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Internship Spotlight: Calvin Bader '20, Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History

Calvin Bader '20 is spending his summer as a research assistant at the Smithsonian, where he works with hundreds of artifacts a day. Learn how he's feeling well-prepared for his future.

Calvin Bader '20 works with hundreds of artifacts a day as a research assistant/intern at the Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History.


Italian, archaeology.

Internship title and location:

Research assistant/intern, Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History, Arctic Studies Center.

How I got this internship:

I got this internship by networking with a guest lecturer at Dickinson who ended up giving me the internship, and I worked with him closely during my time at the museum.

What I do, day to day:

My main job was updating the artifact catalog of the artifacts present at the museum from archaeological excavations in Labrador, Canada. This meant I was handling hundreds of artifacts a day to properly identify them and then confirm that they were at the museum in a database with thousands of artifacts listed in it. I had to make sure each artifact was properly labeled, sorted and in the right place. This involved lots of background research so I could properly recognize tools from various time periods in Arctic prehistory and various peoples and cultures. I also helped with basic administrative tasks such as giving small tours to visiting archaeologists and attending various seminars, including one with a research panel of the topic underwater archaeologists in North America.

Other internships:

Last year I was an intern with the National Parks Service Archaeology Department at their Museum Resource Center in Landover, Maryland. This gave me a great first taste of the world of archaeology. I had a great job that combined artifact management like my job at the Smithsonian but also involved planning for community-outreach events.

Most valuable part of this experience:

The ability to interact with a variety of artifacts allowed me to expand my knowledge of Arctic archaeology and the cultures that occupied the Arctic regions. Also, the ability to interact with professionals and academics at the very top of their specializations was amazing and they gave me many ideas on how to use my own education in the professional and academic worlds.

Advice for students considering internships:

Be bold! Always try to network and create contacts with people because you never know when you might meet someone who could set you on the path to your dream job. Also, always be open to new opportunities, even if they don't line up with your expectations of an internship. Taking a chance on an internship could lead somewhere you never knew it could.

How this internship has helped me:

It has given me a glimpse into the workings of professional archaeologists and museum operations at one of the best museums in the world. I also have a new drive to explore topics and regions of the world that you wouldn’t normally think would be great for archaeology, such as the Arctic. My internship has given me organizational and archaeological skills that will be very applicable to any job I get after Dickinson.

Post-Dickinson plans:

I am applying for a Fulbright to conduct archaeological research in Italy after I graduate, so if I receive the award, that would be my plan for just after graduating. Otherwise, I am really open to what post-grad life is going to look like for me. I am really interested in filmmaking, and I am a certified drone pilot, so I may look for jobs in the film business using my drone skills. Or I might continue my pursuit of archaeology with some of the many amazing archaeologists that I worked with and met in the past few years. I can’t really say for certain what I’m going to do after Dickinson, but that is why I am so excited!

Learn more about internships at Dickinson.


Published August 7, 2019