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Summer Internship at the Smithsonian

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Abby Heller, graduate student in anthropology, stands on the historic National Mall, the Smithsonian Institution to the left.

Abby Heller, graduate student in anthropology, stands on the historic National Mall, the Smithsonian Institution to the left.

At NC State, faculty members are actively engaged in providing students with opportunities to develop vocational skills and build connections beyond the classroom. The resulting experiences are critical to students’ abilities to both determine and establish the professional direction of their lives after graduation. Dr. Gingerich, an NC State Teaching Scholar in the Department of Sociology and Anthropology and Smithsonian Research Associate, is an advocate for providing students with these opportunities. Recently, he assisted anthropology graduate student Abigail Heller in obtaining a summer 2014 internship at the Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History (NMNH). Working in the Department of Anthropology and Education and Collections Department, her internship included:

– Extensive ancestral and historical research for Dr. Doug Owsley to determine biological and family information of individuals in a family vault (currently under repair and restoration) at Congressional Cemetery.

– Assisting in the organizing, cataloging and distributing of Naturalist Center library books across the NMNH departments, with a focus on selecting anthropological texts for the department and the volunteer library.

– Inventory and organization of artifacts in the new Q?rius young adult science education and learning lab; also responsible for collecting damaged artifacts for repair and assisted in repair of several biological specimens.

– Working with Dr. Gingerich to learn how to perform lithic analyses on flakes from the 13,000 year old levels of the Shawnee-Minisink site, excavated in Pennsylvania.

For Heller, the benefits of the internship were numerous. She says that working at the Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History was one of the best opportunities she’s had in school. “The people I was able to work with were great and offered so many suggestions about future employment ideas and other opportunities in DC. It was also a great chance to meet some well-known and successful scholars, and help them with their work. It was a bit challenging for the people I was working with to train a new team member in less than a week and to figure out the best projects for me to work on during my short time (4 weeks) at the Smithsonian. The internship definitely gave me networking opportunities and helped me get to know some well-established people in the field. Additionally, I got some good insights about future career potentials and ideas to make my resume stand out.”

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