Today was my last day at the internship I worked at this semester. Even though I am currently swamped with finals, I am really sad to not be going back there every week. This semester I was lucky enough to score an internship at the Costume Institute at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in the collections department. Basically, the interns’ job was to label and keep track of all of the costumes being integrated from the Brooklyn Collection. I got to see (and touch!) so many one of kind pieces, including some that were more than one hundred years old. I think the best part of this internship was seeing first hand how museum collections work, and meeting all the other interns I worked with. I was the only undergraduate in the program and I learned so much from the girls who worked with me. Most were already in the Museum Studies masters program at FIT or NYU and knew an incredible amount about fashion history. My inner nerd was always psyched to sit around our sewing table just talking about the different art exhibits we had seen over the weekend and debating the nuances of costume design versus commercial fashion design.
It is important to like your internship if you are going to have one while in school. There is a huge debate right now about the ethics of having unpaid interns, but like it or not, internships are expected by potential employers. Now, as an intern, especially an unpaid one, you should never feel like you can’t miss a day of work in order to keep up with schoolwork. However, if you like the internship and the people you work with, the experience can be extremely rewarding. Besides making contacts in the industry and learning valuable skills that will put you miles ahead of other job applicants, internships let you test out possible career paths. As much as I loved my internship at the Met, I now think that maybe collections wouldn’t be the perfect department for me, but maybe curatorial would be a better fit. As long as you are getting actual experience at the internship and not being taken advantage of, internships are an invaluable resource that are relatively easy to come by in New York City.