Internship Reflection #4

When my internship began, I made it a point to prioritize team meetings. Every week, my classmate and I have a standing meeting with our internship supervisor. Additionally, the larger HCAC team at the RRCHNM also meets every week via Zoom. Over the past few months, there have been times when it has been difficult to attend one or both of these meetings; some weeks I’ve been on the road during a conference call, other weeks I’ve been bogged down with other schoolwork. However, when my internship began, I made a commitment to myself to prioritize these meetings. I firmly believe that a key ingredient to success in this internship is my full integration and active participation in the larger structure of the project. I’m proud with how I’ve consistently shown up throughout the semester in this internship. It’s a small win, but I believe it to be a vital aspect to success.

One of the most challenging aspects of this experience and the HCAC project as a whole is the speed at which progress is made. During a team meeting yesterday, my internship supervisor spoke to this, stating that this project was the slowest moving project he’s ever encountered in his 20+ years at the RRCHNM. This can be attributed to the large number of partners involved in the project. While my involvement is centered almost exclusively around the Center for History and New Media, the larger HCAC project includes 5 HBCUs and the Smithsonian. A wide range of staff (full-time, part-time, undergrads, graduate students, faculty, museum staff, etc.) are involved at the HBCU level. For the project to succeed, coordination and communication must happen within the individual HBCUs, between the HBCUs, between the HBCUs and the RRCHNM, between the RRCHNM and the Smithsonian, and between the Smithsonian and the HBCUs. Additionally, as the project advances, progress is increasingly reliant on independent contractors who have been hired to help with the digitization of objects within the 5 HBCU collections. With so many individuals and organizations involved, it’s almost incomprehensible to me that progress is happening at all!

It can be difficult at times for me to understand what my role is when it comes to tackling these challenges. While the experience presents a valuable learning opportunity for me, I often feel like my abilities and role limit how much I can contribute to the forward momentum of the project. In those moments, I make a conscious effort to remind myself that the success of the project relies on the small, regular contributions of all involved individuals, not the contributions of a select few.

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