How to be an Intern

October 17, 2013Computer science and art history major Jessica Natoli (C’13) spent the summer working in the digital media department at the Museum of Modern Art (MoMA) in New York.

Georgetown: What kind of internship did you want for the summer?
Jessica Natoli: There’s no set path for my double major. I could go one way to the art world or one way to computers, or I could try to make something of both. I knew I wanted to be in the art world a little bit more than in the computer world. Once I had some direction, I started asking questions. What are the career options? What goes into running museums? What do they need? I just wanted to try something as close to full time as possible. That was a good experience in and of itself—to be fully immersed in a job and see if I liked it.

GU: How did you find the internship at MoMA?
JN: The art history department constantly sends out emails for local internship opportunities and even sometimes jobs for students to take on during the semester and the summer. These emails gave me some ideas for what kinds of internships to look for in the region where I wanted to work this summer, New York City. Then, I turned to trusty Google to research summer opportunities at large museums in the city and applied to as many as I could.

GU: Why is it important for students to try to get an internship?
JN: I got experience in preparing applications to different places, interviewing, and talking with different people. That’s something that doesn’t happen when you’re just going to class. I also talked to people where I didn’t get an internship. I asked those people about their jobs and if they had suggestions for other places to look. Their suggestions were extremely helpful.

GU: What does the digital media department do at MoMA?
JN: It encompassed anything media related. The department is responsible for the main website. They also either create or outsource websites for each special exhibition. They also developed a new app this summer. The department consisted of individuals with a wide range of backgrounds and training, including software developers, managers, designers, audio and video [specialists], and people who loved art and were good with computers. It was nice to see that there were people in the department who didn’t have a degree in computer science, which was different from what I had expected.

GU: What type of work did you do as an intern?
JN: One of the daily tasks of the digital media department is to process requests in regard to the museum’s content website (updating events, fixing errors, adding new content, removing old content). As an intern, I helped to make these changes to the website. I also worked on virtual tours that the museum offers for some special exhibitions and main galleries.

GU: What did you like about your experience working at MoMA?
JN: I really loved the people who work at MoMA. They loved coming to work everyday and were 100 percent behind all of the projects they worked on. They answered all my questions and were constantly on the lookout for new projects for me or meetings for me to attend. You really want to be somewhere where the people are enthusiastic about what they do.

GU: Were there any challenges working at MoMA that you didn’t foresee?
JN: After the first two weeks, commuting became more of a nuisance than a challenge. I commuted to New York City from New Jersey everyday, about two hours each way. I would suggest to carefully consider housing when you apply to these internships. Try to live close to where you are working if you can. Also spend time looking into housing in that area. Many universities will offer their student housing to students who are looking to intern in the area.

GU: What should students do to make the most of their internships?
JN: Ask tons of questions. I asked [people] about how they got into the field they are working in, what degrees are necessary, as well as any advice they might have for me. Also try to experience as much as possible while you’re interning. It may be boring, but ask to sit in on as many meetings as you can to get a feel for all the different projects and aspects of the organization. Approach your coworkers and ask them what projects they are working on. If you like their project, ask if you could help out. By asking to help on specific projects, I was able to work on projects that might not have normally been given to an intern.

GU: Do you have any suggestions for students starting the search for a spring or summer internship?
JN: My biggest suggestion is to apply everywhere that you are interested and apply to a lot of places. The worst that could happen is that you don’t get the internship. The best that could happen is that you get offers from a few institutions letting you decide where you want to intern. Also make sure to apply early and check deadlines. Applications are due sooner than you think!
 


Related information

There are many resources at Georgetown to help students find internships. Individual departments often send internship opportunities to majors via email. Students can also visit the Cawley Career Education Center to search for an internship or to make an appointment with a career counselor.