Summer 2020 Student Experiences
I assisted the marketing and community initiatives teams. Several of my tasks included researching operas, writing articles, and devising educational resources for a student guide. I also presented academic findings with my supervisor via a livestream on YouTube. I collaborated with my supervisors and fellow intern in order to create target goals for each week. Throughout the course of my internship, I attended weekly meetings with members of the marketing and communications teams. This allowed me to learn about strategies that employees were utilizing to devise financial, educational, and artistic plans.
Kelly Writers House
During the start of my internship, I was involved in much of the logistical preparation for the upcoming Summer Workshop. I designed spreadsheets for contact lists, sorted through and indexed the participants in our summer class, and wrote up a 1000-word essay to share with the students during the first week of workshop. I know that both myself and my colleagues had some mixed feelings going in, due to the online format this year. My worries subsided on the first day of the workshop, however, when I met our group of students. During the 10-day workshop, I was mainly responsible for co-leading a daily workshop group of a few students, where we collectively discussed and critiqued each student’s piece. I also helped staff two craft sessions taught by Penn faculty.
National Constitution Center
I assisted the Education Department in moving the Summer Teacher Institutes to a virtual format.
In the program, teachers learn from academics about a variety of historical subjects, based around the Constitution. I learned not only about how programming, scheduling, and organizing worked, but I also learned about various historical subjects that correlated with the constitution and our historical founding. Additionally, I also learned about the type of learning and preparation needed on a typical teacher’s side of education. It was interesting to witness a plethora of teachers who teach a different range of students, gather to learn and develop their teaching skills and lesson plans. I also listened during the Summer Teacher Institutes to various historical academics who work in prestigious universities and institutions across the country.
One Art Community Center
I was exposed to the ins and outs of construction, learnt how to conduct a site survey and read a fire code, experienced working in a team of professionals, had the opportunity to meet virtually with or correspond over email with reputable architects, landscape architects, designers, and structural engineers, and gained enormous experience in proposing ideas, and listening and absorbing those of others. I was also able to put what I learnt into practice as we took on a project to reconstruct and renovate the One Art 52nd Street Entrance and facade, in collaboration with a biophilic organization based in Philadelphia, BioPhilly.
My day-to-day duties were transcribing and reviewing the Penn Trustees’ minutes, starting with the first volume begun in 1749. Soon, we’ll be writing informal reports about some interesting episodes of Penn’s history – I’ll be writing about Penn’s charity and girls’ education. We had a couple of Zoom calls each week with different departments at the Kislak Center, where the department heads taught us what they do, how, and why; a survey of the Kislak machinery. Some of my favorites were introductions to Penn’s Judaica and Hebraica collections and the process of making finding aids for new collections. Often these meetings evolved into conversations about the nature of archives and “doing” history. My research skills I feel have improved massively as well. What a lot of history classes and departments don’t teach is how to actually “do history”.
Institute of Contemporary Art
I collaborated with another intern, Riley Wesolowski, to create a comprehensive Black-Owned Businesses document. I have also worked on an ongoing archival project. When ICA transitioned their website in recent years, some pages had more success acclimating to the new format than others. For this reason, many exhibition pages have sections that didn’t migrate from the old website, image boxes left unpopulated, hyperlinks missing, etc. I have been combing through the online archive and identifying key areas and pages that need attention. In addition to these more structured projects and meetings, I have completed several “odds and ends” tasks, including write ups on old exhibitions, research into deceased former ICA artists, COVID-specific research on museum reopening strategies, and icon and graphic design research for future ICA posts.
My Public Engagement work was centered around the ICA Student Board. My goals for the summer was to create a plan for the Student Board in light of the upcoming 2020-2021 academic year; this involved researching the upcoming shows at ICA and ways the Student Board could connect students with ICA through programming, developing a social media plan for the Student Board, and restructuring Board so it could maintain a strong and consistent identity. I worked on maintaining budget spreadsheets for both past and upcoming shows at ICA as well as developing COVID-19 related instructional documents in lieu of ICA re-opening. I attended Curatorial Department meetings , where I learned key information on the process of developing publications such as Gallery Notes and catalogs. The bulk of my work with Curatorial was on the upcoming exhibition on Milford Graves, to open in the fall of 2020.
I was also happy to work on heavily writing-based tasks. One of the first projects I was asked to complete was a fundraising appeal letter that would be sent to potential donors. The appeal letter was a great chance to work closely with ArtWell’s executive director and development director; the opportunity to work so collaboratively on a task is not something I’ve experienced in other jobs or internships. Another part of my internship included working with the program director to hold debrief meetings with ArtWell teaching artists. This assignment was incredibly educational in that it gave me insight into the programming ArtWell does in schools from hearing teaching artists reflect on their experiences. Compiling a comprehensive anti-racism and social justice resource list was an assignment responding to the need that parents, young people, and educators may have for educational resources in navigating healing and conversations in the wake of nationwide protests against racism and police brutality.
The African American Museum of Philadelphia (AAMP)
While I was able to contribute in a number of meetings pertaining to a variety of programs, the highlight of my summer was having the opportunity to create a project of my own. With the resurgence of conversations surrounding racial strife and systemic oppression, AAMP asked me to develop an event that highlights manifestations of Black Joy during times of strife. This was the first time I had been asked to take the reins on a project of my own creation, and I felt like my passion, opinion, and intellect, were valued and supported. I was more than a college intern but a part of a team, which made me feel more confident to join the workforce. Since most museum programming occurred digitally, I was challenged to envision an event that discusses joy while simultaneously providing a joyful and connective experience through a screen.
On the first day of my internship, Tuomi excitedly declared that I would be working on an immigration project to compile and analyze immigration and migration data and trends to Germantown from 1970 to the present. I was touched that my supervisor had put in such thought to assign me a project I would love, and I was excited to embark on a project that would allow me to apply the knowledge and skills I have been garnering in my urban studies coursework. The project required me to do extensive work mining data from the U.S. Census Bureau. While the work was difficult and required a lot of backtracking and starting over, I was successfully able to harvest the needed data and learned quite a bit along the way. With a co-worker’s help, I was able to create my own version of Germantown’s borders (as according to Historic Germantown) through a google application, which was very helpful to me as I analyzed which Census tracts and block groups to include while searching for data on Germantown.
Kislak Center for Rare Books and Manuscripts
The Kislak Center and the University Archives combined their internships to work on the same main project for the summer - the Transcription of the Trustees Minutes from 1749 until the mid-1800s, something which had not been done yet. The work on the Trustees minutes allowed the interns to delve into the administration of the Academy/University during these formative years, and illuminated central problems related to the transcription process: standardize spelling or maintain original spellings, replication of spacing/indentation/other markings on the page with the constraints of the FromThePage Software, and the process of reading the 18th century handwriting.
Sachs Program for Arts Innovation
I was the strategic initiatives intern. Given that Sachs is now a few years old, the staff, Chloe and John, decided that it was the right time to assess the program’s performance and reorient it to meet its original goals. For this task, Sachs hired an independent arts consultant, Bill Adair. My job was to support him in carrying out a full-scale program evaluation study. I was given a list of thirty potential interviewees; individuals affiliated with the program in various ways. These included faculty board members, student grant winners, arts house directors, university deans, the university provost, and the funder of the foundation. Each interview was held over video conference and lasted approximately 45 minutes. During each interview, I took extensive notes and organized them. Our end goal was to produce a report that could be shared with the Sachs staff and advisory board, serving as the basis for decision-making for the future.
As the editorial content/music blogger intern for WXPN this summer, my work days were fairly straightforward: I would log into my email in the morning and would usually have a handful of potential article topics to write about for WXPN’s music blog, The Key, usually involving new recordings or events from Philadelphia-area artists. Once my morning assignments were complete, I was essentially on call in case anything else came through for me to write, and I would occasionally be asked to pause whatever I was working on to cover something breaking. On slower news days, I was expected to work on finding my own pitches. A couple of the cooler opportunities that I got as an XPN intern were conducting an interview with Chris Baglivo of The Superweaks, as well as getting to listen to unreleased music from artists like Tigers Jaw and Into It. Over It, so that an article about their new music could be released in conjunction with the song itself. I was also given the chance to premiere several songs by local artists.
I never ran out of things to do as a WXPN World Cafe Programming Intern. Since we produced a radio broadcast daily, there were certain tasks I had to complete every day. I began my shift by making the playlist, the episode promo, and episode rundown. To create the playlist, I compiled the songs that would be played on the show, as well as the corresponding artists, album titles, and record labels, into one excel document. For the episode promo, I wrote a 90-word blurb highlighting the artist and interesting anecdotes from their interview to promote the upcoming show. Prep files were my most important but labor-intensive responsibility. I had to compile all the information I could find on an artist into one document. Prep files were important for the show’s host to prepare for an interview.
I was hosted by the department of academic engagement, working under Anne Tiballi to start development on an exhibition featuring artifacts from Pachacamac, Peru. Our goal with this exhibition is to show that these Andean people lived interesting, colorful lives and to break down the one-dimensional stereotypes typically seen in media surrounding mesoamerican societies. I was able to read original documents from the Spanish chroniclers that invaded South America, using my knowledge of Spanish to
translate and interpret several accounts. This was particularly interesting because my mentor and
I were able to have great discussions surrounding the internalized biases of the conquistadors and
their writings. My final project was to create a Digital Daily Dig [a short video] to be posted on the website of the Penn Museum.
I attended weekly and monthly meetings taking place at multiple points in a manuscript’s approval timeline. I collected author, contributor, reader, series editor, and permission holder contact information to write and submit lists of recipients of physical gratis copies of a book as well as send out digital gratis copies. I also sent out a backlog of digital copies extending back three seasons and totaling over 100 different titles. I place orders for book honoraria to compensate readers, input author addresses and book titles into FileMaker, and formatted the footnotes of a chapter of a manuscript.