You will need to be comfortable with working from home. This was my foremost perception of my internship with the Burchfield Penney Art Center. Since I began working on my internship in May, I have completed every hour of the process online. Some students may see these circumstances as a deterrent from interning during this time, but I am choosing to look at it as a challenge. Interning with the Burchfield Penney has been a very rewarding experience, and I believe that the virtual setting of the internship has been a test of my soft skills.
A digital internship has allowed me the freedom of working within my own timeframe and according to my own hours. Heather Gring, my internship adviser, hosted a weekly check in with all of the current interns, highlighting positions at the Burchfield Penney by inviting staff of those positions to speak for about an hour each meeting. These meetings were enough to maintain communication between us while allowing interns to work at their own pace. This style of communication and management allowed me to grow into my role as an archival intern by working on my time management skills, written communication skills and documentation skills, and allowed me to network within my workplace.
During my internship, I also came into the opportunity to develop practical skills within my field. For the first month of my internship, I focused mainly on transcribing interviews between Heather and local artists for the Burchfield’s Living Legacy Project. By discovering and implementing the use of a transcription software, I was able to reduce the time spent on each project by more than 50%. This software implementation allowed me to be more efficient with completing my projects, and will be introduced to future interns as well.
In the second month of my internship, I worked on researching and composing artist biographies for the Burchfield Penney Artists website. As a future Museum Studies graduate student, increased experience with research in the Arts will provide me an experiential advantage come next fall. My work is shown on Burchfield Penney’s Artist webpages for Barbara Rowe, Jacqueline Tarry, McCallum + Tarry and Nina Freudenheim.
Most recently, I am working on editing audio files of more interviews with featured Living Legacy Project artists. Using Audacity editing software, I rework the audio files to meet the artist’s interests. I had not used Audacity prior to starting my internship, and have now gained valuable experience with audio editing so that I may further work on digital projects with confidence and skill.
Although I did not have the opportunity to spend extended time with any Burchfield staff apart from Heather, I always felt welcomed and valued during our meetings. Learning more about the internal operations of a museum, as well as the museum’s role in community engagement was important knowledge that I feel will be an asset to me as I continue into graduate school. Although the staff members each appeared only once for our intern team, they each were very informative and engaging, which helped me feel like part of the team, even from a distance.
To anyone with an interest in museum studies, curation, art history, or even the local history of Buffalo, I strongly recommend interning or volunteering at the Burchfield Penney Art Center.