Blog Reflection Post 4

What are you doing that seems to be successful in the internship?  Challenging? How can you address these challenges?

My most successful project in this internship is the database that I am compiling of the usage of the words “famous,” “celebrated,” and “celebrity” over time. I’ve been with the material for so long that I can recognize patterns and historical trends in the articles. The data sometimes confirms my suspicions and sometimes takes me completely by surprise. I feel confident about writing up an analysis of this data, and I look forward to doing so, as I can explain my findings to someone other than my fiancé. The real challenge with this project is time: it will be my only project for the next few weeks and even into the early new year, since we need to present our findings.

The more challenging project has been compiling the database of celebrity politicians. Of course, compiling your own database is always harder than simply adding to someone else’s. However, my database so far was relatively easy to compile, given that I utilized other organization’s lists of famous politicians to help me build a solid foundation. The real challenge, as I head into the new year, will be diving into the Political Graveyard–a very, very thorough database of US politicians–to find the names of lesser-known entertainers and celebrities from the period especially lacking in my current list: the 19th century. This work will be challenging in that I will have to do more fact-checking and general sifting through countless names, but it will also be exciting to figure out the best way to do so as well as learn more about 19th-century politicians.

For next semester, I’ll address these challenges by devoting more time to my digital internship–from 10 to 15 hours. Since my boss wants to present some of these findings, I’ll also be meeting with him and others at NMAH once a week to get a better sense of the team dynamic and work environment. (So really, this will be a part-digital, part-IRL internship.) The best way to deal with deadlines and learning new material, after all, is not any new-fangled techniques and strategies but just time. It will be strange next semester when this internship is my only “class” at George Mason University, but I will put in the effort as I would any other academic course–now without other academic courses to take time out of my schedule. Looking forward to the new year!

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