I interned at the RIAS from April until June 2023. In the three months I spent as intern I learned a lot about working in an administrative office, the logistics of planning events, maintaining an archival collection, and assisting researchers. As a history student looking to pursue an academic career, the RIAS offered a great opportunity to learn more an academic workplace, giving me the opportunity to meet with academics at various stages of their career (from PhD candidates to Full Professors) and witness the inner workings of an institute issuing grants, hosting conferences and managing an archival collection.
During my internship, my primary job was to perform several administrative tasks for the RIAS. In the three months I was there, 4-5 researchers visited the RIAS to use the archival collection for research. During their research visits, I acted as their primary research assistant, directing them to interesting collections/books based on their interests, helping them with locating/accessing digital resources and offering practical support with the use of the microfilm machines at the RIAS. Having studied for my bachelor at the University College Roosevelt in Middelburg, I could also give recommendations for places to visit around Middelburg.
The researchers visiting the RIAS hold a variety of interests and backgrounds that ensures no visitor will be like the previous one, keeping the job of research assistant vibrant throughout the internship. Chatting with these researchers, I also received some great career advice, and many of them were willing to help in the future with finding a PhD.
The month of June was the busiest in the time I spent at the RIAS. The institute held a conference, a policy workshop, and a PhD seminar all within this month. Although this period was busy, it also gave me the chance to meet many professors and academics from around the Netherlands (and the world). This was a chance to network and build connections with professors, which will help if you plan to pursue an academic career.
Being at the RIAS was a decisive factor in consolidating my desire to pursue a PhD in the Netherlands. Everyone at the RIAS kept a positive and encouraging attitude throughout the internship and was interested in my future career interests, offering suggestions and time to help. Several members of the RIAS academic staff also reviewed my draft MA thesis, which was very useful and appreciated. The help and support I received during the internship may have been its most valuable component.
Whereas internships often carry a stigma of being unimpactful, boring and isolating, the RIAS library internship was the complete opposite for me. The intern holds an important and relevant role within the RIAS office, managing social media and making decisions that affect the day-to-day running of the institute. The internship is full of small challenges and different tasks that keep it from becoming repetitive, especially in a busier period like the one during which I held my internship. Last but not least, as an intern you are offered continuous support for your work in and outside the internship, fostering connections which made the three months I spent at the RIAS more than worthwhile.