Overall, my internship experience was an overwhelmingly positive one. Although I was a little nervous about all of the commute time between Bloomington and Indianapolis, I found the drives actually went by relatively quickly (it helped that I often left before or after the normal 4-5:30pm rush hour traffic hit). I also was able to stay with friends in Indy one night every week, which allowed me to sleep a little more and get some work done at their house rather than driving home and back up to Indy within a span of fewer than 12 hours. The internship itself was a really positive learning experience and I enjoyed getting to know Angela, Denise, and the rest of the staff in the Archives – everyone was so friendly and was always willing to offer help (and sweets!). Although the digital inventory took longer than I had expected to create, it was a worthwhile experience and gave me some insight into the research and process that has to happen in order to make a convincing case for additional funding.
I would highly recommend an internship at the Ruth Lilly Special Collections and Archives up at IUPUI to other library students in the future – my supervisors, Angela and Denise, went above and beyond to make me feel supported and the projects that I worked on were all interesting. If I could do it over, I might have tried to rearrange my schedule a bit to observe a few more instruction sessions and see how Angela, Denise, and other librarians teach classes. However, I feel like I gained a lot of experience in a short period of time and was happy that everything went so well this semester.
As far as logistics go, I felt that 120 hours was a reasonable requirement for the internship – nearing the end, I even wished I could complete a few more hours just to put the finishing touches on a couple of projects! For students in the future who might want to do an internship here and are nervous about the frequent commute, I would recommend seeing if there’s anyone you could stay with one or two nights every week – I stayed with some friends in Indy on Monday nights (since I worked until 6pm on Mondays and went back in at 7:30 on Tuesday mornings) and that really helped me feel more well-rested and enthusiastic about the work day. I would also recommend finding a good balance between professional and functional attire – I dressed pretty nicely the first few days but quickly realized that in order to climb step ladders, push carts, carry boxes, and and power-walk the stacks to find materials, I would need to wear sturdier shoes (like sneakers) so I wasn’t constantly tripping over myself. I got into the habit of wearing a nice top or sweater with jeans and sneakers so that I could move freely while still looking work-appropriate. I really hope that more students choose to make a connection with the Archives and do their internships there, as it was a great experience for me! I’m incredibly happy to be returning there in the spring for a few hours every week to assist with processing some manuscript collections and can’t wait to work with everyone again!