Internships: not just for college undergrads!
We are often asked if high school students can serve an internship at the Smithsonian. And while this varies across programs and placements, and completely depends on the staff member who will serve as the internship sponsor and student mentor, the answer is often yes! High school students with appropriate knowledge and background are eligible for consideration and placement across many possibilities. For example, meet NMNH High School Summer intern Jordan Bloem, from Poolesville High School in Maryland.
During the summer of 2012 I had the unique opportunity to work under Dr. Steve Lingafelter in the NMNH Department of Entomology as part of the Coleoptera group an din particular with an incredible variety of Cerambycidae.
I’ve always had a fascination with biology, so being able to work with specimens as diverse and stunning as long-horned beetles was exceptional. Furthermore, the work environment was very comfortable due to the accommodating staff.
As an intern in Entomology, I assisted with curating collections; some of which had specimens from the 1700’s! The curation process involved taking old collections that are, for the most part, unorganized so my part was to alphabetizing them so as to make them more easily available. Usually this is done one family of beetles at a time, but there are exceptions and challenges that I had to overcome throughout the process. After alphabetization, I organized the drawers to allow room for new specimens to come into the collection. Finally, I entered the organized collection(s) into a database. This gave me satisfaction, knowing that this contributes to the availability of knowledge surrounding long-horned beetles (hooray!).
In addition, I also helped photograph some PREVIOUSLY UNKNOWN species of cerambicids under high magnification in to aid in helping scientists identify them. This also had it’s own challenges, such as adjusting the lighting to get the perfect picture.
Above all else, the ultimate perk of my internship came from being see to the “Oh My!” collection of the Coleoptera department, a collection of extremes. I wish I could tell you more about the collection and my amazing internship, but perhaps you’ll have to become an intern to experience it yourself. 🙂