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Internship Spotlight – Wren Thompson

This post is part of our Internship Spotlight series, which consists of short interviews with students who have completed internship positions. The interview reflects on what the student learned from the experience and any advice they’d give to individuals looking for internships. Our next spotlight is with Wren Thompson, a second year UW Museology Student.


What organization did you intern with? Can you tell meWren Thompson (she/her/hers) portrait

what you did in your internship?

I interned this past summer with Foundry10 as a Marine Science Graduate Intern. This internship was a combination of exhibit production and evaluation.

On the exhibit production side of things, I took an exhibit plan developed through a Directed Field Work course in Spring Quarter and put it into motion to be installed in December. This consisted of compiling and finishing all exhibit materials, identifying production needs, sourcing vendors and fabricators, and creating installation instructions.

On the evaluation side of things, I executed a multi-site survey across five community marine centers around the Salish Sea to provide insights into their local communities. Foundry10 provided a previously created survey and the contact information for the leads at each community marine center. From there, I coordinated data collection days with each site according to their sample interests–visitors or non-visitors–and local event schedules. I then spent the next month and a half traveling around to each marine center and collecting over 150 surveys from visitors and non-visitors for each marine center. The surveys were primarily collected in person, though a couple of the marine centers requested Google Forms to be created so they could collect responses from folks on their email and newsletter lists. 

After finishing the data collection stage, I briefly analyzed each site’s data to identify patterns in their audiences and wrote up initial data interpretation summaries for each site to be reviewed by Foundry10 before disseminating them to the sites.

How did you find your internship? Did you have any specific criteria you followed to find an internship?

I found this internship by participating in a Directed Field Work course in Spring Quarter 2022! I got to know Travis Windleharth – my supervisor during the DFW and the following internship – over the course of the DFW, and I took a liking to Foundry10, their mission, and their work. They matched a lot of my interests in science, education, and learning through games. As we wrapped up the quarter, I let Travis know that I would love to keep working with Foundry10. When an internship opportunity opened up to both help produce the exhibit we developed as well as conduct a multi-site evaluation, I jumped at the chance!

What learning goals did you have going into this internship?

I came into this internship wanting to sharpen my project management skills as well as refine my evaluation skills by executing a study across multiple sites.

What did you end up learning from your internship? Did you fulfill your original learning goals? Were there any unexpected takeaways or learning moments?

I definitely fulfilled my original learning goals, as well as a couple unexpected learning moments. Throughout this internship, I learned my limits for data collection schedules. I was constantly walking the line between wanting to make the most out of a limited amount of time in a location and taking care of my own mental exhaustion during hours of public interaction. I’ve learned to take my time more with data collection, either working with a partner or taking plenty of breaks to keep myself in my best state of mind to collect good data.

How do you think your internship experience contributed to your overall graduate experience?

This internship put a lot of the skills I’d gained in our program to work in the real world. In particular, this internship contributed to a huge bump in my ability to project manage across two different types and phases of work. Going forward with my yearlong evaluation specialization project as well as evaluating a project thesis, this internship has set me up for success in my second year of my Masters.

Is there anything you wish you had done differently in your internship?

I would have done a couple things differently. First, I would have taken fewer hours at my part-time job to dedicate more hours to my internship and keeping track of each moving piece. Second, I would have given myself more time in each data collection location to allow for shorter collection hours per day.

Do you have any recommendations for students looking into internships now?

I know it’s a bit cliché, but keep an eye out for connections you can make with your professors, guest lecturers, and supervisors. They’re working with our program because they want to help us grow, and they often will have ideas for where we can go for internships!

Additionally, always consider the amount of work an internship is asking for and the amount of time you have. If you think it’s too much to take on, consider having a conversation with the host site to pare down the project or even extend the timeline of your internship. Internships are negotiations between you and your host site; don’t assume they’re set in stone as first proposed.