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AAA Interns Share Their Experiences on Living and Working in the Nation’s Capital

This summer, AAA is hosting two interns: Melissa Campbell-McIntosh and Juliana Bennington. In this blog post, Melissa shares her feelings about her first week in Washington, DC.

Hi, my name is Melissa and I am one of the two interns selected to work for the American Anthropological Association (AAA) this summer. I would like to start by briefly introducing myself. I am entering into my senior year at Saint Mary’s College of California in Moraga, CA, located in the beautiful San Francisco Bay Area. My major is Anthropology with a concentration in Archaeology. I am particularly interested in Maritime Archaeology, Collections Management, and Cultural Resource Management. I have worked for the past two years as an assistant to the Archivist at my school. This has allowed me to apply my scholarly interests in a practical setting.

Once I heard of the internship being offered by the AAA in partnership with the Underwater Archaeology Branch (UAB) of the Naval History & Heritage Command (NHHC), I knew I had to apply. I was confident that I was well qualified for this opportunity; however, I was not going to allow myself to get my hopes up until I knew for sure. I had never applied for an internship before and I figured at the very least I would walk away from this with some much needed practice in applying for future internships or research grants. Getting my congratulatory e-mail was one of the most thrilling experiences, second only to being accepted at Saint Mary’s.

Being accepted to this program brings with it a fair amount of pressure. Working for the AAA and the UAB entails representing these organizations, my school, the Anthropology Department, and my professors. I also wish to use this experience to enrich my knowledge base and gain more skills I can use in the future.

Since arriving in Washington, D.C and beginning my internship on July 6, 2011, I have been exposed to a wide variety of tasks and experiences. Working at the AAA offices has afforded me the opportunity to utilize social media outlets to promote my passion for all things Anthropology. This experience has allowed me to bring awareness to the processes of governmental funding which can greatly impact scientific research within the social sciences.

The other portion of my internship takes place at the Navy Yards where I work with Archaeologists and Conservationists at the Underwater Archaeology Branch of the Naval History & Heritage Command. This organization is responsible for acting in stewardship of all naval aircraft and vessel wreck sites that remain underwater and for preserving and housing all artifacts that have been excavated. Excavations of sites are only undertaken when intervention is required to preserve artifacts that are under threat; this can be due to environmental instability or human interference of the site.

I have been able to assist in the inventory of artifacts, conservation of artifacts, and promotion of the projects that are currently underway using social media outlets. On Monday July 18, I will be headed out to the field for the first time. The UAB is excavating the USS Scorpion, a War of 1812 ship that is located beneath the Pawtuxet River in Maryland. I will be able to aid the divers from atop a research barge and document any artifacts that are brought to the surface. Once the excavation team returns to base we will begin processing the artifacts to ensure that proper conservation methods are initiated immediately.

I would like to thank Saint Mary’s College and my professors for preparing me so well, I would not be where I am today if it were not for the remarkable educational experience I have had. I would also like to thank Damon Dozier and the entire staff at the AAA; I know that my future is much brighter now that I have been able to expand my horizon through gaining practical experience within a field which is so dear to me: Anthropology.

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