Summer 2021 Student Experiences

Arthur Ross Gallery

Alice Zhao

“Additionally, I have devoted my time this summer researching and preparing for Arthur Ross’ upcoming exhibition in January titled No Ocean Between Us. Since it is a travelling exhibition (currently on view at the Art Museum of the Americas), we are in the process of selecting artworks to fit into our much smaller space based on their relevance to the Penn and Philadelphia community. This exhibition is really close to my heart for it reveals a mostly undocumented history of indentured slavery of Asian laborers in Latin America.”


Penn Art Collection

Lily Smith

“I’ve helped with both the indoor and outdoor inventories…The database is kept in Filemaker, with which, prior to this summer, I had no experience...I was able to conduct the outdoor inventory myself. In addition, I updated our mailing list, adding several hundred people that hadn’t been put into the system. I was also tasked with adding entries about works on the PAC website. I chose works that interested me to research and write about. I produced informational paragraphs to essentially serve as wall text, like that in a museum….A few years ago, a painting was found in the basement of an academic building. It was authenticated and confirmed to have been made by a famous artist in the late nineteenth century. I was tasked with finding any documentation of the painting—or any mention of it—in the papers of the man who owned it. I went to the Archives numerous times to comb through every piece of writing this man left, largely journals and letters. I also conducted extensive research online.” 



Cynthia Zhou

“I worked on a few administrative projects before pivoting into illustration/design projects for postcards, email campaigns, and pamphlets. Presumably like the other SHIP interns, this summer was a strange, transitional area between adhering to pandemic sensibilities and preparing for a possible reopening; much of the work I did was updating their existing graphics in preparation for when ArtWell could physically utilize them…at our weekly staff meetings, the other team members shared updates about grant submissions, email campaigns, race and equity pulse checks, and the like. I had one-on-one chats with almost everyone on the team, and each shared invaluable advice about their own experience with non-profits.”


Historic Germantown

Leo Wagner

“My principal focus of the internship, in addition to learning about the myriad of historical sites and overlaid stakeholders that comprise Historic Germantown’s scope in Northwest Philadelphia, was writing a long-form article for the organization’s quarterly publication, the Germantown Crier. I was able to write this piece as a comprehensive overview of the various proposed and completed roadway infrastructure proposals in Germantown and its environs during the mid-20th century, incorporating knowledge I had learned in class and through prior personal research regarding Federal and local urban policy and its impacts on the built environment. Because of the goals of Historic Germantown, I put a higher emphasis on covering some of the community response (and in some cases opposition) to some of the proposals than I would have otherwise if writing for myself or in another context.”


Institute of Contemporary Art 

Minsuh Park

“Working closely with Robert Chaney, the director of curatorial affairs at the ICA, I was exposed to a various aspects of exhibition planning process along with the curatorial and the larger ICA team. Over the course of my internship, I participated in meetings, organized and digitized a wide range of archive materials, and researched on various topics from digital archive to accessibility. Through my internship, I was able to learn how an art institute like the ICA operate within its team, with other collaborators, and with other artists.”


Kelly Writer's House

Isabella Jiang

“My experience this summer felt very much like the ideal intersection of my interests -- creative, professional, and otherwise -- in giving me insight into and hands-on experience in teaching creative writing, working out the logistics of a writing program, assembling a post-workshop anthology of student personal essays, and many other particulars that come with running a program.” 

Nikki Velletri

“One of my main jobs this summer was identifying…promising writers and reaching out to them. This included combing through lists of high school writing competitions, identifying winning students, and making contact with their English teachers. Throughout the summer, I was in touch with dozens of students and teachers across the country, sharing more information about Penn and what the Writers House specifically can offer young writers. I had never been in charge of professional correspondence like this before, and I learned a lot about how to initiate and maintain relationships over email (made more difficult by the fact that these were “cold calls”) and also about how dedicated the Writers House is to finding the best writers to bring to Penn’s creative writing program. In addition to this job, I also served as an intern for their Summer Writing Workshop, a two-week intensive high school workshop for students interested in writing nonfiction.


Kislak Center for Special Collections, Rare Books and Manuscripts/University Archives

Sarah Bernstein

“A majority of the internship was remote and online, but I was constantly being engaged by the staff with weekly meetings with the other interns to discuss our projects, progress, and interests along with discussions and presentations by various faculty members on their areas of expertise and research interests. The projects which I had undertaken included the transcription of early English and American recipe books from the18th and 19th centuries, an investigation of the metadata of the lecture notes from students of physician Benjamin Rush, and the organization and cataloging of the Kislak’s Center ever-growing Milton Collection and, recently acquired, Elizabeth Fee Collection.” 

Lochlahn March

“The first task we worked on as a group was transcribing 19th century recipe books for the Kislak Center collections. While working with these books, I was able to familiarize myself with some unique ingredients and cooking techniques, and I got fairly adept at decoding the obscure handwriting in the books. For the majority of my internship, however, I have been working on a project with the Penn Archives centered around the history of Penn’s early sports associations.”


National Museum of American Jewish History

Hannah De Oliveira

“One of the new exhibits that is currently in progress is centered around a Jewish soldier named William Shemin, who fought in World War II. I was assigned with organizing a spreadsheet of the artifacts that NMAJH has in their collection pertaining to Shemin, along with researching books and articles that could serve as supplemental materials for those who are interested in finding out more information. Additionally, I helped to initiate preliminary research on a new exhibit regarding Jewish women and the birth control movement, searching for relevant articles, books, and other online resources that could be useful when disseminating materials online.”

Ted Davis

“Day to day, my efforts consisted of assembling a comprehensive overview of existent programming in these areas [combating anti-Semitism and Jews of color]. I catalogued lessons from myriad groups and sources, with a particular eye to their targets, goals, and resources employed. This snapshot of the current universe would allow the museum to carve out a niche of its own to educate and inspire. Throughout, this method provided me an even better window into how ventures like these take form over time and are meticulously crafted with particular attention to purpose and upshot.”


National Constitution Center

Simrat Kohli

“During the first month and a half of my internship, I created resources from the database of the National Constitution Center which would be helpful for teachers prior to the Institute. Additionally, I brainstormed potential connections between topics. Also, I helped organize data collected from Institute participants, including the types of schools they taught at, the subjects and grade levels they taught, the state they are from, and more. I noted trends and commonalities and shared that with my supervisors, who were able to use that information to better tailor and focus their Institute. I ultimately helped in the creation of reporting on participant experiences.”

Allyson Margolis

“In preparation for the Institute, I helped create pre-institute resources, scholar and teacher biographies, compilations of teachers educational and pedagogical goals, as well as additional information to include in the virtual tours of the Center’s exhibits. During the time I was given to develop these resources, I learned how to effectively present them. Throughout the preparation process Sarah, and the rest of the NCC staff were available to give guidance and meet with us at least three times a week to collaborate.”


One Art

Gabrielle Utomo 

“In the ten weeks I was working with OneArt, I set four goals for myself: to revamp their current website, generate renders of an upcoming Classroom building, create descriptive diagrams of their existing Tiny House project, and model the entire OneArt campus to better accommodate interested visitors. This was an exciting opportunity for me as the directors encouraged me to pursue my other interests in website development in addition to architectural modeling and drawing, which I believe to be especially prominent in this digital age amidst the pandemic. Malaika, the main director of One Art, granted me much creative freedom in my artistic pursuits. It was up to my initiative to follow up with them each week, and proactively ask for comments in my drawings and work if they had any.” 


Opera Philadelphia 

Abby So

“Within Opera Philadelphia, I witnessed the genuine, warm efforts to break the barriers and carry the message of opera to those who are blind. For an upcoming article I will be publishing soon, I interviewed a gracious woman, Nicole, who audio describes our operatic performances. She meticulously records and translates what she sees and is the eyes for those who cannot physically watch. Not to mention, some of our artists sing in Italian; not all are in English! After the interview, I was deeply touched by our company’s efforts to enhance accessibility to anyone who seeks an opera show. My main goal for the upcoming article is to spread awareness on the need to help underrepresented communities of any sort for all those who want to experience musical entertainment—not just those who can.” 


Penn Sound

Alex Moon

“Both virtually and in-person, I learned about an extensive number of poets and had the opportunity to listen to them speak and read. I learned basic coding and audio editing skills, as well as how to operate in a professional environment…My main job as an intern was adding sources to PennSound’s web pages. In order to do this, I learned basic html, how to properly add metadata to audioworks, and how to manipulate existing code. In addition, I used Audacity—and later Adobe Audition—to segment, edit, and export audio files. Segmenting was the most difficult aspect of my job. In brief, I had to make good decisions on where to cut the audio so listeners would be able to enjoy long recordings in shorter pieces.”


Penn Museum of Archaeology and Anthropology: Archives

Sarah LaPorte

“I have been assisting on an archival research project focused on the intersection of military, government, and nuclear science research within archaeology at Penn during the Cold War, particularly looking at former director Froelich Rainey. I never could have imagined how invested I would become in this project—as a student of archaeology myself, I always had the impression that archaeology looked at the ancient. Instead, here I found myself digging through thousands of files and pictures no more than 70 years old, and found it just as interesting—and enlightening—as studying materials dating back to antiquity. It has truly changed my perspective on what the field of archaeology entails, and has made me realize the importance of not only studying the techniques it applies, but also the history of the discipline itself.” 


Pennsylvania Press

Sarah Alkhafaji

“By far the greatest thing that has stood out to me over these 10 weeks is the care and support coming from the staff, not only in my department, but in the Press as a whole, that was able to shine through the screen. In carrying out daily assignments, shadowing professionals in the Productions Department, and attending weekly seminars, I can confidently say at the end of my internship, that I have gained a world of information and contacts in the world of publishing that I never would have thought possible…I had tended to hear so often about careers in research and academia that related to the STEM fields, but not so much to the humanities. But after meeting so many inspiring scholars through Penn Press and through this program, I have a much more concrete understanding of what a career in the humanities can look like.”



Chelsey Zhu 

“Over the past ten weeks, I have researched, pitched, and rewritten news stories about the music industry, science, business, technology, and local politics under the direction of my supervisor, Bob Bumbera, who reads my news copy over the air during the Morning Show. I first applied for this internship because I was interested in audio journalism, and I hoped to one day work for a podcast or radio station. I had very little experience with working in audio and no experience writing about music before starting this position, and I was anxious about performing well. At the end of my ten weeks, I can confidently say that I have learned a lot about the broadcast industry, the music industry, and writing news for radio, thanks in large part to the guidance and advice of my supervisor."