Kirsten Lew

Curatorial Assistance: Exhibitions and Art Services
Pasadena, CA

My experience with the internship program was overwhelmingly positive. I think when most graduate students think of internships, they think of bright-eyed fresh-out-of-college youngsters who don’t know any better than to work for free, and I was expecting that it would be difficult and competitive to score an internship. What I found as a grad student, though, is that people are really eager to have you intern with them, especially when they know that you’re receiving outside support, and especially when you have the luxury of selecting internships that jibe with your research skills. I heard back from every organization that I contacted about an internship.

        My internship involved working in a photography archive, which provided me with some transferable skills for my scholarly work, but much more importantly it was interesting and fun for me—much more interesting than my usual SAT tutoring summer job. The place I worked was a non-profit, and most of the other interns had academic backgrounds as well, so it was a really stimulating work environment. It’s very easy for us to think that teaching is the only thing we can do, and I think that’s a view of ourselves that we need to revise. I realized that as much as I like teaching I also need a break from it, and that I actually really enjoy office jobs that make use of my Type-A desire to organize everything in sight.

        The most important thing I took away from this experience is that it’s important that we open ourselves up to experiences that don’t fit into our research interests or career goals at first sight; not everything has to be part of a teleology, and it will probably help you in ways that you couldn’t foresee when you signed up for it.