Why I love new media!


Editor's Note: The following post was written by a spring intern in New Media, the department that is responsible for bringing you this blog every week. If you're interested in interning with us, please apply (fall applications due July 1); if you'd like to volunteer rather than intern, please email us.

For the past four months, I have been interning with the Department of New Media. Here’s the official scoop on what we do up here on the fourth floor of the museum:

“Through innovative uses of technology, the Department of New Media facilitates interaction with the museum’s exhibitions, collections, and programs, both inside and outside the walls of the museum. Our goals are to enhance the visitor experience with appropriate technology; promote the museum and attract audiences; and facilitate object-based learning through electronic outreach.”

Mary Kate's Desk NMAH New Media

As I get my files ready for the next occupant of the best-corner-desk-ever (your monitor=the envy of all interns everywhere), I’d like to point out the top five reasons you want to intern here:

5. “It would really be great if . . . ” 

I absolutely LOVE getting a new assignment that I wasn’t expecting. It’s wonderful to walk in the door and hear, “MK, we need pictures of the fire hats on display in the Artifact Walls. Grab the camera.” Really? How cool is that? The answer you are looking for is: Pretty much amazing!

Firemen parade hats nmah

4. Statistical analysis 

What? Did she really write that? Yes, I did. Here, I was able to dive into Google Analytics and WebTrends to analyze and evaluate the fruits of my online efforts. Considering I avoided math classes like the plague in college, it says something that I enjoyed this. There are few jobs where you get to track your own progress and impact in real time.

3. Tweet, tweet

No, I didn’t commune with the birds on the National Mall. We’re talking Twitter. As the intern assisting with the museum’s social media efforts, you help select items for “This Day in History” messages, promote blog posts, chat about Foursquare check-ins, and answer visitor questions. Basically, the stuff many interns and employees are asked not to do (What are you doing on Twitter during work hours!?!) is what makes up the beginning and end of each day here.

Nmah backyard

2. Speaking of social media . . . Facebook! 

My brother has a theory: I am always on Facebook. Now, I get to tell him it’s necessary, and not cross my fingers while saying it. The museum uses Facebook to spark discussion about our blog posts, share news and photos, and relate “This Day in History” facts to our collections (also my contribution to the ongoing website redesign—stay tuned for the new site in June!). You really see my personal influence in picking things to feature each time you see a reference to Broadway or The Garden State.

This brings me to the number one reason you should want to intern in the Department of New Media . . .

1. They are the greatest people with whom I have ever had the privilege of working. 

Dana, Matt M., Dave, and Matt R. are all friendly, supportive, and real experts in their fields. The office felt like a second home in D.C. I always knew I could ask for feedback or help at any time. Hard work is rewarded with increased responsibilities and encouragement to try new things. I will be sad to leave my corner desk and not be able to swivel my chair around to chat with the team. Luckily, I know I can find them at any time in their social network!

Mary Kate du Laney is an intern in the Education and Interpretation and New Media departments at the National Museum of American History.