Posts Tagged ‘job’

museum internship + biscotti

Ten days ago, I had a phone interview for a summer internship with a modern art museum in DC. Four hours later, they called back and offered me the job. (Ahem. “Job.”) So for ten weeks this summer, I’ll be a regular 9-to-5’er — with time outs for intern field trips and panels — in the education department, researching the collection for docent training, organizing artist lectures and public events, helping out with children’s art programs, and so on.

The process of applying to summer internships began for me in late January and it’s been no picnic. Why can’t art internships get it together and standardize — or at least streamline — the application process? The Smithsonian wants everything submitted through their institutional database. A handful of places want snail mail packages, complete with sealed letters of recommendation and official transcripts. Some boutique-ish museums don’t even tell you, apparently steadfast in their belief that the head of Human Resources has nothing better to do with her time than field questions about whether unofficial transcripts are okay, or if writing samples are mandatory. I mean: seriously!

Thankfully, everything magically coalesced at the end and I landed one of my first-choice places. And last week I found myself in the happy position of having to thank recommendation-letter-writers for being such model recommendation-letter-writers. Flexible, generous, and, perhaps best of all, eminently punctual.

So I did what comes naturally. I made biscotti. And here’s why: one, they travel well. Two, they are a very Grown Up treat, being Foreign and therefore Classy. And three, well, I wanted to audition this recipe. (I didn’t say they were all selfless reasons.)

The audition verdict? They are quite Grown Up, by which I mean Not Very Sweet. A bit of a surprise, since there may only be a cup and a third of sugar, but they’re all CHOCOLATE and TWICE BAKED COOKIE and then the CHOCOLATE. Should be sweet, right? I wouldn’t serve them for dessert, but their tight crunch makes them the perfect vehicle for mid-afternoon-coffee-dunking.

Which is exactly how I imagined my former intern supervisor and seminar leader eating them, so . . .  TA! (Also: notice no butter. Makes for a waist-line friendly break, indeed.) I solicited some lovely help from a craftily-inclined friend and fellow blogger for packaging suggestions, and boom — these bundles are off to New York. And I can’t wait to follow them east in several weeks.

dirty snow and the art of/in next year

Well the blizzarding had to stop eventually, and eventually it did. We’ve been flurry-free for almost a whole week, and good thing too, for an important week it’s been: a final exam, my last French class with les petits, and early Santa visits to name a few. Of course, we’ve also entered that season of muddy snow mountains, which in my experience often outlasts proper wintertime. Our street looks like an unpaved road (having been skipped over in the initial plowing frenzy and now, I suppose, given up as a lost cause), between the initial flake cover, freeze, car tracks, melt, freeze, etc.

The main roads are totally, paved, though, and I made my paved-highway, ice-free way up to Cedar Rapids yesterday morning to see about a museum internship. And how, oh how shall I fill my days next semester? Perfecting a recipe for ricotta chocolate mousse that tastes more like . . . chocolate mousse? (Sadly, the devil in tonight’s dinner. I swear, I didn’t know it was diet food!) Actually finishing the stack of books on my bedside table that, despite SIX MONTHS of purely voluntary activities I have STILL not managed to polish off? Convincing Billy that fostering a kitten from the local animal shelter is one hundred per cent essential to our happiness? (IS. IT. EVER!)

Hopefully, all of the above. And for those keeping track at home, this too:

— Art museum internship, at last! I’m to settle into the education department, and next year may find me designing materials for blind and visually impaired visitors.

— Conquering the GRE. I took a practice test in May, failed half the math, and was so embarrassed that I promptly shut the books away for, er, the rest of the year. So in lieu of an academic class at the university, I will be my own task master. Just me, Kaplan, and the Princeton Review. Let us never again forget how to find the area of a triangle.

— Tut -or / -ee, in Italian, French, and German — the latter, in particular, until my translations of Winckelmann are so graceful that Columbia’s graduate program will be falling over itself to admit me.

— Testing whether all CraigsList job offers are, indeed, scams. If not: liaising between French customers and American customer service reps for an education software company . . . !? I have no idea if this is real, either.

And you, friends-who-are-readers: you’re part of the project, too. I’m going to get someone to come visit.

tales from the edge: how i teach french to five year olds

The first thing I say when I tell people I created (a month ago) and teach (now) an after-school French program for preschoolers through second graders at a local private school is, “And it’s a lot harder than it sounds!” (Or, to those who’ve been there, done that: “And it’s a lot harder than I thought it would be!”)

I’ve boiled it down to two reasons:

One, kids want to learn everything. They don’t care about your lesson plan or activity for the day. The first grader I babysat all last year took an after-school Chinese class once a week (First grader! Chinese!) because he wanted to speak to his Chinese friend in Chinese. And he was positively appalled when that half hour per week didn’t make him fluent. “We’re just not learning Chinese,” he would whine on the walk to the 6 train. “It’s all songs.” Well, kiddo, probably because of this next reason.

Two, kids have the great and glorious attention span of about thirty seconds. So not only do they not give a whit about your lesson plan, but they can’t believe it’s supposed to last thirty minutes. What in the world could take thirty minutes? Certainly recess, but certainly not French. Also, the fact that “touche” in French sounds an awful lot like “tush” is grounds for butt-bopping all the chairs, tables, and walls you’re ostensibly meant to just touch. (This has happened every class. Every single one.)

And I’m sticking by my conclusion that after school classes are even harder than vanilla school-day classes for three more reasons: One, school is out. Duh. Didn’t you hear the final bell? Two, they’ve just come from after school care, ie glorified recess in a big room with crayons and tables and glue. Three, whereas school, real school, has a defined and respected discipline system (gold stars, revoked recess, trips to the principal’s office, anyone?) that’s reinforced in class every day — after school class doesn’t. It’s nearly impossible to impose an appropriate discipline structure without venturing into the extreme. What four year old will even remember he was too loud on Monday, let alone realize that that’s why he doesn’t get a croissant on Wednesday?

Thankfully enough, and just as we crest the halfway mark, I’ve made a few sparkling discoveries. I’m carrying them around like little gold nuggets and spilling out my bag of gems here.

  1. Pair older kids with younger ones. Newsflash: despite a voracious appetite for information and about one tenth of the concentration powers needed to absorb it all, kids remain miniature adults, and they, too, love to feel important. And powerful. So matching a second grader with a kindergartener will give him the chance to teach — and thereby learn it twice. As a flash bonus, the kindergartener is working with the big kid. Cool by association.
  2. Make the naughty ones your helpers. Well that sounds familiar. Oh yes: Keep your friends close and your enemies closer. When I brought the tickle-and-fart instigator into my lap (I know. HUGE risk.) for story time and asked him if he would mind terribly turning the pages like a big boy — well, wow. Golden child. Of course, once “Spot à la ferme” was over, he was back to his namesake ways but for fifteen minutes (Fif! Teen! Minutes!), I had him.
  3. Use every kind of media. Since every one of my students was capable of human language, YouTube has existed. So when I wanted to jump start a class on family members, I brought in this video of Frère Jacques. Unaccountably Latin beat notwithstanding, I have never seen them so quiet. But it doesn’t all have to be new media. I read that same Spot book when I was little, and it is manifestly worth its weight in baguettes.
  4. Open the lines of communication between yourself, other teachers, and parents. When I called the school earlier to talk to the principal about my T&F instigator, the woman who answered happened to be his preschool teacher and volunteered lots of ideas for classroom control. And to the second point — this is my first time working in the school system, but I’d gotten the idea via CNN horror stories that preschool parents these days tended toward the wretched. That they called the Board if their kid fell during recess, or drank soda at a birthday party, or got a D on a spelling test. Maybe it’s all my time with east cost private schools. But when I wrote T&F’s mom, she was totally understanding and apologetic. And she even gave T&F a talk — how much it helped is, of course, another matter.

I’m sure to stumble across some more gems soon — after all, we’re only halfway done. And I’ll post them here, natch. Meanwhile, if anyone reaches any revelations on the subject, please drop by me. I’ve got a T&F instigator, not to mention seven more eager gigglers, to win over. And, of course, make fluent by mid-December.

jobless but cameraful (photo essay)

I was informed a couple hours ago that I didn’t get the aforementioned (and posted about) Dream Job.

Luckily, actions taken earlier in the day (not to guard against affirmations of unemployment and ensuing mopeyness, because of course that hadn’t happened when I ran morning errands — but taken just the same) have insulated me against feeling totally worthless, because Wow do we have an awesome kitchen. We did before but we really do now. Thank you, Target and Loews.

So instead of mopeyness, I’m just going to pack your eyes with photos of the kitchen in midafternoon light. The very same kitchen in which I will soon make a g’normous pot of macaroni and cheese . . . and settle in to look at job sites. Again.

entering the kitchen

inside the kitchen

new shelving unit!


(living with a californian: sees candy and sprinkles mix)




recent corks

basil plant

stowaway in the sloth room

Not to jinx it, but I’ve just applied for what may be eastern Iowa’s closest approximation of my dream job (well, one of them. The one that’s not being Frank Bruni, or whoever does this). And not to hedge my bets, but if I don’t get said dream job, I already have a plan. I’m going to live in the Iowa Museum of Natural History.

I’m not saying the NMNH (Smithsonian, in DC) wouldn’t be a bit dreamier. They do, for instance, have a giant African elephant in the foyer, and the full-scale dinosaur exhibit that planted the first seeds of dino-adoration within me, which later blossomed into memorizing every line in “Jurassic Park”. (I do mean Every. Line.) Also, I know exactly where to find an 18 inch video screen that loops an animation on the extinction of trilobites, which has been there at least since I was five. Also, the Hope Diamond.

The AMNH (New York, proved that Pluto wasn’t a planet before NASA) might be even better for three reasons. One, they skipped the foreplay and put dinosaurs in the foyer. This is great, for they seem to have intuited exactly how I will arrange my future house. Two, since it lacks the Smithsonian’s hollowed-out central axis, from which every exhibition room radiates, it’s much easier to get lost. The elevators never come and some staircases lead to nowhere, which is certainly annoying if you’re a visitor but not if you’re a stowaway. Three, it’s right on Central Park.


new york dinosaur

It’s true, the Iowa museum isn’t so much with the dinosaur skeletons or the taxidermic elephants (though it does overlook the quad lawn). But they know everything about ancient Iowa. For instance, it used to be a giant ocean, which is why there are so many fish fossils including Dunkleosteus, an armed fish as large as a school bus with the one of the most powerful bites in the ancient world. Another big creature: Rusty, giant sloth and the museum’s unofficial mascot, nine feet tall from head to tail and nineteen around, who they dress up for Halloween parties. Seriously. They love their sloths.

Anyway, I bet you don’t know that horses actually evolved in the Americas, or that Native Americans used to make beads out of porcupine quills before the Europeans arrived, or a bunch of other things I didn’t know either until my mini-tour this afternoon.

But soon I’ll know all the secrets, because if I don’t get the dream job then I’m going to be a (stowaway, unpaid) docent for dozens of kiddies. And that will be lovely, too.