Internship: Washington State Archives

4th year OLS student Andy completed his internship with the Washington State Archives Puget Sound Regional Branch. He shares his thoughts on his experience below.

How does what you did or learned at your internship fit in with your career goals?

I like being one of the people responsible for physical inventory management, as in (for the Archives internship specifically) sorting files and filing boxes into and from a very large database stored in a vault. I also like being able to navigate incredibly complex organizational systems more and more easily, the more experience I have with them.

What skills that you acquired during the OLS program were useful to you at your internship?
As far as the Performance Indicators I’ve demonstrated during my internship:
Accountability and Reliability: I had to notify my internship supervisors of upcoming absences, such as when I thought I would need to attend the 2018 spring quarter job fair during possibly conflicting hours. It turned out that my hours didn’t conflict after all, but I felt it was right to notify my supers anyway.
Adaptability: I was given a surprise assignment and had to instantly readjust my schedule to give myself time to complete it.
Advocacy: I asked for accommodations I need: requesting my instructions in written form rather than oral delivery, because I don’t have the best oral memory.
Collaboration: I refile boxes and folios that everyone else in the office had put on the “refile cart” before I arrived
Communication: I speak at a reasonable volume in the open-plan office, where everyone else can hear me very clearly through no fault of theirs.
Independent Work: I’m expected to resume my work at my own pace, right where I left it from yesterday or from last week, without being prompted.
Leadership and Initiation: I start work without being prompted, I know exactly what I’m going to be doing that day
Open-Mindedness: I grew up as a “quiet kid”, not talking much, so not interrupting when other people are speaking is already second-nature to me. By now, I’m fairly good at finding the right moment to “catch the conversation ball” when someone says something that indicates they expect a response from me. I love working in diverse workplaces – I’m always trying to think of something to chat about, and yet I know not to distract my coworkers.
Participation: Related to Open-Mindedness above, I can balance speaking and listening – otherwise, what I’m having isn’t actually a conversation, it’s a lecture being interrupted by another lecture delivered at cross-purposes.
Physical Presence: I keep my hygiene business handled, and dress as expected for the workplace environment. I often listen to music with one earphone in, but if someone addresses me I pause it, take it out, and face them as long as we’re speaking.
Planning and Time Management: I’m expected to proceed on my own through a complex project that (so far) has been the largest project I’ve been given during the entire internship – I’m still working on it five and a half months later!
Professionalism: One of my neurological circumstances involves a deficit in processing behavioral input and unconscious or unspoken social cues – so “out in the world” I am always worrying (the good kind of worrying!) about how I present myself to other people. Politeness and patience cost me nothing and improve everyone’s experience with me. 
Punctual, Prepared, and Organized: I would not be able to survive “out in the world” without relying on habits and routines that help me – such as making sure everything I need for the next day is set out the night before, and giving myself enough time during my schedule to allow for life to throw me something unexpected, if it’s going to happen at all. (I’m always relieved when it doesn’t.)
Self-Directed Learner: I give details on this in the “special moment” section below.
Self-Improvement: I know that I can improve myself  I’ve had setbacks before, and I’ve had to learn from them what needs to change, and what feedback I should welcome from the sources where I can find it. Sooner or later I find a way to change successfully – it just takes practice.

Share one story or special moment that has special meaning to you from your internship:
Several times one of my coworkers in the Archives has come across an interesting historical artifact included in the files they’re cataloging, and we always take a minute or two to search the Internet about this artifact to try to place it in history. I love learning about pieces of history I never would have experienced if not for this person and their seemingly random (but always interesting) finds.

Andy finding items at his internship
Andy finding items at his intership


OLS Students complete a 200-hour internship in their 4th year of our program. We partner with local businesses to provide students an internship related to their career pathway. For more information on internships in our program, please visit our Internship Page.

You can learn more about becoming an OLS Student by registering for an Information Session.

Last Updated July 23, 2019