Liberal Arts Career Services
Liberal Arts Career Services

UT Briscoe Center for American History

Fall 2018

Position: Intern
Student: Plan II & IRG Senior

I am an undergraduate intern at the Briscoe Center for American History at the University of Texas at Austin. My primary duties include processing incoming collections and aiding the Center in exhibition and curatorial work.

For students unfamiliar with archives or librarianship, most of that last sentence might seem like foreign concepts. As an American history research center, the Briscoe acquires ‘collections’ (materials relating to a particular topic, event, or person) for research purposes. The goal of processing is to catalog the contents, re-organize materials to ensure preservation, and organize the collection in a way that makes sense for research purposes. The process sounds simple, but it can get complex when you are dealing with a dozen or so boxes of research materials that need to be sorted through.

The reality of my day-to-day work varies a lot depending on what I am doing and how far in a collection I am. In the beginning, I comb through materials, then move on to preservation, re-organization, then inputting the materials into online archival databases so they are searchable for whoever might be looking to study them. I work under minimal supervision, checking in with my supervisor and colleagues when I have questions. The Briscoe has struck a great balance with me between allowing me freedom to work independently but also checking up every so often and being receptive to whatever questions or concerns I have in performing my work.

Overall, I have learned a great deal throughout my time at the Briscoe and have grown to love archival work. It can seem tedious at times, but the Center has a wide array of materials spanning Texas and American history. In allowing me relative freedom in choosing which collections I work on, I am able to ensure that I find my work both interesting and edifying.

Spring 2016 

Position: Senior Metadata Intern
Student: Liberal Arts Honors Senior

As to be expected, the Briscoe Center for American History delivered an educational, engaging, and professionally beneficial internship. The digital humanities are a blossoming field. Thus, it has become increasingly important that students gaining a liberal arts education verse themselves in the technology surrounding the modern world. This internship does just that. Chris Newfield, a leading scholar in the critical universities field, argues that none commercial tech must be injected into the liberal education for it to be considered universally liberal today. The Briscoe understands this and does a brilliant job of education its interns through technological conduits while still showcasing classical cataloging systems and educating interns on the world of archival practices.

While the work itself, at times, becomes tedious the lessons learned outweigh the unpleasant aspects of the workplace. The paid compensation also helps to elevate any unpleasantness. Moreover highly educated, empathetic, and engaging supervisors double as academic coaches, editors, and mentors at the office. The project lead has taught at the university level before coming onboard with the Briscoe Center while our intern supervisor holds two masters degrees and decades of professional experience. Meaning that these two have fathoms of advice for undergraduates like myself. The work allows for a comprehensive and experiential education. Interns work with metadata in every stage of its journey from paper to screen.

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    University of Texas at Austin
    FAC 18
    2304 Whitis Ave. Stop G6200
    Austin, Texas 78712-1508