Wednesday, June 12, 2013

Hot Times, Summer in the City: Their Child moves to New York and takes on 2 genealogy internships

I am now half way through my second week in New York... Oh, wait! I didn't tell you?

Marine archaeologists at work on the
slave ship Troubador's wreck site.
So, as a MA student in Brown University's Public Humanities program, I am required to take on a summer internship. Before coming to Brown my master plan had originally been to quit my job at the Smithsonian, quickly fly through my MA at Brown, and immediately return to the Smithsonian where I would jump into a job that would eventually funnel me into a curator position. So, I originally planned to do my summer internship back at my old museum job. I had grown interested in slave ship wrecks and fantasized about spending the summer months hunting through the archives of Capetown, South Africa, occasionally taking day trips to an actual shipwreck site to, if I was lucky, throw on a wet suit and dive.

But then... this past semester a series of unfortunate, but later turned out to be fortunate, events occurred that sent me spiraling headlong into some sort of pre-mid-life crises. Once I pulled myself together and reevaluated my goals, strengths, skills and passions I realized that I had a lot of incredible options I had been ignoring out of sheer faithfulness to my original goal. So instead of taking the safe route of returning to my old job and jumping into what would have been a perfectly interesting research internship in the curatorial department (which I had already done previously), I decided to stretch myself. found an ad on Craigslist for an unpaid internship at a documentary film company. They wanted someone interested in working on Henry Louis Gates' upcoming black history mini series called Many Rivers to Cross. I jumped at the chance and immediately sent in my resume and cover letter even though the ad was 20 days old. When no one responded I started brainstorming new ways to get the internship anyway. Backup plan: Stalk Henry Louis Gates. I found an old friend from high school on facebook who was working in Brooklyn as a film editor and asked if he had any contacts at the company. Coincidentally he did and he sent my resume over right away.

When a week went by without response, I went back to "da internets" and started looking for an internship related to genealogy. This would take me even further away from my old plans of becoming a curator, but I figured, why not see what happens? Besides I had told myself that I would be a certified genealogist by the time I finished my MA. I quickly found another NY internship. This time it was at the New York Genealogical & Biographical Society in Manhattan. The internship looked pretty amazing. Four days a week I would work on the society's genealogy related projects (tbd) then the fifth day I would work on a genealogy project based on my own family history. Pay-$100 a week :( but better than nothing.

I applied to the NYG&B then quickly emailed my friend in Brooklyn to ask if he had heard anything from his friend at Ark Media. Turns out there had been a little delay in turning in my resume. My friend sent his friend a reminder and by that afternoon they they had emailed me to do a phone interview! The interview went amazingly well. Even though they had already hired all the interns they needed on the original project they had a new project they thought may be a better fit. I was offered an internship to work on another Henry Louis Gates series for PBS, Finding Your Roots. I of course said yes! It was like a dream. I would be working on a genealogy television show! Then surprisingly the next day I had a very lovely phone call with a woman at the NYG&B and she asked me to intern with them too, even if only for one day a week. I was shocked. They wanted me to intern with them so badly even a few hours dedicated to their organization would be great. So of course I said yes! I could figure out the scheduling later.

So fast forward one month.....

I am half way through my second week in NY and I'm in love. Not with a handsome young man but with a city, and a life and two amazing opportunities. It has been a balancing act but I
am gonna make it.

More details to come!


  1. So you have two internships in New York? One in Brooklyn working on the PBS series Finding Your Roots, and another at the the New York Genealogical and Biographical Society in Manhattan? Wow, wow, wow. Congratulations on your initiative and your ability to be flexible and perform a "balancing act" with these two wonderful opportunities!

    Your boldness and reaching out will be so worth it, I'm sure. Good for you!

  2. I'm jealous! I've been working on genealogy for 35 years and I'm still jealous... Congratulations and have a wonderful summer!

  3. Thank you! I have had so much work to do I haven't had much time to keep up with my blog. I have had a lot of fun and there is so much to learn. Thanks for following!