One of the hardest parts about working in the real world is realizing that my entire wardrobe is completely insufficient for my internship. Apparently, leggings and sweatshirts do not pass as business casual. Luckily for my lazy girl taste, my internship workplace is actually quite casual, which means no pant suits or pantyhose for me. I did have to do a little shopping though.
I am at desk for most of the day, but I also do a lot of walking on tours and visiting different collections departments. It is also hot and humid in D.C. during the summer, but can be cold in the collections areas. I needed a wardrobe that would be professional for my role, but also comfortable for commuting and hot days. I am also on a budget, so I needed to shop smart. I headed to Target, Kohl’s, and TJMaxx for a fashion make over. I went with sleeveless tops for the warm weather, some linen tops and some more professional fabric tops. That’s actually how I refer to them, I’m not even sure what fabric it really is. I also went with cropped pants to stay professional but again combat the heat, and also because my office is casual. I can even wear jeans! This internship just keeps getting better! For a girl who doesn’t know fashion and spends 5 minutes to pick out an outfit, having easy wardrobe choices was essential for me. A solid pant with a patterned top makes every outfit look professional and fashionable with trying too hard to make a statement. I also have a few dresses for when it is really hot, which are even easier to dress up. If you haven’t noticed by now, for me it is mostly practicality and ease for how I dress.
As for shoes, I learned the hard way that flats are not my friend. First day blisters that took two weeks to heal meant I could not wear flats to work for two weeks. Instead, I wore my Steve Madden slip ons. They are leather with a stitched pattern, making them fashionable but also professional enough to wear to work. They are comfortable and perfect for commuting. No blisters, no problem!
Having to wear business professional would be a nightmare every day. I still feel as if I am a twelve year old dressing up in her mom’s clothing when I wear anything close to business professional. Someday I will need learn how to style business professional for myself, but for now, I am happy with the business casual/casual work attire.
I have an NMNH embossed padfolio, so I would say I am pretty powerful. And with my padfolio comes the responsibility of Activities and Events Leader, planning and coordinating behind-the-scenes tours, events, activities, and socials for all Natural History interns. This includes working with four other interns who are all fun and friendly (thank God!).
I love my internship—walking down Constitution every day and seeing the massive golden dome that sits on top of the Natural History like a beacon calling me home. In my third week, I feel settled in my role and confident in my abilities to execute my responsibilities. Every morning, I start with a mug of tea (a climate change mug that has the museum emblem on it no less!), and then I sit down with my colorful pens and create a to-do list for the day. It is mostly mundane tasks, like sending emails, updating calendars, and meeting with my supervisor. But sometimes, I get to write down a really exciting task, like tour of the Forensic Anthropology Collection. The curator, Doug Owsley contributed his forensic knowledge in the Jeffery case, working on the first victim! I find the work that the Forensic Anthropology department does fascinating. It’s no Bones, but it is close enough. Since my job description includes walking tour groups through the expansive and confusing back hallways of collections, I also get to practice finding my way around the building and collections. Catch me casually walking through Paleobiology, or Entomology, or Mineral Sciences—just kidding, Mineral Sciences is protected by about 5 layers of security clearance which I (a lowly intern) do not have access to. My job is so cool though that I will one day get to lead a group into Mineral Sciences’ Blue Room, where they keep all the exhibit grade gems, jewels, gold, and other minerals! Again, with the great responsibility cliché.
Working at the National Museum of Natural History has been a goal of mine since Freshman year of high school, and now that it is finally real I feel myself needing to take a step back and really appreciate the opportunity that I have been given. It has been a whirlwind of two and a half weeks, but every day I am stunned by the exterior of the building and I pause to take in my surroundings and the fact that I am one of the lucky two hundred (out of thousands of applicants) who gets to intern at the NMNH.
I slowly turn my alarm off and check the time. Waking up at 6am is hell.
I lethargically sit up and groan. I have not been up this early since Christmas morning. There won’t be any presents waiting for me downstairs this morning though. Just a few Tupperwares with today’s lunch. It takes me an hour to wake up my brain and put myself together for my first day at the National Museum of Natural History. My chauffeur (actually the friend that I am staying with for the next two weeks) generously drives me to the metro stop, where I pass by the free newspaper in favor of Spotify—a mistake I would soon rectify.
The 40 minute Metro ride gave me ample time to prepare for my first morning, and by prepare I mean freak out with everything that could go wrong. There was no need. I may have walked to the wrong entrance the first morning, but everything else was smooth sailing from there (lol). I immediately felt welcomed by the other staff members and my supervisor. And then it was time to work. I was thrown into my new position with a lot of responsibility and figuring things out on my own. I learned to take constructive criticism quickly and to check myself before asking questions with answers easily accessible on the computer. With Friday over, I felt like I had been here for a month, not a week.
I am slowly, but also quickly, adjusting to my pseudo adult life in a new city. I am packing all my lunches and figuring out how to eat healthy without sacrificing my first-born child. I started reading the newspaper on the Metro because I am in Washington D.C. so I should probably keep up on what is going on. I have successfully learned to navigate the Metro and feel confident enough to give random strangers directions, though I’m told that can be a ruse for theft so maybe I’ll go back to waiting for the Metro with my RBF on.
I still feel like a squatter, being in my friend’s house for two weeks. Soon though, I will be moving into an apartment in the city where I will have to fend for myself—no more home cooked meals every night made for me. But, I will be closer to work and to all the happenings! I am excited to make new friends and immerse myself in the local culture. So far, I can really see myself in this city.