About the Author: Emily just graduated from the University of Virginia where she was Vice President of her class. She’s an excellent friend, wonderful baker, and a witty conversationalist. She also has her own sweet blog.
If you had asked me a year ago where I would be 6 months after graduating, I would not have picked this. A year ago, I would have scoffed at the idea of being an intern (as many others still do when I try to relay my current life status to them) and insisted that the perfect job was simply going to find me in my final semester at school. Clearly, I was delusional, far beyond the help of Denise’s weekly “Hoos In Denial” meetings.*
And then I seemingly pulled off the impossible: I found the one thing in Washington, D.C. that combined my excessively-specific History/African American Studies majors with my extracurricular hobby of fundraising. Hello, National Museum of African American History and Culture, please let me work in your Development Office!
Reality check: this isn’t a real job, it’s an internship. Womp womp.
Living off the satisfaction of a job well done...
Intern describes more than my work status (or lack thereof). It essentially describes my entire life right now; sometimes I like to think I’m practicing for the clichéd “real world” that everyone continually mentions with a mixture of fear and anticipation. When does real life begin? Does it begin when you move out of your parents’ house for good? Or when you finish school? Maybe when you learn to cook more than an egg (sorry, Postgraduate Moocher), or when you have an income?
Rather than go into a “Rent”-induced rant on measuring fickle things like ”Seasons of Love” (musicals make me far too emotionally uncomfortable to begin with), I will opt for a much more intern-ish way to tackle such topics: a list.
I keep several running lists on a daily basis: Work to-do, life to-do, email to-do, music to download, babysitting jobs… [insert mocking of my OCD tendencies that have only seemed to multiply post-graduation]. My favorite one is my in/out list, describing the current (yet ever-changing) love/hate relationships of my life. For example:
IN: malbec (all hail Mendoza, Argentina for furthering my soft spot for red wine), mix CDs, going to the gym
OUT: chardonnay, applying for jobs, rampant incompetence
…and so on. Thus, I leave you with my current in/out list of life as an Intern:
- Faxing Oprah Winfrey and Laura Bush. That’s right, my first day on the job, I got to dial Oprah’s number into our [highly-temperamental] fax machine and instantly reeled from what was obviously a very close brush with fame. Four months later, same reaction.
- Being a nerd. The Smithsonian has glorified the once-rejected label from elementary school. My freak-flag is at full mast. Recently, I found myself at a happy hour, raving about an exhibition at the African Art Museum on transitions and male identity in South Africa to a complete stranger. I dragged a friend to see a play reading at the Lincoln Theatre simply because Julian Bond – one of my past professors and a Civil Rights activist – was the narrator and Ernest Green was in attendance. I literally salivate while writing exhibition gallery descriptions. I once spent an entire afternoon reading Jane Austen in the Hirshhorn. And don’t even get me started on David Wojnarowicz and the National Portrait Gallery’s recent debacle.
- Cooking. Following a year’s consumption of Trader Joe’s instant oatmeal for 2/3 of my daily meals, I set out to refine my palette. Highlights include a Rachel Ray herb-roasted turkey and anentire series of alcohol-infused cupcakes, ranging from Irish Car Bombs to Margaritas (who knew tequila could be such a good bonding agent in frosting?). Bonus points for having your supervisor taste-test aforementioned alcoholic baked goods.
- Washington, D.C. Metro. Disclaimer: I completely support the notion of public transportation and reducing my carbon footprint. Exceptions occur when: (a) my station is the subject of bomb threats (b) the perpetual exerciser is on the train, or (c) there is an “Orange Meltdown.”
- Nannying 2-year-old twins with no bedtime as a side job. Throw in 3 cats with a terrifying automated litter box, the consumption of no less than 8 Crayola markers by one child, and organic-food-obsessed yet “free-thinking-parenting mentality” parents – and you have a pretty accurate picture of why this deteriorated after the first date night. This was before I walked into the twins’ room at 10:30pm to find them both stark naked, screaming, and running in circles. Behold, America’s youth.
- Unpaid internships. Despite the fact that I am helping with a $250M Capital Campaign for NMAAHC, apparently the majority of donors prefer to give us money to name things in their honor rather than sponsor the livelihood of a lowly intern – go figure.**
*Hoos in Denial = a club started in Lawn Room 6 East at the University of Virginia in 2009 which sought to comfort the desperate, future-seeking 4th years by forcing them not to talk about jobs/applications/exams/interviews for exactly one hour each Wednesday evening.
**However, the perks of interning at the Smithsonian extend beyond free IMAX movie tickets – I have found something that I actually love to do every day, and it just so happens that I am able to make a valuable contribution to the creation of a historical museum in the process. So really, I am lucky – because how many people can say that?