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Rachelle Hampton

Smithsonian, Smithsonian Institution
Bedford, TX | Northwestern University

   Black Twitter. Pre-colonial voting rights. A Basque ship. Archie Comics’ feminist reboot. Migratory patterns of black people escaping the Jim Crow South. Frederick Douglass’ love for photography. In one way or another, I’ve managed to have a chance to work on pieces about all of these subjects within the last ten weeks. It’s been a whirlwind and at times it felt like my feet never quite touched the ground for more than second or two. It’s been an affirmation that this is the world I want to live in after graduation.

   My internship at Smithsonian Magazine isn’t my first, I’ve interned at a small liberal-progressive magazine and my university’s alumni publication so I had an idea of what to expect. I knew that the groundwork of great magazines isn’t the big-name writers that they contract or the glossy photographs that draw the eye, it’s the Monday morning editorial meetings and the canceled interviews and the re-reporting you sometimes have to do when a writer doesn’t come through. It’s the weeks of pulling data for a graphic and then the days it takes to fit all of that information into two pages. It’s running to the Library of Congress for a book only to find out that the information you need isn’t there.

   What I never could have expected is how amazing my small but mighty team has been. Going into a national magazine with an audience of 2 million, I expected a little bit of ego and a lot of paying my dues. What I found was editors willing to not only listen to my ideas but to incorporate them into pieces, bosses that went out their way to make sure I knew I had done a great job, co-workers who supplied endless amounts of free Starbucks and career advice. On my first day my managing editor asked me what I wanted to accomplish this summer, promised to make it happen (within reason) and I can honestly say that it has. 

Rachelle is a magazine journalism major at Northwestern University, where she serves as resident expert on Hamilton: The Musical and editor of The Spectrum, a weekly opinion column for marginalized voices. 

I’ve gotten a chance to write for the web on issues that I care about, my name will appear in the print issue besides a graphic that I spent weeks researching and I found people that I’m sad to leave. I kept saying towards the end of my time here at Smithsonian that it felt weird to be leaving because from day one I didn’t feel like just the intern. I think the best part of the past ten weeks was hearing them say the same thing back.