Friday, 28 July 2017

MMST 2017 INTERNSHIPS: CONCLUDING THOUGHTS

INTERNSHIP CHECK-IN

BY: TABITHA CHAN

This is officially my last post for the Internship Check-In column this summer. When Serena approached me about writing a reflective conclusion for the series, I was very excited! She suggested that it would be a good opportunity to share a bit about my own internship and to highlight key takeaways that students have experienced this past summer at their institutions.

My last day of being a Publishing Intern at the AGO.

In January, I began my internship in the Publishing Department at the Art Gallery of Ontario. I worked part-time while I was completing my winter semester classes - starting out at 2 full days a week, then 3 days - until I was able to work 5 days when classes ended. I completed my internship at the end of May. When I started my internship, I had a very open mind and I was beginning with a blank slate. I have never worked in publishing before and to be honest, I didn’t know exactly what it meant to have a publishing team within a museum. I chose to apply and do this internship because I felt like I had the skills and interest that made me a good fit - I have always enjoyed writing, editing, design, storytelling and ultimately, books and (as weird as it sounds) the literal tactility of paper.

My internship was very unique because my manager’s role encompasses a variety of different responsibilities. Though his title is officially “Manager of Publishing,” he is also the curator for the upcoming Guillermo Del Toro: At Home With Monsters exhibition, opening September 2017. His direct experience, knowledge and passion for video and film made him the perfect fit for this role. Every Tuesday, I was fortunate enough to attend the weekly Guillermo Del Toro content meetings. The GDT team consists of: the curator, research assistant, interpretive planner, graphic designer and project manager. I loved seeing the progression of their exhibition planning and I am really looking forward to seeing the GDT exhibition come to fruition in the fall!

Before my internship, I had always assumed that a big institution meant that there would be a big team behind-the-scenes. I’ve realized that this isn’t necessarily the case for every department.  Specifically in the Publishing Department, there is only 1 full-time editor, 1 part-time editor and my manager.  The many meetings I’ve attended with my manager have taught me the importance of teamwork across departments in a big institution. It has been amazing to observe how publishing is connected to so many other facets of the gallery. 

Key Takeaways
  1. Don't be afraid to ask questions - whether that's because you don't understand something or if you want to be included in meetings and events (you're there to learn!)
  2. Say "yes" to new tasks and responsibilities (even if at first it seems out of your comfort zone)
  3. Be willing to accept change and let go (projects will change and grow and that's okay!)
  4. Take advantage of the opportunity to network and to meet other museum professionals
  5. Be honest, humble and open-minded
Thanks to all the students who took their time to be interviewed and share their experiences for the internship check-in column this summer! I learned so much about different museum roles and what it's like to work in a variety of institutions. And thank you to all of the readers as well - I'm very grateful for our supportive MMSt community!

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