Intern Hoang Tran Shares His Experience Working in the University Archives
Article by: Hoang Tran
For the past 4 months, I’ve worked as an archival processing intern at Drexel University Archives. Writing this marks the end of my internship here at the Archives where my primary task was to arrange and describe collections of historic material. Largely I processed materials, which involves arranging, describing, and creating finding aids for each collection—wash, rinse, and repeat. While to some this may sound boring and repetitive, personally, my time at Drexel has only reaffirmed my decision to become an archivist.
As I move forward in my career, I want to take the opportunity to reflect on some of the things that I learned during my internship.
When I first started working at Drexel, I had a difficult time adjusting to the local standards and practices. Before coming to Drexel, I worked on a year-long processing project which required item-level work with ephemera and photographic materials. However, processing a large and complex university collection efficiently required minimal-processing in the spirit of the archival approach known as "More Product, Less Process" (commonly known as MPLP). It was a challenge to change my habits, but this internship has taught me that flexibility is necessary in archival work. My training at one institution is not always transferrable to the next and interning at Drexel has only made my experience and skills much more diverse.
Working at Drexel required me to be vigilant about identifying collections that required access restrictions. For example, some collections contained personnel files or student records which cannot be made available to researchers. As I was working with university records, it was necessary to understand both the legal requirements and institutional policies on how to provide access to the materials. Last but not least, I truly felt fortunate to work with Drexel’s University Archives staff. They provided guidance and constructive feedback, shared professional knowledge and expertise, and supported my decisions on projects. Being an introverted person, I appreciated that the archivists, setup networking opportunities and encouraged me to attend local archivists meetings and events. Broadening my professional network will be a tremendous asset in my future endeavors. Furthermore, working with or alongside the other archives staff and interns was truly amazing, everyone was supportive and friendly; I felt like I was part of an amazing team. I am so grateful to have had this opportunity to work at Drexel Libraries.