A Day as an Intern at SAM

We’re saying goodbye to the last of our summer interns. Here’s a little about Alex Wade’s experience at SAM in his own words.
-Madeline Moy, Digital Media Manager

By Alex Wade

My alarm goes off at 7:30 am. Of course I hit snooze for those oh so crucial extra five minutes.  Then it’s off to the shower.  I get dressed and walk to the bus stop.  It’s 8:13 am and the 345 arrives a few minutes late like always.  I take my seat and ride to the Northgate Transit Center where I hop on the 41.  I get off at my stop and walk through the tunnel.  As I continue through the tunnel, I can see the light  (figures huh?).  I come out of the tunnel at 2nd and University right in front of SAM. It’s an impressive building and I always feel important as I swipe my card key to get into the employee entrance.  The security guard says, ”Hi Alex” as I sign in and type my pin code into the computer. Then it’s off to the 5th floor, a floor you would never expect existed unless you worked at the museum. A floor where everything that keeps the museum going is thought of, implemented and carried out.

I walk in and I am greeted by everyone. “Hey Alex.” “Good Morning Alex.” “Howdy do Alex?” Everyone remembers my name and I struggle to remember the names of what seems like a hundred different people that I’ve met in the short month that I have been here. I feel special almost like I’m a celebrity intern.  I go to my desk and check my schedule.   From 9 am – noon, I am working with a teaching artist helping a 4th grade class make accordion books. The Artistic Elements tour helps students to identify the different elements that make up a work of art.  Students build visual vocabulary and learn about the elements of line, shape, color, value, form and texture while exploring art from around the globe.  In the art workshop portion of their visit they create an accordion book in which one is supposed to creatively display one of the many elements of art on each page. Some students make their books into stories, others collages, and others things that I haven’t quite figured out yet.

As we begin the project I can feel the room swelling with creativity, laughter and fun.  The students are hilarious and the only thing that seems to matter to them is expressing themselves through their works and making the next great masterpiece. There is a genuine sense of freedom and creativity in the room. Smiling faces permeate through the room from the excitement of their work and the anticipation of lunch. I’m ready for lunch too.  What to eat? Once the teaching secession is over and the children are situated enjoying lunch it’s my turn to eat.  I step outside the building and I am in the center of the food Mecca.  During the school year I attend Morehouse College in Atlanta Georgia, and I am originally from Saint Louis Missouri, so downtown Seattle is both new and exciting to me.  I am overwhelmed by all of the food options and the beauty of my surroundings. Two blocks away from me is Pike Market not to mention all the other food places that are just a hop skip and dash away in the middle of downtown. After lunch I come back to my desk and log into Facebook.  I am working on the SAM Educators page.

The SAM Educators page is a wonderful page full of updates and resources for educators and non-educators alike.  On the SAM Educators page you can find the student thank you quote of the week, post about what it’s like to live a day in the life of a SAM docent, information about our Teacher Resource Center (a place which provides curriculum guides, CDs, videos, books, and access to ARTstor and other art databases), recent research on Arts Education, post by teachers, giveaways and much more.  My job as an intern working on the SAM Educators page is to explore the demographics of our pages users, how our frequenters use the page, and to give suggestion on what I think we could do to make this excellent page even better. The SAM Educators page has about 540 active monthly users and receives almost 10,300 post views a month.  In a couple of days I get to give a presentation on my findings and give my suggestion.  I really love the SAM Educators page.  It is a resource that everyone should use.  It’s easy to check and because I’m always on it I’m always in the know.  My favorite part about working on the SAM Educators page is reading posts from people who are truly excited about upcoming events and post that we shared on the page. Before I realize it the clock strikes three signaling the end of my work day.

As an intern at SAM I have learned and gained experiences that I never imagined I would.  Before my internship I was under the impression that my responsibility would be to complete the task that others didn’t want to do.  I was mistaken.  As an intern I have been given numerous fun learning opportunities.  I have taken countless tours of the galleries and learned something new about the art or the artists each time.  I was given full creative reign in my projects and encouraged to give any suggestions that I have to make things better.  Everyone has greeted me with a smile and treated me as if I have been a member of the team forever.  I have learned how much work goes on behind the scenes at the museum and how big of an impact the museum has on the community.  I have gone on specialized tours of the galleries for the vision impaired, seen how the museum provides supplemental art classes for students who don’t have art classes in their schools, and partied the night away in the museum with people from all over Seattle (Remix).  The museum impacts so many people and I always leave feeling good about myself and people in general.

When people ask me about my time at the museum I pause, take a deep breath, and begin to talk their ears off.  I tell them that I have learned how companies like the museum function, that you can work in an environment full of
genuinely good, caring, and loving people, and that you can enjoy going to work.  I have loved my time as an intern at the Seattle Art museum and the journey is just beginning.