By Umema Aimen ’14
When it was time for Tatum Lindsay ’14, a peer career advisor at MHC’s Career Development Center (CDC), to search for a suitable internship opportunity for the summer, she found herself in a quandary. She wanted something that would match, if not outshine, the experience she had last summer interning at the Smithsonian Libraries.
Lindsay wanted a truly meaningful experience that would allow her to learn about her passion, libraries.
“I knew how to find quality internships that would contribute significantly to my career development—not just give me the ‘experience of a lifetime’ fetching coffee or making copies,” she said. With this in mind, she approached her supervisor at the Smithsonian to talk about returning there for another summer.
“[My supervisor] worked very closely with me to develop a learning contract to ensure that I met my goals for a substantial educational experience. We established a list of projects for the summer that fulfilled both of our expectations.”
Working at the Smithsonian Libraries’ advancement office, Lindsay focused on two projects. She tackled an endowment project that consisted of creating a new section for the Smithsonian Libraries website: a portfolio with summaries for more than 30 endowments. This section of the website now offers a list of current endowments, their descriptions, and testimonials from donors and staff members. People can see how each of the endowments is crucial in preserving and expanding the libraries’ collections.
Lindsay says the writing skills she developed at CDC while helping students with their résumés and cover letters aided her in developing the new section of the website and in marketing the project on the website and in social media. The strong interpersonal skills she cultivated at CDC came in handy when Lindsay met with donors and staff because, “There are many different kinds of donors–just like there are many different kinds of students who use the CDC’s services.”
The second project Lindsay worked on was America’s Family Album, a fascinatingly creative fundraising project. This Smithsonian-wide digital philanthropy project invited visitors to the Smithsonian museums and research centers to upload photos of their experience to an America’s Family Album website. For each photo uploaded, the Ford Foundation pledged $5 to the Smithsonian, and the participating visitors have a chance to be featured in a Smithsonian exhibit on the National Mall in 2014.
Each unit (libraries, archives, research centers, and museums) contributed to America’s Family Album. Lindsay was responsible for coordinating the libraries’ participation and representation in the project.
“It was my baby!” she proudly declared. “I wrote all the social media, including tweets, blog posts, and Facebook posts. I was the person behind the ‘face’ of the Smithsonian Libraries on America’s Family Album. I managed that public image.”
Lindsay also encouraged the Smithsonian Libraries “virtual” community on social media to vote for their favorite picture in America’s Family Album.
“Through my social media engagement, the libraries reached the most people and had the most participants in the voting campaign of any unit or museum,” she said. “Pretty good, right?
“Working at the Smithsonian was truly an experience of a lifetime.”