Summer Internships—Virtually

Working Remotely

By: Khayla Saunders

Originally Published in 2020

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“HI, MY NAME IS ____, I am from ____, I attend Delaware/Georgia/Tuskegee/Syracuse/Penn, and I want to be an anthropologist/foreign policy analyst/ curator/museum outreach coordinator/conservator,” repeated around the Zoom boxes over and over as we all sat our desks. The desk essentials? Coffee, refreshers, pens, notebooks, and some furry friends! The Penn Museum Summer 2020 Interns worked with several departments, including the Penn Cultural Heritage Center, Learning and Public Engagement, the American Section, and Development. The 12 interns did some fantastic programming and research to advance the Museum.

Headshot of Khayla Saunders.

Twice a week, we met virtually and participated in programming led by Stephanie Mach, Academic Engagement Coordinator. Over eight weeks, we learned about exhibitions, programming, and cultural property laws, and discussed pressing issues within the museum world, along with completing work for our departments. Some of the amazing projects done by the interns included an introduction to the Navajo first laugh ceremony, preliminary work for exhibitions, research on the illicit trafficking of objects, grant funding for future projects, and drafting sections of the 2019–2020 Annual Report, which I worked on.

We have all have been inspired to enter the museum world for many reasons—previous internships, high school engagement programs, or childhood interests. The Penn Museum brought us together this summer via Zoom to engage with one another. Most of us ran around a couple of minutes before meetings trying to detach ourselves from our favorite pair of sweats to slip into something a little classier. In those meetings, we often learned some fun and quirky things. For example, intern Anna S. recalls, “During one of the Zooms with the supervisor for my department, we were talking about research on heritage looting, and my supervisor told us that the fieldwork is limited in that area because when a group of researchers tried going into the field, they kept getting attacked by iguanas”!

Sarah giving a presentation on a video call.
Summer intern Sarah Reichard (now a Penn junior) worked with with Dr. Anne Tiballi, researching Andean collections excavated at Pachacamac.

Likiya giving a presentation on a video call.
Likiya Holiday is a recent graduate of Northern Arizona University with a B.A. in Anthropology. She worked with Dr. Lucy Fowler Williams on a collections and curatorial research project focused on Navajo material culture.

This virtual internship will surely be one to remember.

This virtual internship will surely be one to remember. Thankfully, the staff at the Museum have all been trying to make this experience as fun and interpersonal as possible. A few Zooms were simply meant for a coffee break to catch up to get to know one another. Hopefully, we will be able to gather in the Museum to visit for the first time or just to see some of the newly renovated galleries. One of the most anticipated visits for the interns is the Africa Galleries: the colors and curation look exquisite in pictures, and after talking about the renovations with the designers, many of us are eager to get in there!


Khayla Saunders worked as a Penn Museum Summer Intern with the Development department in June and July. She is a senior at Tuskegee University, majoring in visual arts and minoring in history.

Cite This Article

Saunders, Khayla. "Summer Internships—Virtually." Expedition Magazine 62, no. 3 (September, 2020): -. Accessed April 18, 2024. https://www.penn.museum/sites/expedition/summer-internships-virtually/


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