Digital Internship During the Covid-19 Pandemic

Adrienne Goodwyn

Coming into this internship I was a little scared. This was happening during Covid-19 and I was worried about if I was going to be able to get an internship. It was one of the last things I needed to graduate in the fall, so I was very stressed out about if I would be able to find one or not.

Around June of 2020 I received an email for a digital internship categorizing Siberian photographs on a website called Zooniverse. This website works with countries who have a hard time keeping their documents, pictures, etc. protected. Zooniverse also works with the Endangered Archives program, which the countries get in contact with before their documents show up on the Zooniverse website. When I got the email, I was very excited. I was glad that not only would I be able to work safe from home, but I would also be able to set my own schedule. This also worked well for me because during the fall I had three other classes as well, so having to ride out to an internship site, commute to school/do my school work, and work at my part-time job would have been difficult to juggle. This internship was the best outcome for me.

During the start of my internship I realized how easy it would be to get distracted. I live with my family and partner, so there were many opportunities to get distracted. However, even with those distractions I made myself concentrate, so I could put 100% of my time into these pictures. Even though I was one of around 100 volunteers, I still wanted to put effort into my work. This was something the people in Siberia did not have the time or resources to do themselves, so I knew my work was going to be helpful. In September I ran into a problem. I started getting pictures I had already categorized. I would have to constantly refresh the page, to try and make a new picture some up. After almost a week of this problem I asked my advisor if I could change Zooniverse projects. There were many others that needed volunteers, so I thought a switch would still be helpful. After I got the okay, I started on a project called Fossil Atmospheres, where I had to mark stomatal cells in plant cells. Both of these projects felt rewarding to me. I realized this archiving is fun and interesting even if it is tedious to do.

I believe the classes I took during the Spring semester of 2020 helped me with this internship the most. When writing my theme papers, I was able to draw on techniques from my Research Methods class, as well as my Human Origins class to help me with my research. After college I would like to work at a museum or even the Botanical Gardens, and I think the work I did in my internship will build the way towards those jobs. This was a rewarding experience for me and I am glad, that even in the midst of Covid, I was able to receive my Zooniverse internship.

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