How has your internship helped build skills and clarify your career goals?
This internship helped build skills and clarify my career goals by giving me the opportunity to see an exceptionally talented development office's work first hand. In the Planned Giving department, their training technique is jokingly called "baptism by fire-hose." Within the first week I had my own donor table at a lunch, was in contact with various estate lawyers working on trusts/estates, and attended one of the Smithsonian's biggest donor events at the year at the National Zoo. Not only did I build tangible skills, working at such a prestigious institution has taught me about the type of team I want to be working on, the importance of being a hard worker, and how important genuinely enjoying your work is to being successful.
How do you apply your Liberal Arts skills in your internship?
In this position I had to use a many different Liberal Arts skills including critical thinking, creativity, and communication skills within working in Planned Giving. Throughout the summer, I was given various projects to work on ranging from working with data, graphic design, and interacting directly with donors. This led to me to rely on the critical thinking skills I developed through Liberal Arts. I learned that if I did not fully analyze what I was working on before (or have an understanding of the donor), the end result might not match the desired results of the project. I also had the opportunity to be creative during this summer through projects I worked on for the Planned Giving Team, including designing a birthday card for donors that tied to together the 2019 Year of Music at the Smithsonian and another museum. I also heavily relied on the interpersonal skills I learned in liberal arts (COM212 saved the day). I worked with many different personalities this summer when working with donors. My background in communication taught me how to read their body language and direct the conversation in a way that made the donor feel connected to the Smithsonian and to the development officers.
What is the typical day like as an intern, any challenging or exciting aspects?
Every day at the Smithsonian is incredibly different, we may spend one day working with museums across D.C. or I may spend a day sitting in on meetings with the lawyers from the Smithsonian who work on estates. There is rarely a dull moment working in The Castle. The most challenging aspect of my internship is the importance of attention to detail, from filing to writing acknowledgement letters, there is no room for error, which can be intimidating, but a key skill to learn. Something that excites me about this internship is how much there is to learn about the Smithsonian as an institution. There are endless internal seminars to hear from different units, field trips, behind the scene tours, etc. A part of this internship that has been incredibly meaningful to me is how proud I am that I get to say I work for the Smithsonian. The work that the Smithsonian does never ceases to amaze me and I am humbled and honored that I get to be a tiny part of it.