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The pandemic prevented an in-person program, but that didn’t stop our 2020 summer interns from building professional experience and developing valuable skills for the future.

Hi AAA community! Summer college interns Max, Katie, and Meghan here! We are quickly approaching the end of our internship and we are excited to report our progress and reflect on how this experience will prepare us for our future as anthropologists.

Summer interns get the unique opportunity to experience two different internships at the same time, by splitting time between the American Anthropological Association (AAA) office and our site location at either the Smithsonian Center for Folklife and Cultural Heritage (CFCH) or the Naval History and Heritage Command (NHHC). Through these unique experiences, interns have the opportunity to develop a variety of meaningful skills that prepare us for our futures in professional and academic settings. Meghan, who interned with CFCH this summer, has developed and expanded her research skills through the projects she’s been working on such as the AAA’s rapid mobilization platform for emerging infectious diseases and the traveling exhibit, World on the Move, a project led by both the CFCH and AAA: “These projects will reach many people in the future and I’m very fortunate to have had the opportunity to contribute to them.”

We’re all sure that the skills we’ve developed as interns will continue to benefit us in the future, and this has strengthened our interest in anthropology.

On top of our work at the AAA, we have been honing skills at our site locations doing historical research and using software programs, which will provide valuable skill sets that we’ll continue to use as students and professionals, long after our internship is over. Max did not have much prior experience creating research questions and conducting research based on those questions. His internship with NHHC has given him new opportunities to become more familiar with Excel by utilizing the spreadsheet program as a means to consolidate and synthesize data.

COVID-19 changed our internship format and we didn’t get the opportunity to live in Washington, DC, like past interns. However, the AAA made sure to introduce us to all staff and they’ve made up for the lack of face-to-face communication with video calls. Despite the unusual circumstances of her internship this summer, Katie has found her experiences with the AAA and the NHHC very fulfilling: “I know that the skills I’ve made from researching archives as well as grant writing, drafting blogs, and writing emails to grantors will all be meaningful skills that will continue to be valuable to me in my future career or academic endeavors.”

The AAA has further prepared us for our future graduate studies and careers by helping us to develop résumés, build our interview skills, gain experience working in a virtual office setting, and collaborate on team projects. Max also made use of the opportunity to develop skills writing professional academic papers to be shared on the NHHC website. Now we can all say that we’re published authors!

We’re all sure that the skills we’ve developed as interns will continue to benefit us in the future, and this has strengthened our interest in anthropology. For Meghan, working with experienced professionals on meaningful, applied projects has encouraged her interest in applied medical anthropology and helped guide her decision to pursue a graduate degree. Katie feels she can move on to graduate school confident that the skills that she’s learned at the AAA will make her a better student and academic peer: “This internship has given me an invaluable experience to apply my skills as an anthropology student in a real-world setting. I know that I’ll be able to apply the skills I’ve gained as an intern to my future career goals as a historical site conservationist for the National Parks Service.”

Max Cameron is a rising senior at The State University of New York at Oswego (SUNY Oswego), majoring in anthropology and double minoring in geology and history.

Katie Kemp is a recent graduate from the University of Colorado at Boulder with a double major in anthropology and international affairs, and a minor in business entrepreneurship.

Meghan Ussing earned a BA in anthropology from the University of Alaska, Anchorage, in May 2020.

These AAA Summer Internship Program activities would not be possible without the donations of members and AAA supporters. You too can help create pathways to our field and accelerate the careers of promising anthropology students by making a contribution to support our internship program at

Cite as: Cameron, Max, Katie Kemp, and Meghan Ussing. 2020. “The Virtues of a Virtual Internship.” Anthropology News website, October 2, 2020. DOI: 10.14506/AN.1513