My name is Julia and I am a third year postgraduate student in the Department of History. My area of research is focused into Victorian Britain and includes folklore, so when I learned of the SME Internship Scheme, I contacted the Folklore Society (est. 1878) to ask whether there might be any tasks that could be carried out that met the criteria of the scheme.
The President, Owen Davies, put me in touch with the Society’s Librarian, Dr Caroline Oates, and we quickly agreed upon a project that was valuable to the Society.
My internship experience
I began on 2 May, with a zoom meeting with Caroline, to discuss the scope of the project and agree on how my time would be spent and recorded. We established a simple timesheet, which was easy to manage and keep track of the work being completed.
The primary task was to transcribe into Word documents meeting minutes from 1901, 1903, and 1904, which were held in handwritten minutes books. The text had been digitised, but having been written in cursive, the use of OCR software was not possible.
The biggest challenge was to identify some of the names and terms that are unfamiliar to modern readers, but without counting the number of words, I believe that more than 90% of the text was accurately transcribed.
I was also invited to provide support for the Society’s “Open Voices” conference, which took place virtually in May. This included introductions, housekeeping announcements, video and sound recording, and observing the presentations to ensure that the technology operated efficiently.
I was able to schedule my transcribing duties around other commitments, which was important because I was finalising my doctoral dissertation for submission to the university during the same months as the internship. The process worked well owing to the flexibility of the Society, especially Caroline, and my own commitment to completing the task within the allotted timeframe.
The key benefits to me from the internship were:
1) I established a professional relationship with an important society that operates broadly within the same academic field as my studies
2) I had access to primary sources that provide a wealth of information about the role of the society and its members in the early twentieth century.
Find an internship
Finally, my recommendations to anyone seeking to undertake an internship are firstly, to make sure that it is relevant. It doesn’t have to be in the exact same field, but it should provide experience and information that will support your academic studies.
Secondly, it should provide exposure to something that you would not otherwise be able to access. I have many years of experience in not-for-profit organisations and committees but being able to review the minute books from the beginning of the twentieth century was a key point for me.
The internship was extremely rewarding, and I would encourage anyone to do an internship if they can.
Want to be an SME intern?
Funding is available now through the SME Internship Scheme for internships this academic year. Check out our website for more information, and how to participate.
Read more blogs in our “My SME Internship” series for inspiration.