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More comfortable with my understanding of how anthropology works in the real world

by Nikki Harabedian, Fall 2019 intern

Note: Nikki wrote a blog post before she started her internship and one after she finished. Both are here.

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Mason impersonating Dr. Means while I clean remnants of a shipwreck.


My name is Nikki Harabedian and I am a VCU student with a double major in anthropology and religious studies. It is my last semester at VCU, therefore I am completing this internship at the Virtual Curation Lab in order to gain experience and receive credit for the experiential learning portion of my degree. I usually prefer the cultural or social side of anthropology, so interning at the Curation Lab is definitely a bit out of my comfort zone (since it is geared towards the more archaeological and biological subfields). I’m hoping that the lab will make me more comfortable with these areas of anthropology and maybe even more interested in them. I’m sure it’s my lack of experience, but I also feel like I’m not completely positive how to apply anthropology outside of a classroom setting. Hopefully, I will be able to understand how to do more real world anthropology by the end of the semester. 

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Me cleaning a syphilitic skull.


Reflecting on my blog post at the beginning of the semester, I would say that I definitely learned what I had hoped to. I still feel somewhat shaky on my knowledge of archaeology, but it’s also the one subfield that I know I’m not interested in, so I’m not too concerned. More than anything, my knowledge of biological anthropology was strengthened. While we could physically work with skulls and bones in the human evolution lab class, it was always among a big group and more orientated towards finishing the work than actually absorbing anything. Now, after interning, I had to individually piece together bones (even if they weren’t human) and understand their structure in order to be able to scan, edit, and print pieces. I feel much more confident with anatomy than I had earlier in the semester. More importantly though, I am significantly more comfortable with my understanding of how anthropology works in the real world. Working on projects for so many professionals really illustrated how my lifestyle will be after college, especially because so many individuals came into the lab to speak with us. I also feel like I have many more resources at my accessibility in order to jump start my career path.

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