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How to Independently Arrange an Internship

A first-hand account of internships by an IUP Anthropology major.

When I first heard of internships, I had no idea that most of them are pre-arranged by the school, in places and institutions that are accustomed to accepting interns. I thought that getting an internship was completely up to me, and the process of independently finding an internship was part of my education.

So, it was in September that I first focused in my mind what type of internship experience I would like to have, and where. My interests have always been in prehistoric European peoples, and since I had gone to England the summer before, I found myself gravitating towards something concerning Celtic or pre-Celtic Britain. I was interested in the structures at Avebury and other megaliths, and so I read up on everything I could find on Neolithic megaliths in Britain in the library. I found seventeen books on the Neolithic and, while reading them, regularly stumbled upon the names of a few researchers in this area. I thought to myself that I would like to study under some of these people who seemed to be the experts in the field. From there, I found in the short biographies in their books where four of those researchers were employed. These people were Dr. Caroline Malone, Dr. Peter Ucko, Dr. Clive Gamble, and Dr. Julian Thomas. Dr. Malone taught at the University of Bristol, and the other three taught at the University of Southampton. I searched for more information on the Internet.

I first sought out Dr. Malone, as she had served as the curator of the museum at Avebury and had written a recent book on it. Through the LYNX Hypertext program on the Internet, I looked up the faculty at Bristol and found that she was still employed there, but her most recent activity in archaeology was in Etruscan Italy, an area in which I didn't have much interest.

From there, I looked up the faculty at Southampton, and found the three researchers in the Archaeology Department. There was also on the LYNX server, a listing for current research projects at Southampton. This was the goldmine. There was a brief description about the excavation that the department had done earlier at Bryn Celli Ddu on Anglesey, a Neolithic barrow. I had heard about this site in many books, and was quite excited about the prospect of participating in the further excavation of this place.

In early December, I wrote an e-mail letter to Dr. Julian Thomas, who was the project supervisor at Bryn Celli Ddu, giving a short description of who I was and what my interests were, and asked him if he was going to continue the excavation there in the coming summer. I also told him that I would send my resume by regular mail. On the fifteenth of December, I sent the resume along with a cover letter telling him more about myself and my interests and, mentioning that I had read his book Rethinking the Neolithic, offered some sympathy for his point of view. I didn't receive a reply from him until the eighteenth of January, after I returned from semester break. He had been at the World Archaeological Congress over the New Year, and sent an e-mail to me on the third of January, indicating that he wouldn't be working on Anglesey this summer, but at a late Neolithic henge monument at Pict's Knowe in Dumfrieshire, Scotland. He invited me to participate, but couldn't offer any paid positions or expenses except food and shelter. He also told me where on the Internet I could find the interim report of the preliminary excavation at Pict's Knowe that had been done the past summer. I downloaded the twenty-five pages of the report and read it over, then decided that I would be most interested in going with him there this summer.

I replied to his invitation on the twentieth of January, asking him for a firm letter of intent to accept me to be sent to my internship advisor. In the meantime, I consulted with the internship coordinator about how I was to go about the paperwork of an internship. I had to pay for my tuition to IUP, my airplane ticket, and other incidentals myself, and so went in search of grants and scholarships for that purpose. I first went to the Office of International Education. At that office, they told me about specific grants or scholarships for overseas internships.

Meanwhile, I was growing anxious that I hadn't received a reply to my e-mail to Dr. Thomas, so on the ninth of February I e-mailed him again, advising him that I had a deadline of the first of March 1995 to apply for the internship to my university. On the first of March, my Anthropology internship coordinator called Dr. Thomas by phone, and the following day I received a reply from him apologizing for the delay, that the details for funding were held up at his end, and he hadn't been in a position to make any firm promises until then. He indicated that I was welcome to come along and that a letter was in the mail to my internship coordinator indicating the acceptance. Now that I was sure of my position, I went to the Office of International Studies and got a brochure on overseas study, an application for an International Student ID card, and a checklist of things to do and prepare for my study abroad.

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