thought I would’ve when I started college. The amount of editing that goes into just the writing portion of my pieces has been incredible to watch and participate in. I’ve spent countless hours researching, editing, and creating digital pieces that I’m really very proud to call my own. I’ve gotten much more comfortable working with different DH softwares, like TimelineJS and Carto. I’m starting to feel more comfortable working with HTML, and I wouldn’t mind taking some time this summer to work more with it.

I enjoyed the work I’ve done the most this year. Seeing all my hard work put into fruition, published, instead of just sitting on a hard drive for me to look back on in a few years. I enjoyed watching my work go from unpolished to publishable over the course of each project. The part of the internship that I disliked the least was probably one I have a love/hate relationship with – the digital part. I loved the digital aspect because it allowed me to work full time and still have this internship. I could juggle both without much problem. The digital part I disliked involved difficulties in communication and sometimes feeling “seen” or “heard.” It’s easy to forget about someone when they’re not in front of you on a daily basis, like they would be in a traditional internship. So while I liked the freedom the digital aspect allowed me, sometimes it got frustrating when communication became difficult.

This internship will absolutely be helpful as I move forward in my own professional development. I hope to continue to build my DH skills, and potentially branch out of the world of academia and into the museum world with DH. I now understand so much more about the DH world, even though I know it’s constantly evolving and that I know only a small percentage of what the DH world entails. I’m a lot more comfortable with my abilities in DH, and I hope that they will help me in my future professional endeavors. DH isn’t so much a specific job, instead it’s incorporating the digital world into the museum and academic worlds. DH demonstrates what we’ve been doing in the analog world for so long but in a digital format. DH is only going to continue to grow as the internet and digitization continues to accelerate. Speaking for education, I know that the production of digital products by teachers and students is a huge push at the moment. I’m sure it’s happening in the museum world as well. But it all boils down to how can we incorporate the digital tools to the analog world of public humanities. And how can we help spread the humanities through the digital world? I hope to be able to build upon that digital humanities push in my own life and career.

The coursework in the Digital Public Humanities Graduate Certificate program helped prepare me for my internship by giving me a bit of hands-on time with certain products used in the DH world. I was able to call upon those experiences in my internship and use those for my initial projects. As I continued in my projects, I was able to research and find tools that were better suited for my needs at the time. Sometimes I wished for more knowledge of code, but overall, I felt prepared from my courses to handle a variety of digital tools.

I’m really glad I participated in this program, and I’m really glad I was able to complete this internship with the Smithsonian. Being able to work hands-on with the digital tools I was learning about really cemented my joy in spreading the digital public humanities work. The most joy I got out of this internship was, admittedly, selfish, because I most enjoyed seeing my projects published. But otherwise, I just simply enjoyed using the digital tools. I’m glad I selfishly got to try new things and use the digital tools, but I’m also glad I was able to teach people new things, whether it was about Freedom Riders, the former Presidents in retirement, or local podcasts that present history and culture with flair.

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