I Was a Washington D.C. Intern
On June 9, 2003, my life took an interesting turn. It was a sunny day. Blue skies, humidity insanely high, and I found myself at 4th Street and Constitution in Washington, D.C. I stood before an angled architectural masterpiece by famed architect I.M. Pei; its pointed corners jutted out towards the grassy Mall and Capitol Hill as if it were some sort of Picasso-esque compass pointing simultaneously towards all the tourist hot spots. (The one corner, purportedly the sharpest building corner in the world, wore a dark gray spot about eye level where thousands if not millions of tourists had touched it just to see how sharp it really was). I found myself standing before it, not as tourist . . . but as an employee on my first day of work.
It all seemed a little overwhelming. How I ended up there still seems like a dream even today. Back in early 2001, while working in an art museum library in Nashville, Tennessee, I heard about the internships at the National Gallery of Art. They have quite the reputation in the art world. I bemused myself by daydreaming of one day being an intern there. At the time I heard about them I most certainly wasn’t a good candidate. I only had the one art museum gig under my belt and I still really lacked direction in my career ambitions. But fast forward to 2002. I was no longer working at the art museum library (the position was eliminated due to budget cuts) and I was no longer living in Nashville (I moved to Tucson to attend SIRLS). There’s probably nothing else like losing your job to really make you figure out what you want to do with your life. I realized several things: I wanted to continue working in an information provision setting, and I wanted to work with visual collections, specifically photographs. Because of those goals, I chose to immediately find my way in at the Center for Creative Photography as soon as I arrived on campus in Tucson. I started out as a volunteer and would go on to do an internship there. This critical experience was exactly what I needed to boost my resume to the level of D.C. intern candidate. So . . . six full months before June 9, 2003, I applied for an internship at the National Gallery of Art.