Internship Spotlight: Finnley MacKillop

I am from Detroit, and am now going into my fourth year at McGill, and will graduate in June 2021 with a major in Urban Studies and minors in East Asian Studies and International Development. I have a diverse range of interests, notably a passion for languages and other cultures that drives the vast majority of my other interests. Through this passion, I found my internship with the MEM – Centre d’histoire de Montréal (hereafter referred to as the MEM).

I wanted to do this internship because I believe that knowing the history of a city is critical when planning for its future. By doing this internship, I hoped to gain a nuanced understanding of Montréal’s history, so as to better guide my future work as an urban planner, as well as help me to better understand the importance of history in our lives.

The MEM is a major museum in Montréal. It seeks to present the history of the city that focuses on the stories of individual Montrealers from the past to present. The MEM will soon be reopening in a new location, and as part of this, they will be publishing an illustrated history of Montréal. As an intern, my job was to peruse and look for various images that capture the lives of Montrealers. While this may not sound like a lot, there was an extraordinary range of themes to research. This seemingly simple task therefore kept me occupied throughout my internship.

Although it is difficult to choose one particular highlight from my internship, my favourite moments were when I would research a seemingly mundane topic, and end up finding a trove of engaging images. That being said, there were numerous challenges. I missed the camaraderie that comes with working together in an office, and I found staring at a screen for 20 hours a week to be exhausting. I also found it challenging to spend a day working in French, only to log off for the day and have to switch back to English. That being said, I was able to largely overcome most of these challenges. I made a point of scheduling one-on-one calls with my coworkers just to chat, and tried to spread out my hours over the week so as to reduce the hours spent in front of my computer in one day. The language issue was still challenging, but by the end of my internship, it did get easier to switch back and forth.

Although I will not be receiving academic credit for this internship, it has nevertheless positively impacted my university experience. Fortunately, I have had enriching jobs each summer since starting university, all somehow related to my studies. However, this internship has, without a doubt, surpassed my prior ones. Even with the COVID-related restrictions in place, my supervisors succeeded in designing an internship experience that was not only enriching, but also purposeful. Above all, this internship has been defined by the sense that I am doing something significant, rather than busy work. This has given greater clarity to what I would like to seek after graduating. I also was fortunate enough to receive funding from the Arts Internship Office. While I obviously did not travel to do this internship, I simply would not have been able to accept an unpaid internship. Thus, it is thanks to the funding of the AIO that I was able to take on this internship, and thereby have such a uniquely enriching experience.

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