Administrative Operations Intern Joshua Edwards shares what he learned as part of Harvard Library's EDIBA Internship program.
It started in the fall of 2022 when I discovered the Equity, Diversity, Inclusion, Belonging, and Antiracism (EDIBA) internship program with Harvard Library. I couldn’t fathom this opportunity becoming a reality within my professional journey, as I had only recently obtained a B.A. in Journalism and Media Studies from Jackson State University. However, despite that concern, I stepped out of my comfort zone, applied, and interviewed.
Fast forward to June 5, 2023, which marked my first day as a summer 2023 EDIBA intern at Harvard Library. I remember sitting in a room with 11 other interns from institutions across the U.S. We were all excited: simultaneously grateful for the moment and eager to witness what was next. We met our supervisors, who gifted us with library swag, covered introductory information, and fueled the fire for what was to become an eventful summer.
This professional experience proved to be one of the best yet. Not solely because I was on the historic grounds of Harvard University, but because of the support I received. My manager, Adriana Gallegos, Associate Director of Administrative Operations, ensured I had a valuable and productive experience. In our initial meeting she stated, “We want to give you tangible projects, so that when you leave here you have proof of what you did.” As an intern, I appreciated that she trusted and believed in my skills and independence. Whether it was making content recommendations to the staff portal website or suggesting better lines of communication in Widener Library, she listened to and valued my ideas.
The support I received went beyond my manager to encompass the entire Administrative Operations team. Each of these highly accomplished professionals devoted time out of their busy schedules to prioritize my professional growth. They reviewed my cover letter, critiqued my resume, connected me with other professionals, and gave me advice toward my future endeavors. I’ve had several internship experiences, but it was within this role that I truly felt that my skills were simultaneously utilized and enhanced.
As a native of Tulsa, OK, living in Cambridge, MA, was quite a culture shock, but the EDIBA program made it their mission to create a sense of home for our cohort. This started with connecting all 12 of us; they created a community. Throughout the summer, we toured various spaces at Harvard, attended mixers, grabbed lunch, networked with other library scholars, and more. Encountering new moments as a collective united us and allowed us to build genuine bonds that will transcend our summer experience.
Take the risk – when reflecting upon these fond moments, I can easily identify my personal and professional growth. From building new relationships to tackling new work projects, I have eliminated many of my comfort zones and have gained an interest in library services. Undoubtedly, I have been impacted by Harvard’s mission through the EDIBA program, which is to encourage inclusive excellence by fostering a campus culture where everyone can thrive.