Community Profiles

MARA Student Amy Abadilla Expands Archival Skills and Professional Network as a Virtual Intern

Before graduating from our School’s MARA program, Amy Abadilla completed a virtual internship in a film archive, bringing her one step closer to her career goal of working in archives or records management.  Abadilla’s virtual internship involved cataloging video clips for the specialized film archives at Oddball Film and Video (OFV).

“The virtual internship gave me a great opportunity to see how an active archive of this kind works,” Abadilla said. “I was also one of the first virtual interns for this organization, so we worked together to establish stable methods of communication and file delivery.”

A typical workday for Abadilla involved cataloging batches of video clips received through cloud computing and exchanging e-mails with her internship site director. She gained expertise in FileMaker Pro and in the Society of Motion Picture and Television Engineers (SMPTE) timecode standards, both of which are required knowledge for audiovisual archival work. To help catalog the video clips, Abadilla conducted research through Google Maps, subscription databases, and Wikipedia to retrieve accurate information on what she saw, particularly landmarks and signs.

While learning software, standards, and skills ranked highly for her, Abadilla noted that networking with professionals counted most in her experience. “The biggest accomplishment is building relationships with those with whom you work,” she said. True to form, Abadilla kept in touch with the director of OFV after her internship ended. She recently received a letter of recommendation from him and planned to strengthen this professional connection by attending the Association of Moving Image Archivists Conference.

“You have to treat an internship like a paid job, because it shows that you care about what needs to be done,” recommended Abadilla to prospective virtual interns. Maintaining contact and showing initiative was key to her success, she explained, noting that she paid an in-person visit to OFV before the semester started, thereby demonstrating her willingness to go above and beyond the minimum requirements. “Seeing the site and the physical collections helped me greatly in understanding the scope of my job,” she said. Finally, Abadilla advised choosing the right internship opportunity: “Go for something that aligns with your interests or career aspirations,” she said. “You tend to produce a better product when you're working for a company that suits your interests.”

Though she currently works in the Reference Services department of the Seattle Public Library assisting in operations management, Abadilla has been interested in archives for years because of her background in fine art photography and experience using archival practices to manage negatives and prints.

Originally an MLIS student, Abadilla discovered that archival work was her true calling and changed programs in 2009. She earned her MARA degree in 2012. Her dream job will allow her to work as an archivist for an organization whose mission and collections she believes in.

You can learn more about Abadilla by reading an article that highlights her journey through the MARA program.