I've had three internships in my undergraduate career so far, 4 if you want to get technical but that was just listed as an internships so I could get credit for it. In addition, I've worked at one field school and I'm leaving for another in two weeks exactly. In other words, I've got quite a bit of work experience under my belt.
My first internship came from an arts and sciences museum in my hometown between my freshman and sophomore year of University. I did 150 hours for 3 credit hours (while jostling two classes!), but I ended with 254 because I was co-directing the first ever Harry Potter Planetarium Show. I played Tonks, and it was quite a lot of fun. I interned with the Education Department, so I was exposed to virtually every aspect of the museum. I watched the exhibits and helped people there, I played with children in the children's discovery center, where they learned about gravity, air pressure, and things like that through playing. I designed my own summer camp activity that was incorporated into their summer camp. Since I'm an archaeology major, I did something related: I had the participants decorate clay pots, break them, and put them back together. They loved it! They said it was a challenge, but it was very fun nonetheless. I was also able to dissect sheep brains for the public in association with one of our exhibits at the time. I was a little happier than usual after the demonstrations (ahem...formaldehyde). Overall it was a great experience. I learned new skills in dealing with the public, other museums, handling many large projects at once, and I really enjoyed it.
My second internship was with a Cultural Resource Management firm. CRM deals with the identification of sites in areas that are about to be developed. Coal mine companies, construction companies, and the Department of Transportation call CRM firms to investigate areas that they are going to be working on to see if there is a valuable archaeological site within the construction zone. CRM archaeologists also do some rescue archaeology. For example, I helped with the removal of a 19th century cemetery from a logging area. Mostly, however, it is surveying and reports. Rarely does a CRM firm actually go to a full-scale excavation. I helped survey on a couple of projects, but I mostly cleaned the artifacts that were found. Toward the end of my internship I learned cataloging and inking, as well as getting them ready for a museum. I also helped write the reports on the sites. My main project, however, was putting together a spreadsheet of historic maps of all of the counties in the state. That took most of the semester, but I did start on another project, which entailed looking for chert in the tri-state region. I did not get credit for this internship, but it was paid. I learned the workings of CRM, seeing the artifacts from excavation to museum, and what goes into surveying and reports. I really enjoyed this internship as well.
My third and current internship is at a children's museum 40 minutes away from my house. This one is entirely volunteer, no pay, no credit. I love it. I am technically an intern with the Education department. I was signed on to help, and actually design, one of the main parts of the summer camp. It is archaeology related so of course I am right at home. It is a week-long camp for ages 7-12 and I'm planning one of their rotations. Unfortunately I won't help with the camp itself. I will be in Romania, but it has been very fun planning it. I'm also helping with a daily science lab for the museum visitors. Each month is a new theme, and each week is a new activity. The monthly themes are done in the afternoon, while the weekly themes are in the morning. Each session is an hour, but if we're bored or busy we stay open. The kids and the staff like it when we stay open. More play time! Apart from that I help out on the floor or wherever. Hopefully I will be back next summer, because this is a very fun place to work!
My first excavation was last summer in Kampsville, Illinois. I received credit for it, and it was amazing to work here. I worked at a very small excavation site near the Illinois River, and also at the base of a limestone cliff, which is great for preservation! We found whole shells, fragile bones, even jaw from a gar. The pottery was better at the base of the cliff rather than the rest of the site. The Middle Woodlanders who lived here chose to put their midden pit at the base of the cliff. Whoo hoo!!! On the very last day, I found a sherd concentration (rim sherds, shoulder sherds, body sherds, you name it). There were seven that I could see, and there were more, plus a bone, underneath. Of course, it was the last day, and unfortunately I couldn't stay. We learned proper excavation techniques and field journals and such, in addition to cleaning and tabulating artifacts. We also learned to make Cherokee-style baskets and how to flint knap. My flint knapping skills are not great, but I got a pretty good cutting utensil! I miss my field crew, but I'm looking forward to this summer!
This summer, and I'm leaving in exactly two weeks, I will be traveling to Romania to work at a Roman fort. I am so excited to work here I can't even describe it to you. I will say that when I received my acceptance email from the director I just about jumped through the ceiling.