2020 AAA Summer Interns Blog - Learn and Teach
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2020 AAA Summer Interns Blog

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We're thrilled to welcome this year's AAA Summer Interns, Max Cameron, Katie Kemp, and Meghan Ussing. Even though this year’s program is virtual, our interns are keeping busy!  Get to know this summer’s interns and follow their progress with bi-weekly updates from the field.

The AAA Internship Program is funded entirely by member donations. Consider contributing to the AAA Intern Fund to help secure the future of this vital program. 


Max Cameron

 A picture of Max Cameron sitting at his computer with his back to the camera

Max gets down to AAA business while working from home.



With my combined internship with the AAA and NHHC coming to an end, I took some time to reflect upon what I learned and how this internship will help me in the future. I think the two biggest takeaways I have from this internship revolve around research and writing. Both sites had me conducting research and writing about it. I think that this has helped me improve my ability to write professionally and my ability to create research questions and answer them. Being able to conduct research and write about it is incredibly important to many jobs outside of anthropology and I think that these skills will make me more marketable as a person. 

After my internship, I’ll go back to school for my senior year, where I’ll conduct my capstone research and use the skills I gained from this internship to succeed in my final year. I will most likely apply to graduate school this year as well, and the skills I’ve learned will help me get accepted and succeed there. Having interned with the AAA, I’ve also gained insight into the jobs open to anthropology majors inside and outside of academia. This has helped expand my horizons a bit and I think that will help if I decide to get a job straight out of college.

The AAA and NHHC have also helped me by giving me connections inside both organizations and valuable advice for the next steps after undergrad. They have really cared about me and my professional success. Finally, I just want to thank both the AAA and NHHC for the amazing opportunity they’ve given me and the donors to the AAA who helped make it possible.                  

 A picture of Max standing outside while wearing AAA promotional items

Max takes a drink from his newly gifted AAA water bottle. 


Everyone has heard the jokes about interns being sent on coffee runs and that the work they do is the menial, inconsequential stuff that full-time employees don’t want to. While those jokes are often funny, I believe that the work I’m doing this summer at the AAA and Naval History and Heritage Command (NHHC) will have a significant impact on others. For starters, I’m researching how well the learning outcomes put forth by anthropology departments and the prerequisite skills companies want for new hires overlap. This project with the AAA directly impacts anthropology students and their chances of landing jobs outside of academia when they graduate. This is part of the AAA’s wider goal of keeping anthropology students informed of their career options and ensuring the success of new anthropologists. 

My research at the NHHC is equally consequential. I’m researching buckles from a Revolutionary War ship, Royal Savage, and attempting to identify and document them. Researching and identifying buckles is often overlooked in archaeology and can provide useful information about who was present on the ship and what rank they were. This work is part of a larger project by the NHHC to contextualize the wreck of Royal Savage and to identify the people on board. Thus, my work will help add to the knowledge pool of humanity in several ways. 

When I began my research with the AAA and NHHC, I was a little nervous at first because I wasn’t sure that I’d be able to do the research. Despite that early nervousness, I think my time as an undergrad has prepared me well. Part of my studies as an anthropology major cover how to conduct research, ask questions and write clearly and concisely. I think these skills have proven invaluable this summer as I proceed with my research at both internship sites. Conversely, the work I’m doing this year in my internship will help me when I go to grad school. The skills I develop conducting research with the NHHC and AAA will give me more experience in creating a research question and following through with that work. The work I’m doing with the NHHC is the same work and research that I would be doing for other archaeological projects in grad school with different materials.  This internship directly correlates to skills I can transfer to other experiences in my life. 

A picture of Max Cameron standing outside holding a model plan

 Max's hobbies include flying R/C planes and collegiate track.  


I’m a rising senior at SUNY Oswego interning with the American Anthropological Association this summer. I’m majoring in anthropology with a focus in archaeology and interests in battlefield and underwater archaeology. So far, I’ve thoroughly enjoyed my experiences as an intern with the AAA and the Naval History and Heritage Command. Even though the internship is virtual this year, and is only just beginning, I feel like I’ve already learned new skills and met a lot of new people. As I write this post, I am eagerly looking forward to the rest of my time as an intern and I cannot wait to see what the rest of my time brings. 

During my time with the AAA, I’ve worked on classifying learning outcomes from several colleges and universities around the United States based on their responses to a request from the AAA in 2016 for their anthropology department’s learning outcomes. I’ve become more fluent with Excel as I sift through the data provided by the different colleges and try to develop a conclusive set of overarching learning outcomes from these different colleges. Later in my internship, I will compare these learning outcomes to the skills companies are looking for in the field to help spot deficiencies in the education of future anthropologists. I hope to learn more about Excel throughout my internship to become even more comfortable using it. I also hope to become better acquainted with the skills companies are looking for so that I can improve any deficiencies I may have as well. 

My internship with the NHHC has also been fascinating and I’ve enjoyed the challenge of it. I’ve been tasked with researching and documenting several 18th Century uniform buckles from a Continental Navy shipwreck in Lake Champlain, New York. At times it’s been a challenge to identify some of the buckles and I’ve had to be inventive when looking for information on a topic that has often been overlooked in archaeology. I’ve also learned a new citation method (SHA) and how to document and write a report to the NHHC’s standards. I hope to continue to learn about the lab work and documentation side of archaeology in order to give me applicable experience in all sides of archaeology as a solid learning base to expand on when I attend graduate school. 
The work I'm doing this summer will help round out the skills learned in my education career. I hope that the work I’m doing at the AAA this summer can contribute to the bettering of others by providing guidelines for students of anthropology to follow in order to improve themselves in preparation for joining the workforce. Finally, I hope that my work at the NHHC helps contribute, in some small way, to the archaeologic record and that I learn from these experiences in the future.


Katie Kemp 

 A picture of Katie Kemp smiling at the camera while she sits at her laptop

Like most of us these days, Katie finds herself working at her dining room table. 


Looking back on my six weeks as an intern for the AAA, it's easy to see how much I’ve been able to learn. The AAA prioritized real-world learning by holding interns to the same expectations as regular employees, including relying on our work for real projects and initiatives. I was able to become familiar with the basic responsibilities of a professional career like being on time, finishing tasks in a timely fashion, and creating professional work that doesn’t require management or revision. This is a unique opportunity not found in other entry-level internships. On top of these regular work responsibilities, I appreciated that my duties as an intern required me to be a self-starter, and finish tasks in my own way with self-autonomy. Because of this additional accountability, I felt the responsibility to finish my tasks efficiently and effectively. In this way, I really felt like you get as much out of this internship as you put into it. If you show up, work hard, and meet deadlines, you will get more responsibilities and can learn more skills as a result.

As an intern at the AAA, I was able to learn what it’s like to work in a friendly, fast-paced, and professional setting. I felt challenged by my projects and my responsibilities, but always felt supported by staff and my mentor. I felt comfortable enough to make suggestions and learned how to ask leading questions. I also found that my projects as an intern for the NHHC required that I prioritize my responsibilities, be good at time management, and motivate myself to get work done on time. I feel incredibly accomplished looking back at the projects that I was able to complete during this internship including a research paper that will be utilized by the NHHC staff for future research, and many different grant opportunities that will help the AAA continue with future initiatives. I feel confident that I’ll be able to carry over these professional skills into future careers, but I also believe that this new responsibility and professional experience will serve me well as I pursue a graduate degree in anthropology in the fall. Because of the AAA’s dedication to this professional growth that encouraged us to send our resumes and CVs in for revisions, I now have a complete and professional-looking resume, feel more confident for job interviews, and for pursuing my master’s. Being able to be responsible for my own time and exceed the expectations of my superiors will allow me to become a better student and will aid me as I begin writing my thesis, and the research skills I created as an intern with the NHHC will aid with future research I’ll be required to do as a grad student.

A picture of Katie Kemp holding AAA promotional items

Katie is all smiles draped in the latest AAA swag.  


I’m loving this internship so far. I feel the satisfaction that I’m doing meaningful and valuable work every day because I know that I’m helping progress research within the field of underwater archaeology, and helping the AAA continue its commitment to the field of anthropology. The work that I do as an intern, both at the AAA, as well as at the Naval History and Heritage Command (NHHC) is critical work that will benefit society in impactful ways. For instance, my project at the NHHC will aid in research that will expand the knowledge of underwater archaeologists on the impact that commercial fishing, recreational diving, and tourism have on underwater archaeological sites. By locating these vessels, the NHHC can update records with the most accurate and current information on wreckage sites and bring closure to families whose family members were lost at sea during World War II. The implications for this project are far-reaching, both locally, and around the world. Analyzing these wrecks, the impacts that shipwrecks can have on ecosystems, and the impacts that underwater environments have on archaeological sites will guide conversations on how the Navy should handle these wreckages.

I’ve learned a lot about underwater archaeology since I started at the AAA. Navigating historical archives and learning about how the Navy operates has been a steep learning curve, but I believe my past experiences as a student of the dual disciplines of anthropology and international affairs has helped me with my roles as an intern. I spent five years in undergrad learning how to use search platforms to my benefit while writing essays, labs, research papers, and presentations. My experience conducting extensive research on topics throughout these disciplines has been incredibly useful to me. With my interests in the preservation of historical sites, I’ve found myself heavily focused on the conservation aspects of my projects researching sunken WWII ships. This interest has given me passion in my work, and conversely, I know this work will aid me in future academic and professional endeavors.

Additionally, my projects with AAA’s fundraising staff have been critical in ensuring that the initiatives the AAA has currently, and hopes to take in the future, have enough funding to accomplish their goals. I’ve been so empowered to learn of the amazing and beneficial initiatives that the AAA takes on every year to enrich our communities including expanding accessibility within anthropological content, environmental sustainability, race and equality, and efforts to bring anthropology and science to children and teens. As an elementary school student, I joined a club that encouraged girls to explore their interests in anthropology and science by spending one day a week after school at the Denver Museum of Nature and Science, called Girls at the Museum Exploring Science (G.A.M.E.S). We would often stay after-hours, or get exclusive tours of archives and storerooms, and would spend our time with other girls of the same interests. I believe that this club helped me choose my career trajectory from a young age and encouraged me to pursue my interests. I feel honored to facilitate foundational research that will allow the AAA to continue these initiatives. These projects focus on the intersections of anthropology with today’s most pertinent topics: climate justice, inequality and migration, childhood education and access, and inclusivity. Anthropology is present in every part of our lives, and I’ve found this to be true as I explain the efforts of the AAA to potential donors. Within the context of every challenge facing humanity, lessons can be learned from anthropologic research and history. As a result, I can be sure that I can peak the interests of practically any foundation, and still link the AAA’s interests to those of the foundation.

I know that this internship will help me greatly with any future professional or academic roles I find myself in later on. This internship has given me experience working in a professional setting and tackling long-term goals. Wherever I end up professionally, understanding what goes into funding will be an important task. I also see my ability to articulate the mission and values of my organization to stakeholders and the public will be critically important as an archaeologist to expand the conversations of archaeological research beyond the field. With my interests in Indigenous archaeology, the importance of including Indigenous populations in research is the main goal, and keeping in mind the intersection of anthropology with other comprehensive issues is vital. I’m sure that my practice with research and using alternative platforms for information will be crucial to me as a graduate student, and as a professional in the field.

 Katie plans to move to Missoula, Montana in the fall to join the University of Montana’s master’s program in Cultural Heritage. 


Hi AAA Community! My name is Katie Kemp, and I just finished my second week as a summer intern for the AAA. Originally from Boulder, CO, I recently finished my bachelor’s degree from CU Boulder in International Affairs and Anthropology. Now I am moving to Missoula, Montana in the fall to attend the University of Montana’s master’s program in Cultural Heritage with an emphasis in Archaeology. I am incredibly excited and honored to be accepted as an intern for the AAA and that I can spend my summer exploring my passions for archaeology and site preservation.

I hope that this internship will give me a well-rounded background for my career goals as a site preservation archaeologist for the National Parks Service. Despite an unprecedented change to the internship format because of COVID-19 that forced us to stay home and do our internship duties remotely, I’ve been having a great time as a summer intern! My work with the AAA combines my passions for conservation and preservation of archaeological sites while giving me an in-depth insight of critical AAA office functions. I’ve been working closely with the development director, Mahsa Javid, in researching grant funding opportunities. So far, I’ve been loving the fast-paced and self-led environment at the AAA, and my days have been busy getting acquainted with my responsibilities and diving into the complex world of fundraising! Working closely with the AAA accessibility specialist, Nell Koneczny, I look forward to expanding my projects to assist with bringing the field of anthropology to everybody by transcribing recorded lectures for screen readers and those with hearing loss.

On top of my intern duties with the AAA office, I’ve also been working half the time at the Naval History and Heritage Command Underwater Archaeology Branch. There I’m working closely with other NHHC staff and interns to locate sunken naval ships from World War II off the coast of Okinawa, Japan. This project has allowed me to develop critical research and analytical skills while feeling the satisfaction and importance of knowing I am doing such crucial and impactful work. Getting to know everybody virtually by eating lunch with the office has been a lot of fun, and I’ve been enjoying learning as much as I can and squeezing every drop I can from my time here! Due to these unexpected circumstances, I’ve been learning creative ways to research information for my project since lots of archives are closed right now, but I feel even more like an investigator wading through online archives like NARA and Ancestry.com to get my information. While the internship is only six weeks, I think that the skills I gain through my time with the AAA and NHHC will continue to be valuable to me as I transition to the next chapter in my educational career and beyond.


Meghan Ussing 

 A picture of Meghan Ussing posing in front of a snow covered mountain

Meghan takes full advantage of some downtime during her internship.  


My time as a summer intern with the AAA and the Smithsonian Center for Folklife and Cultural Heritage has been an incredible experience and I am very fortunate to have had this amazing opportunity. The biggest take away I got from my internship was the practical experience I gained working on applied projects. That experience made me realize how passionate I am about applied anthropology. I’ve always known that my career goals as an anthropologist are tied to my goal to do the most good I can in this world. Applying medical anthropology working on the AAA’s website rapid mobilization platform for emerging infectious diseases helped me to realize the way for my research and career to have the maximum potential for good is through applied medical anthropology. I wrote my undergraduate senior thesis on the topic of migraines, especially focusing on the lack of legitimacy that migraine and other headache disorders receive and the social and economic factors which contribute to that lack. My experience with the AAA has inspired me to take that research to an applied level in graduate school.

My next steps after this summer internship include taking a gap year before beginning graduate school. I would like to gain some applicable work experience before beginning my studies on a graduate level, something the AAA has already helped me to do both in providing practical skills and experience and through the Pathway to Career Project. The Pathway to Career Project helped prepare me for my job search by helping me to build my resume, cover letter, CV, and interview skills. Beyond that, my time at the AAA has given me valuable skills that will help me achieve my future goals, including research skills, communication skills, experience working with an interdisciplinary team, and experience working virtually. I look forward to applying the skills and experience I gained through this internship to my future studies and career.


 A picture of Meghan Ussing standing outside holding AAA promotional items

Meghan is looking cool in the shade while showing
off her new AAA gifts. 


This summer, I’m working on two main projects with the AAA and the Smithsonian Center for Folklife and Cultural Heritage (CFCH). I’m primarily working on the AAA website's rapid mobilization platform for emerging infectious diseases. My work on the platform will contribute to the first network of its kind, connecting organizations, and anthropologists who will be able to respond and mitigate the spread of infectious disease outbreaks more quickly and in a more organized and effective manner than they have in the past. This platform has the potential to impact communities all over the world who are affected by emerging infectious diseases as well as the people who can help but haven’t had the ability to in the past. My contributions to this platform will have a long-lasting impact given the importance of societal factors regarding the spread of infectious disease, and I am grateful to have the opportunity to work on such an impactful project. If this platform had been operational at the beginning of COVID-19, I have every confidence that anthropologists could have slowed the effects of the pandemic here in America. COVID-19, like all diseases, affects people and therefore has a social and cultural dimension that affects its spread. Using the AAA platform, anthropologists with insight into those dimensions would have been connected to institutions that could utilize those expert insights. One way this might occur is through spreading information in a way that more effectively communicates the realities of the disease and the steps people could take, which would have helped mitigate the spread.

The other project I’m working on is the joint traveling exhibit, World on the Move, led by both CFCH and the AAA. The project’s purpose is to educate people on migration and it’ll be traveling the country through public libraries. The exhibit uses cultural, linguistic, and archaeological evidence to show how people have been migrating for thousands of years and in the modern-day. The idea is to get people thinking critically about their own experience with migration, why people migrate, and what that might look like in different parts of the world at different times. The area I’ve been primarily helping with is migration across Beringia. I’ve done some research on creation mythologies across Beringia and found many connections between those found in Indigenous oral traditions in Siberia and Western Alaska. My contributions to this exhibit will reach people all over the country and help educate people on migration, hopefully encouraging the understanding and tolerance of immigrants.

My studies as an anthropologist have helped me immensely in researching both of the projects I’m working on, but my background as an Alaskan anthropologist has especially helped with my research on migration through Beringia. I’ve been able to utilize my background knowledge to create a fuller picture.

The research I’m doing with the CFCH and AAA will help me achieve my dreams of graduate school and becoming an applied anthropologist. I’m already contributing to solving contemporary issues and I will use the experience gained from this internship to inform my future studies.

In her spare time, Meghan enjoys fishing in the
Kenai River for red salmon. 


My name is Meghan Ussing and I’m from Soldotna, Alaska. I am a virtual summer intern at the AAA and the Smithsonian Center for Folklife and Cultural Heritage (CFCH). In May of 2020, I graduated from the University of Alaska, Anchorage with a degree in Anthropology. This summer, I hope to dedicate myself to getting the most out of this internship by putting in the work.

The two projects I am working on are the AAA’s rapid mobilization platform for emerging infectious diseases and the joint traveling exhibit World on the Move, a project led by both CFCH and the AAA. The emerging infectious diseases platform is the first time I’ve been directly involved in an applied anthropology project and I have discovered a passion for applied anthropology in these few short weeks. The purpose of the platform is to create a network of organizations and anthropologists who can quickly respond to emerging infectious disease outbreaks and mitigate their spread. My project for the summer is primarily to assist in the design of the website.

Through my work at the Smithsonian, I’ve learned of exhibit design and content creation. My background knowledge coming from an Alaskan education helped my supervisors at the Smithsonian to fill in some gaps about migration across Beringia. I expect this internship will continue to build on my existing skillset as well as to introduce me to new concepts and opportunities. My work with the AAA has reaffirmed my interest in medical anthropology and expanded my view on applied anthropology careers. Additionally, learning how to work collaboratively and communicate effectively through virtual applications has prepared me for a career in a post-COVID-19 world. I believe the knowledge and skills I will walk away with from this internship will help me to be a better researcher and will help in my future studies.


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