While working for the North Adams Maker’s Mill, Lara Dudley’s primary job was coverage of open hours. She generally worked from eleven to five on Fridays and twelve to five on Saturdays. While greeting any visitors, answering any question they may have about the Mill and its workings and helping members Lara would also update the Mill’s social media with pictures of the work that members and residents have been creating throughout the week. She also repainted part of the screen printing room and researched grant possibilities. In addition Lara created a new system to organize and lend out the various reference materials and books that they Mill has.
My Internship at the North Adams Maker’s Mill has been an interesting challenge that has allowed me to learn more about both working in a small non-profit organization as well as about myself. In the beginning of the internship I struggled to find my feet and my place. I often felt at a loss for the best way to be productive while I was there; I was unsure of what my role was. In my past work experiences I had always had very clearly defined jobs and goals. While working at the Emerson House, for instance, I even have a script to follow while giving the tour. While I have since then tweaked and adjusted the script to reflect my personality, my job and the tour I give are well defined. While working at the Mill; however, I didn’t have specific tasks to perform. As I became more aware of the workings of the organization, I was able to see what needed to be done on my own.
I was able to discover my place after learning more about both the inner workings of the Mill and a bit about myself. My major job was covering the door during open hours so that way if people wandered in I would be able to greet them, tell them about the Mill, and answer any questions they might have had. However, as visitors are generally sparse and random I often had flexible time to work on other items for the Mill, which was when I was at a loss. One day we received a large donation of fabrics and I decided to organize the materials that we already had in order to be able to fit the new material. Organization has always been a skill that I excel at and it was one needed by the Mill.
After organizing the fiber arts inventory, I created a system for housing the Maker’s Mill’s books. All the different books that the Mill owns are in small cubbies for use by the members. I organized them in categories to place each book in the proper section and created an entirely new system of cataloging the books so that the members may borrow them, instead of merely using them in the Mill. The new system allows the Mill to know what books they have, what categories on the shelves they belong to, and who has checked them out as well as when. That was the skills I was able to bring to the aid of the Maker’s Mill, my ability to create systems of organization and streamline processes.
I do wish it had not taken me so long to find how I could best serve the Mill. If I were to redo the experience, I would be able to do more because I recognize now my strengths as well as the Maker’s Mill needs. I felt very nervous and wary of doing something wrong in the beginning with the amount of freedom I had. Looking around and picking something to work on has not been easy for me but as I have discovered more about my own capabilities it has begun to be easier and I feel more confident while working at the Mill and hopefully in my future.