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Empire State of Mind: My Summer Internship Experience at World Monuments Fund

WMF has hosted an intern from the Williamsburg High School for Architecture and Design (WHSAD) for the past four years. Ofelia Eumana, an incoming senior at the school, joined us for six weeks this summer. Below, Ofelia shares her experience of working at our office.

I applied to the internship at World Monuments Fund hoping it would be an interesting job from which I could obtain knowledge and experience. My first day of work was July 2, 2012. I was eager, excited, and most of all nervous. I couldn’t ignore the fact that this job was located in the Empire State Building. I was ecstatic—not everyone can say that their first job took place at such a prestigious, notable building. I was impressed the minute I walked through the door: the place was decorous and looked better than I’d imagined. Shortly afterwards, my supervisor, Margot, greeted me and gave me a brief tour. She also introduced me to a few of the staff members, all whom were very friendly and welcoming.

One of my first projects required me to research sites World Monuments Fund had worked on. I read about places I wasn’t even aware existed, places that were once in danger of being lost, but preserved thanks to World Monuments Fund. Each of these sites were special and significant, rich in culture and history. I then understood World Monuments Fund’s dedication and motives for preserving such valuable architectural treasures. There was much more than one could imagine beyond the façades of those sites and monuments. Behind each of them lived a story, an entire thread of history, and most importantly, the reason for its being.

The second week of my internship, I was notified about a staff meeting. I wasn’t expecting to join, but I was invited and considered part of the staff, all for which I was grateful. The conference room was spacious and neat with a lovely view of Manhattan and its buildings. The meeting was very informative. I learned about a project at Taos Pueblo in New Mexico and its meaning to our heritage. We were also informed about World Monuments Fund’s efforts to preserve this site. During the following weeks, I worked on data cleanup in a fundraising database, created a catalog of press clippings, and scanned important documents. During tasks, I not only worked but at the same time learned about preservation and historic architecture.

Before my internship, I thought I would be out of place working with professionals. Turned out I was wrong, and to my surprise, I appreciated being around mature individuals. As my time at World Monuments Fund came to an end, I realized that that sort of environment is what someone my age needed in order to build character and gain a sense of responsibility. I feel accomplished and am extremely grateful for the opportunity. Overall, I must say I’ve enjoyed my time working for such a devoted organization and I wouldn’t change the experience for anything.