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Hi, we are this year’s members of the AAA’s Louise Lamphere Internship Program, Yue and Jasmin. We are writing this piece to tell about our experiences from this past summer. The Louise Lamphere internship allows interns to experience two different internships at the same time. For six weeks, we spent 40 percent of our time at the American Anthropological Association (AAA) office and 60 percent of our time at partner institutions: the Smithsonian Center for Folklife and Cultural Heritage (CFCH) and the Naval History and Heritage Command (NHHC).  

Yue interned at the CFCH and spearheaded a team of interns to design, administer, and analyze 400+ surveys and 25 interviews during the annual Smithsonian Folklife Festival. At AAA, her major responsibility was revamping the “Major in Anthropology” poster.  

Jasmin interned at the NHHC’s Underwater Archaeology Branch (UAB) and assisted in updating the UAB’s public outreach on the Navy Yard by creating posters to highlight ongoing and recent projects, specifically on the shipwreck sites of the Revolutionary War gunboat USS Spitfire and War of 1812 commodore Joshua Barney’s flagship Scorpion. She also spent time at the NHHC’s UAB documenting artifacts from their considerable historical collection in their laboratory. At the AAA office, Jasmin updated a AAA report on completed bachelor’s degrees in anthropology from the years 2017 to 2021 by creating visualizations using recent numbers from public data. 


Jasmin: The Potluck  

A highlight from my internship was the ability to meet and learn from so many wonderful anthropologists and like-minded professionals. One of the most memorable events was the retirement party for AAA’s then executive director, Ed Liebow. Only a couple weeks into the internship, Yue and I were invited to join the staff and their families at this event in Virginia. After a week or so of testing the Earl Gray cookie recipe Yue had suggested for the potluck in our apartment’s small toaster oven, we perfected the technique. Yue and I were looking forward to meeting everyone we hadn’t had the chance to meet in-office, in addition to chatting casually with those we had met. After taking the metro rail to meet with our designated chauffeur and my intern mentor, Meagan, we realized there was a difference between the “Pentagon” and “Pentagon City” metro stops. Luckily, they’re only one stop apart. 

We met up with Meagan and her husband, Max, and after discussing the internship as well as the Bible Museum, we made it to the park, where some had already gathered and begun getting the grills ready. As more people arrived and brought their dishes, we realized that no one had mentioned bringing utensils. Thankfully, after many introductions and conversations surrounding our internship projects and backgrounds, we learned that Erin, Ed’s wife, had spare forks that we could use while waiting for the delivery of utensils. I was able to hear many extraordinary stories from Erin and Nabina, Ed and Erin’s daughter, and Erin and I were able to bond over what museum-collection aspirations I am looking to pursue and Erin’s professional past in those positions.  

This internship introduced me to so many interesting people and career paths, but I truly enjoyed speaking to everyone and getting to know everyone more at this event. I think I can speak for both of us in saying that Yue and I appreciated how welcomed we were into the AAA and how we hope these connections last us into the future! 

Yue: Beyond Surveys at the Folklife Festival 

The highlight of my internship was the annual Folklife Festival hosted by the CFCH. At the festival, my main responsibility was to evaluate visitors’ experience through surveys and interviews. Over nine days, I conducted over a hundred surveys and about ten interviews. I particularly enjoyed the public-facing nature of my work, which allowed me to interact and talk with people of all ages and walks of life. Additionally, as a surveyor, I had the flexibility to walk around the festival site, partake in different activities, participate, and observe, which enabled me to stand in the visitors’ shoes to understand their experiences.  

Despite the daily survey target, I always enjoyed engaging in conversations beyond the survey questions and establishing personal connections with my interviewees. One particularly heartwarming episode happened when I surveyed an 80-year-old woman who was visiting the festival with her daughter. I approached her when she was sitting alone on a bench, taking a break from the heat. When I asked about her festival experience, she didn’t rate it too highly because the hot weather and her health prevented her from fully enjoying the event. Despite her disappointing festival experience, we had a lively conversation, and even digressed to talk about repatriation of art pieces. The last survey question asked visitors to use one word to describe their festival experience, and the woman surprised me by saying “Fantastic.” As I looked confused, she added, “because I had a wonderful time chatting with my interviewer.” As we said goodbye, she looked me in the eye and said, “Thank you for talking to me. You made my day.” Her heartfelt words brightened my day as well.  

Although I can’t recount all such encounters in this piece, similar interactions occurred almost daily, transforming each survey into an unexpected yet pleasant encounter with a unique individual.  

Interested in interning next year? We have advice for you:  

  • If you are interested in applying, don’t hesitate to do it. Jasmin didn’t even think she could get the internship, but she did.  
  • If you weren’t picked the first time you applied and are still interested, go for it. Yue was picked the second time she applied.  
  • If you want to go into the job market after completing your undergraduate degree but are not sure about what future career path to take, this is the internship for you. The Pathway to Careers series gives you the opportunity to meet and discuss careers with different association staff. Additionally, you will be able to meet with your mentor weekly to discuss what you are interested in and where you could best apply your skills following the internship or after graduation. 
  • If you want to put your classroom training into practice, definitely apply. Yue applied and expanded on the research skills she learned in class to survey 400+ visitors and analyze the data. Jasmin used a combination of her IT skills in conjunction with quantitative research skills to organize and make the IPEDS report data interpretable.  

We have learned and grown so much through the internship. A fascinating world of anthropology was opened to us, revealing numerous career possibilities. Looking forward, we are confident that we can apply the skills we gleaned in future endeavors, whether in academic or professional settings. 


Yue Ma

Yue Ma is a rising senior at Washington University in St. Louis, double majoring in anthropology and global studies.  

Jasmin Reed

Jasmin Reed is a rising senior at Plymouth State University, majoring in anthropology and sociology as well as pursuing a GIS certificate. 

Cite as

Ma, Yue and Jasmin Reed. 2024. “A Tale of Two Internships .” Anthropology News website, February 6, 2024.