To wrap up this series of internship experiences interview, we have Sandy Wang, who’s in her fourth year of studies now. She did her internship in the National Archives of Singapore (NAS). I’m sure many of you, History majors, would be familiar with hearing profs telling us to go to the archives to find our primary sources for research. Listen to Sandy as she shares with us her experience working there for eleven weeks.
1. Why did you decide to apply for an internship in NAS?
I had originally applied for an internship with the National Library Board, with the intention of being introduced to the jobscope of a librarian. Instead, I was offered an interview opportunity with NAS. (NAS had recently become a part of NLB—it used to be a part of NHB) I took up the offer and the rest was history… (Pun intended)
2. Tell us what you did during your internship.
I have the good fortune to work with other fellow interns during my stint at NAS. Our staple task was to review transcript submissions on the Citizen Archivist Project website. Essentially, we are trying to make hand-written documents more accessible by getting the public’s help to transcribe them. We managed to put together a guidebook to help the public start off transcription. Other tasks include quality check of microfilms, stock-checking and even front desk duty. Occasionally, we will set off to “field trips” such as promoting the Citizen Archivist Project at the National Library to teachers,
Of course, the internship program also includes introducing us to the different sections of the archives and the national library. For example, we interacted with the staff from Oral History Centre, Audiovisual department, records management department etc. We even got a chance to work in the conservation lab; getting our hands clean (no, not dirty, we need to keep the old documents bacteria and bug free) to make boxes of archival standard for conserving old documents! Yes, we also managed to repair a book!
3. We have always been talking about going to the archives in our study of history, so how did you feel now that you have interned there? What was your impression of an archive? Has this internship experience change or reinforce your impression of archive?
The archive is basically a gold mine of resources that are waiting for us to dig out and make use of. If I can say it, visiting the archives for research is almost like a rite of passage, so if you have time, pay the archives a visit! It will be an interesting experience, I hope!
For some of us who are a little cynical, the default policy of the archives (files are closed unless open) might be seen as a hindrance to research. However, do bear in mind the historical context in which the archives was set up, and also, think about some practical, mundane problems (lack of manpower to open up files, facilitate research, archive documents, collect documents etc all at the same time) that might impede the process of you getting the file you want . So do keep an open mind! Remember, the archive staff is here to help facilitate research, so we hope you can be understanding!
4. So…will we see you working in the archive in future? Haha
I am not sure if I am suited for the civil service. But who knows? I could be the next Mr Tan Soo Chye and start a new and improved index for the SSR! The Sandy Index—that will be cool. But first, let’s survive year 4!
*Mr Tan Soo Chye is the first archivist in Singapore. He contributed greatly to the archives and one of his contributions include creating an index for all the Straits Settlements record 1800 – 1867.
The NAS is located at 1 Canning Rise Singapore 179868 (off Hill Street).
Photo credit of featured image of NAS building: http://mothership.sg/2015/05/10-old-school-buildings-in-spore-that-were-actually-schools-in-their-previous-lives/
If you wish to know more about her internship experience, feel free to email us at firstname.lastname@example.org