Onsite Internship Story: Eszter Jakab (CHSP '20)
Name of intern: Eszter Jakab
CEU department and program: Department of Medieval Studies, MA in Cultural Heritage Studies
Year of graduation: 2020
Name of internship host organization: Southeast Asian Ministers of Education Organization, Regional Centre for Archaeology and Fine Arts (SEAMEO SPAFA) Bangkok, Thailand
What did you do during your internship?
My main responsibility was to assist in the various phases of the ‘Animism in the Arts of Southeast Asia’ international seminar. I was responsible for practical matters such as name badges, certificates and ensuring the seminar ran smoothly. I also wrote biographies and drafted the welcome notes for the seminar booklet. In addition, I was asked to do research on a topic either related to the seminar or to my supervisor’s needs. I was also invited to comment on and proofread different materials that included project proposals for collaboration with UNESCO or reports for the next General Board Meeting. Furthermore, I was assigned to translate a text into Hungarian for the Rock Art Society, for which I will be credited in the released version.
How did the internship help you implement your knowledge gained at CEU and/or your previous experience?
This was the first time I had an opportunity to encounter the Buddhist world in real life and not only through secondary literature. This in itself allowed me to combine my theoretical knowledge with on-site observations and gain a deeper understanding of the topic. Being involved in both research and project implementation, I was able to use my existing knowledge and advance it with my experience at SEAMEO SPAFA. When I was doing research on a particular topic, I had to organize my findings into a reader-friendly form, so my courses on research methods and presentations in different genres helped me greatly.
How will this internship help you in your career?
The internship itself, the site visits I did, and the conversations I had with locals and scholars inspired me greatly and gave me new perspectives that will be useful both in my MA thesis and my future PhD applications. Having the chance to work at the most renowned organization for archaeology, fine arts, and heritage in Southeast Asia enabled me to network with leading professionals in the field. As SEMAEO SPAFA has a very good reputation and is collaborating with the most prominent heritage organizations in the world (e.g. UNESCO or ICOMOS), I am sure that my work experience here will be an advantage when applying for future jobs or study programs.
How did you find this internship?
My main field of research is cultural heritage in South Asia, and I wanted to extend my scope towards the region, so I approached all international or intergovernmental heritage institutions in the area. I came across SEAMEO SPAFA both on the internet and in a book about cultural heritage management in Southeast Asia, so after I looked into the internships they offered and noting that they were organized with care and aimed to advance the interns’ knowledge and skills, I decided to submit my application.
Do you have advice for current students regarding internships?
When it comes to the application process, it may sound like a cliché, but just follow your dreams and never think that they are too big. Make sure that you submit the best possible application, spend time improving it until you are at least close to satisfied. Ask for the advice of the Career Services Office, and from the Center for Academic Writing. They were a huge help not just in defining my goals and helping me choose the most suitable options, but in putting together a successful application. It might look like a lot of effort at that moment, but in return, you get a once in a lifetime experience both on a personal and professional level. And when you are already there, just make sure that you are always proactive and ask questions. Get out of your comfort zone and network! And last but not least, if you go to a new place, explore as much as you can, because the internship experience is not only about working.