From island to mainland (Part 2)

This semester, I have been off the University of Hawai‘iat Mānoa campus fulfilling an internship at the Smithsonian Institution in Washington, D.C. I was matched up with the Jazz Appreciation Month initiatives in the National Museum of American History.

While I didn’t know much about jazz music, my supervisor reassured me that I would be a useful set of new eyes (or rather, ears) in the JAM offices.

I had a few main tasks to complete during my time at JAM. I conducted interviews with a museum curator, teachers and librarians to gather information about jazz legends and JAM public events. I also scoured the Internet for little-known facts about jazz musicians, which I used to write articles based on the information I compiled. Eventually, what I wrote will be posted on the Smithsonian Jazz website (smithsonianjazz.org).

Every Friday, I aided a high school intern in creating a short film using the film editing software Final Cut Pro – which proved to be a tedious program. Scenes had to be cut just right, down to the millisecond, to create fluidity in both the visual and audio components of the video.

Unfortunately, at times I encountered too many lulls in my internship duties and sometimes found myself trying to figure out ways to make the clock tick faster.

In light of this, what really captured my interest during my internship at the National Museum of American History was the fact that it was the National Museum of American History. Not the city museum, not the state museum, but the national museum.

A diverse, multicultural crowd gathered every day at the museum to fulfill their internships; I met college students and graduates from various places in and outside of the United States. The museum provided a welcoming social environment while acting as a magnet, attracting curious museum-goers and knowledge-hungry interns from across the globe.

The interns ate lunch together, and we got to learn what each person was up to. Everyone worked in a different part of the museum, so we all had different tasks. Some worked directly with museum artifacts or filed information about each artifact into an electronic database. Other departments got to speak with museum visitors directly and address concerns and questions.

I was really surprised to find out such a large array of jobs were available in the museum. Prior to this internship, I thought the only staff that could possibly be in a museum were curators, administrative assistants and, perhaps, assistant curators. But there was a place in the museum for anyone, regardless of their field.

Connecting with the interns was a wonderful way for me to expand my network. Most of the interns were originally from cities other than D.C., so I think everyone tried their best to make sure the museum was a place for interns to feel comfortable and fit right in.


The Office of Community and Alumni Relations at Hawai’i Hall 311 is currently accepting applications for 2012 internships in Washington, D.C. The deadline for applications is March 9, 2012. For more information and application packet materials, visit www.artsci.hawaii.edu/alumni/students/scholarships_internships.htm.

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