As a pre-program Conservation student one is required to have around 400 hours of hands-on experience under the supervision of a professional conservator. The beginning of this year I spent a good month or so just applying to internships around the country where I thought there would be a mutual benefit. I want to be honest and say that the Buffalo Bill Center of the West’s Conservation Summer Internship was definitely my first choice. I poured my heart out into the application, envisioned myself frolicking through the hills of Cody in the summer, even set “Cody, WY” as one of my ‘weather’ options on my iPhone to check daily. All of these efforts were worth it and have been paying off for 5 weeks now. Whether you’re a pre-program looking to extend your portfolio or a grad student wanting to ramp up your skills, I’m going to tell you why the Buffalo Bill Center of the West is your pearl and Cody your oyster.
It’s true when they say that the people you work with affect your job performance. The crew here at the Center has been nothing but lovely since my very first day, especially the Conservation Internship mentor Beverly Perkins. I was a bit intimidated to get started since this is my first hands-on conservation experience, yet Beverly’s motivational character helped me be more confident and sure of myself in doing treatments. One of the Center’s long term projects for interns is a beautiful and intricate ca. 1600s European tapestry that has been in the lab for many summers, with already over 300 hours of work on it. It took a few times of circling around the tapestry and Bev finally saying, “Just go for it” to settle on a flower spot and begin color matching thread. As soon as I found the right color and started working, 5 hours swept by with me in a state of textile Zen. No matter if you’re a first timer in a conservation internship I say from experience do not feel intimidated and apply. This is a fabulous, challenging and approachable internship where I’m learning the basic difference between “adhesive” and “glue” to deciding when to color match a thread or watercolor it to match.
More experienced colleagues looking for a new place with new sights, Cody will coquette its way to your heart. It is a quaint little town in very close distance to grand places and adventures. My peer conservation interns and I have been trying to see something new every weekend, so far camping in both Yellowstone Park and the Grand Tetons. In those trips we encountered wild buffalo, elk, deer, pronghorn antelopes, and at a far distance some black bears. We’ve also driven through the scenery of Beartooth Pass and visited the Million Dollar Bar at Jackson Hole. Most evenings after work an intern peer from the Education department and I drive to the plains to do some reading or work on personal projects. Even from home looking out into the 9 p.m. sunsets is a different dessert each night.
Working in the Center’s conservation lab the weekdays and exploring the outskirts of town on the weekends is making for this to be a soul enriching, resume expanding summer experience I am so grateful I set my iPhone weather screen and bet my lucky stars on.