Previous Scholar-Interns



Bernd Loigge

Interning at AGS

During my studies at the University Of Vienna, Austria, I always wanted to do an internship abroad, to gain work experience in an foreign country, to improve my English language skills and to have an invaluable experience, both professionally and personally. In 2010, during a field trip to Canada, I got to know Vancouver, one of the most beautiful cities in the world. So I decided that my internship has to be in one of the mega cities in North America. Since my girlfriend Iris was doing her MBA in a one-year program in New York, the Big Apple became the place to be. I searched for different opportunities and came across the American Geographical Society’s internship program for which I immediately applied. I was very happy when I got final acceptance at AGS.

I was warmly welcomed by Maria and overwhelmed by all the interesting literature, maps and paintings. Most of all however I was fascinated by the Fliers’ and Explorers’ Globe and all the famous signatures on it. Since I applied different courses in programming and visualizing digital-globes and geo-browser related content, I suggested creating a virtual version of the globe for Google Earth. As AGS’ homepage gets rebuilt at the moment, this was a great opportunity to design some interactive content. After geo-referencing the overlay I gathered information about all the signers, which was finally integrated in the application. It was really fascinating to read about all the famous people and their achievements in the world of geography. Although I had basic knowledge in using the KML-notation, I learned many new interesting things in applying this mark-up language. The final version of the globe can be viewed in a few weeks on AGS’ new website.

One of the other projects I was working on was the creation of an interactive application of AGS’ Transcontinental Excursion of 1912. My main goal was to give an insight of the daily life during the excursion based on the information from the Memorial Volume of the excursion.

Overall I had a great time here in New York City and working with AGS. I have to thank Maria and the other interns for all the great moments at the office and during our lunch-walks.

Bodi Du


Bodi Du

My AGS Summer Adventure

Upon applying for the summer internship at American Geographical Society (AGS), I didn’t hold any expectation of working here as a non-(geography) major student, though my interest in geography was revealed way back in my teenage years. The original aspiration was to see how geography is related to real world and what geographers are doing. It turned out that AGS is a great place as it is the hub of all geographical contributions, both academic as well as professional, across the country since the year of 1851.

As a political science student, I was excited when offered a chance to broaden my horizon by switching to another field during which I could also get familiar with regular office work. Maria Rosa, the operations manager and supervisor of all interns gave me a warm welcome and gave me my daily tasks. I became soon relieved from the uncertainties as a newcomer. Besides, I was delighted to be exposed to a part of AGS office library items, literature and maps that are available at hand in the office, and I believe it is huge resource for those who would like to do geography-related research.

I started the internship digitizing document and creating a filing system on the computer. With a long history since its establishment in the last century, AGS has many old documents that need to be digitalized. I learned quickly under Maria’s guidance how to use the office equipment to accomplish the work. Though I did it in a comparably little amount of time, this work indeed cultivated my carefulness and patience.

After I had completed my task with digitalization and I was involved heavily in the layout the quarterly AGS publication – Ubique. 

As for office atmosphere and staff that I worked with, it was always jubilant and cheerful, and everybody was so talented and kind. When it came to lunch time, the whole crew sometimes went out together to grab some salad down stairs and take a walk.

It was great pleasure spending my summer here in Brooklyn Heights where AGS office locates. I gained valuable experience that made me grow is what I treasure the most.




 Jason Black

Reconnecting with the AGS

As a recent graduate from my master’s program at the University of Nottingham, it was time to look for an opportunity that would launch my geography career.  I interned with the AGS in the summer of 2009 and I thought I would contact them to see if they could help me in some way.  When they gave me the opportunity to intern with them once again, I knew I was embarking on another adventure.

I knew from my previous experience that I was not only going to be working within a prestigious organization, I would be able to showcase my new achievements, knowledge, and self-growth from the time I finished my first internship.  Being back, it felt as though I never left and was again greeted with a warm smile from the staff.

The work I have done this time around was still as exciting as it was two summers ago, which shows the consistency and improvement of the AGS.  As office work is necessary in any job, I was also given the opportunity to manage their social media sites to promote the society positively and effectively.  Through these means, I have been able to expand how the society interacts with the public and other geographers around the world.

My biggest project though was to help organize the society’s booth for the AAG conference in February.  To prepare for the conference, I was responsible for creating information pamphlets and posters about the society.  As I began my geography education at Clark University, the AAG conference was a bit of a mystery, but to be given the opportunity to go to the conference and represent the AGS was a honor.  I also had the privilege be involved with the Fliers’ and Explorers’ Globe and was present at the unveiling of the first replica in New York City.

I knew what I was doing for the society was important.  Working at the booth for the duration of the conference, I felt as though I was part of the AGS team.  It has been another great opportunity to work with the staff and fellow interns these past few weeks.



Kimberly Magaraci

A Geographer Grows

During my time as an intern for the American Geographical Society, I was able to get a first-hand look at the professional lives of geographers.  I was assigned multiple projects to assist the Society’s growth, which helped me learn about varying aspects of the geography field.  My first project was compiling a list of potential employers in the field to add to AGS’s GeoJobs database.  The GeoJobs database expansion required me to research what qualifications geographic employers look for, and it allowed me to understand the multitude of fields that seek geographers.  Through this project, I discovered that many fields employ geographers, including surveyors, cartography companies, academic institutions, and think tanks, as well as technical groups specializing in GPS and GIS technology.  Throughout my tenure as an intern, I continued to append the list of potential geographic employers.

Another project I worked on involved researching previous recipients of two AGS grants, the McColl Fellowship and the Wrigley-Fairchild Prize.  In creating a list of the awards granted, I learned about what research the Society sponsors and the process an applicant goes through for an award of this caliber.  Historically, the AGS has focused their efforts on polar exploration, a tradition that continues today, as many of the recent fellows used their grants to research and publish on topics such as Inuit vulnerability in a warming era, polar whaling, and Canadian Arctic life.  However, I learned that the Society sponsors research efforts as far reaching as Madagascar, and equatorial research, such as rainforest response to hurricanes and natural disasters.

The most interesting task of my internship involved cataloging the expansive library at the Brooklyn office.  Along with another intern, I created a database containing information about every book in the library.  There were over a thousand books on the shelves, and we listed information including the location of the book, the title and author, and several categories and keywords related to the book.  The goal of this project was to make it easier for researchers looking for specific topics to be able to locate resources.  In cataloging these publications, I was able to look through hundreds of books, some dating as far back as the 1800s.  It was incredible to browse atlases from various historical periods and see how the charting of the world has changed over time, and it was extremely educational to see how urban plans and city plans were documented during times of international war, such as the London City Plan, published in the midst of World War II.

My time at AGS as an intern has proven to be extremely enjoyable and I have learned a lot.  I would like to thank Tim, Maria, and Peter for allowing me to work with the Society and expand my experience in the field. I would also like to thank the other interns for making it such a positive environment and experience.  As I return to Rutgers University to finish my last year as an undergraduate, I will be sure to take with me my newfound knowledge of the discipline of geography, and use this knowledge to grow as a geographer and a student.



Simone Morse

An Extraordinary Experience

After I prepared my cup of tea, washed my hands, and downloaded the NPR “All Things Considered.”  I would get to work, digitizing documents or helping to prepare for the departure of The American Geographical Society’s prized possession: the Fliers’ and Explorers’ Globe.  Although my commute was long from the northern Bronx, I always found solace climbing into the pre-modern elevator to climb two flights to the Court Street office.  I could not imagine another office where silence and productiveness exist together.  During my weeks at the Society, I worked on a range of projects.  The longest project I was given was the digitizing of old financial statements.  I would edit and convert them into PDF from JPEG images.  The project took quite some time, but I enjoyed how I could work at a pace that was comfortable for me as I sat at my own desk, and sometimes my office.  It was not long until I felt completely comfortable, able to grab a beverage out of the fridge that Maria provided, and heat up food to eat regardless of whether it was lunchtime.

Interns Kariema and Jason were warm and insightful.  I walked into the office for the first time and was immediately introduced to two very intelligent and amiable people.  Here, I did not worry about teamwork issues or miscommunication.  For my friends at the American Geographical Society, were always respectful of others recommendations and tasks.  At the annual AAG meeting showcased in mid-town New York and the Marriot, we interns had the task of designing our booth with the simple materials on hand.  With patience, a few laughs, and some snacks Kariema graciously offered, we created a very neat display.  I will miss the laughs and hyper-politicized conversations we had around the aged wooden lunch/project table.  And what was especially cool was when Maria would join us.  She always promoted lunchtime and would join us, shedding her boss image as she laughed with us about silliness.

I intend on giving the office a call back sometime in the next year, for I can’t wait to work there again if the opportunity is available.  And I hope to see new faces and work as a group to complete projects.  And when I get back, I’ll be sure to encourage an afternoon walk to Hudson Bay with ice cream.



Samantha Motley

Working with History

As someone who grew up in Brooklyn, right next to Manhattan, I took for granted all of the opportunities this city had to offer.  It was only when I decided to attend Rutgers University in New Brunswick, New Jersey that I truly missed everything about this great city.  When the chance arose to intern in Brooklyn at the American Geographical Society, I jumped at it.  The eleven weeks that followed would be filled with many educational, as well as fun tasks. 

The week I arrived happened to be the week of the AGS conference.  This is a semi-annual event where AGS board members, staff, and councilors come together to discuss the events of the past six months as well as plan for the future.  I helped organize the event and put together booklets containing the information needed for the conference.  My next task would be a little more detailed and time consuming.  I was asked to go through our list of emails for all of the small newspapers to which we send our op-eds to.  Many of these emails had been changed or simply did not exist anymore and it was my job to update them.  I went through all of the small newspapers throughout the country and added new contacts that were not in our system.  This would enable us to reach out to as many small towns as possible and spread information about AGS.  I was then asked to go through our list of subscribers and update their emails and other information. 

My next project was going through old documents and files from previous decades and digitizing them. There were old workmen’s compensation forms as well as old paychecks stubs and tax forms.  I found paperwork dating as far back as the 1920’s and was able to get a glimpse of how business was managed in the earlier days of the Society. 

Our office on Court Street is home to an extensive library containing books with topics ranging from polar exploration to imperialism to baking recipes.  It was my job, along with one of my fellow interns, to make a spreadsheet of all of the books along with their author, publication date, and main themes. By compiling this spreadsheet, we made it possible for staff to find any book in a quick and easy way.  There were a number of very interesting books published in all different states, as well as different countries, that dated back as far as the late 1800s. Going through these books gave me insight into many different cultures and lifestyles of people around the world.  There were also a number of maps, atlases, bibliographies, and dictionaries of foreign languages. 

My final task was to go through our AGS website and liven it up a little bit.  A few changes were needed since we had just moved our office from Wall Street to Court Street.  I wanted to make sure everything was updated as well as make sure it was as user friendly and easy to navigate as possible.  I want visitors to the site to be able to learn what AGS does as well as what individuals can do to get involved.

As I finish writing this on the Monday of my last week of my internship I cannot help but think how fast these weeks have flown by.  From the moment I walked into this office, I was immediately greeted with smiling faces and amiable personalities.  I have learned a great deal during my time here, lessons I will carry with me into the real world.




Christina K. Holmes

Interning at AGS

Working at the American Geographical Society is sort of what I imagine acting in a BBC period drama might be like: exciting to be a small part of history, and at the same time attempting to be relevant to an audience in the 21st century. AGS has a rich history, which is what I was initially attracted to when looking at their internship program. But as I began working there, I realized what was more interesting still, was their efforts in keeping geography relevant in today's globalized world.

I first became interested in geography as a high school student in London. In England, geography is a popular school subject as well as a popular major at the university level. I hoped to pursue geography at the collegiate level in the States but was disappointed to learn my university did not offer it. I took as many classes as closely associated with geography as I could, and upon graduating in May, was happy to find the internship here at the AGS.

Geography in the US is trivialized and perhaps this is because of our Americentric world view. According to statistics issued by the State Department last year, only 37% of US citizens hold a passport. But, geography doesn't just mean knowing countries on a world map (though this is certainly knowledge that is becoming more and more important with globalization and the proliferation of information, which is drawing us closer).  Geography also means understanding our surroundings even here in the US, and how we interact with it.  Geography is an essential part of our everyday lives, so why wouldn’t we want to learn about it and insure our future generations learn about it too?

The AGS's effort to disseminate information on geography and the importance of geographical study is a valiant one. But, like with any mission, as an intern I've learned there always more we can do. The survey that the AGS has helped to produce is an important one, and I encourage anyone to take it and pass it along. It is also important for the AGS to stay relevant in today's world dominated by social media and the Internet. Help us do this by giving us feedback on our website, Facebook page, and Twitter account. It is important we understand our member’s needs, so we can better provide for them. As a not-for-profit, AGS depends on their members, subscribers, and donor's support, and with this support, we can ensure the AGS’s presence in the 21st century is secured.





Interning at AGS

As I am a graduate student of Geography, with a minor in Business Administration and town construction in Cologne, Germany, an internship is part of my studies. I could have done this in Germany, but after a vacation trip to the US last winter, for me it was clear that I would love to do an internship in the US. Through web pages of American Universities I found the recommendation of internships at the American Geographical Society and I sent my resume immediately to Mary Lynne Bird. I got her answer with the confirmation from September through November the very next day and I was so excited about this opportunity to go to New York City. Now, it is my last week of ten weeks at the AGS and I cannot believe how fast time passed by.

When upon arriving at the AGS, I informed that Mary Lynne had just retired by Maria whom took very good care of me. One of the first things I assisted with was the layout of the September 2010 Ubique. Maria showed me how to work with Publisher and to organize the layout in a way that all articles fit in the issue. After finishing the printing and mailing my next projects were the archives. Interns before me had already taken a hundreds of pictures to preserve the Council and Society Minutes back to 1856. So what I did was working on these pictures with different programs to make them better readable and to merge all pictures of one book to one pdf-document. I hope that through this work the research on the Council Minutes will be easier in the future.

Another project I have been working on, are the archives of the correspondence from Isaiah Bowman, the director of the AGs from 1915-1935. To preserve these documents as long as even possible all folder had to be changed to special non-chemical folders. I started to read some correspondence between Bowman and Professors in Europe from different countries during and after the First World War and these files were so interesting that I could not stop reading. You cannot be closer to the history. With this work I learned how much the AGS did back in these days and isstill doing today for Geography. It is so important to preserve all these treasures of the AGS. Other assignments I have been working on were subscribing mailings for students. I really enjoyed working at the AGS and it is an honor for me to have been part of it even for few weeks. I want to thank Mary Lynne for giving me this great opportunity to intern at the AGS and I want to thank Maria for the all the time she spent answering all my questions and showing me around downtown part of Manhattan during the lunch breaks.



Dacey Marie Zelman-Fahm

My Summer Internship at AGS

I grew up in a small town you have never heard of and few venture beyond. I was lucky enough to be raised in an eclectic family with strong ties in global affairs. My grandfather being a consultant for the United Nations and my grandmother an international interpreter introduced me to the diversity of our world.

My increasing love for culture and place had directed me to a double degree in anthropology and geography from the University of Arizona. However, following my 2010 graduation I was overwhelmed with the lack of opportunity in a sunken economy. I found myself nervously sending resumes to every corner of the country. I was thrilled to receive a response from Mary Lynne. Thank You. It took a big gulp and a long stride to leave home for a three month escapade, but it was definitely worth the angst.

My 10-weeks in the AGS office were spent bouncing between many projects. My very first assignment was to research previous interns. Their stories were encouraging, and I realized I was destined for an exciting summer. I next indexed the archive cabinets, which entailed sitting cross-legged for days, ecstatically reading old letters and manuscripts. As the streets bustled outside, I was busy flipping through history. Mylargest undertaking was pushing the AGS further into the digital age. It began by transforming the AGS Wikipedia page from a short stub into an extensive network. I also updated and enlarged the email database by scouring the internet for possible sponsors, members, and Op-Ed newspapers. Lastly, I created and maintained an AGS Facebook page. The number of fans continues to climb, and the Council is elated with the possibilities.

Because exploration is the foundation of the AGS—interns are encouraged to discover. We were provided insight into the dynamic organization, and pushed to delve into the city. I have visited New York before; however, this time the city turned into an entirely new atmosphere of learning. The city of dreams and the AGS office became my playground. Thank you to everyone at the AGS for an amazing experience. I might not have discovered a new world; nonetheless, wandering through the city’s boroughs and the AGS archives, I found certitude. My future as a geographer is sealed.




Jason Black

Interning at the American Geographical Society

As a geography major and a rising senior at Clark University, I wanted to experience what geographers do as a career. By going online I found the American Geographical Society, and I knew that being an intern here would give me the opportunity to work with geographers. The past 11 weeks has put me in contact with geographers and the projects that they are working on. Walking down the hall, and exploring the different books and resources that are within the doors of American Geographical Society, one sees evidence of the success the organization has had in the field of geography. So much information is in one place, and to look at it every day has been amazing.

My biggest task for the summer was to help research the transcontinental excursion across the United States conducted by the American Geographical Society in 1912. In 1912 Professor William Morris Davis of Harvard University directed the excursion across the United States and invited different geographers from Europe and United States to join him as he traveled by train to large cities and explored natural landscapes. One goal of the excursion was to bring geographers together on an educational tour to an area that people did not know much about. I worked with Professor Frederick E. Nelson, the director for the new excursion, which for 2012 will recreate that of 1912. One of the first steps to be undertaken was for me to organize letters from 1910-1912 that dealt with the excursion. I went through different boxes and folders that contained letters, photographs, and other documents from the excursion and put everything in order by date. In order to preserve one-of-a-kind documents, I put them into protective sheets which went into binders. Now more than 1000 documents on the excursion of 1912 can be easily accessible and used for future planning. By organizing these documents, I was able to gain insight to the excursion and learn how Davis was able to complete this successful project.

Everyone in the office has been very helpful and appreciative of everything that all the interns have done. It is nice to hear everyone saying “good job” or “keep up the good work.” This internship has encouraged me to want to continue pursuing geography as a career.



Jennifer Kaye

Interning at AGS

Rewind one year. After switching my major to geography at the University of South Florida I made myself a goal to spend my final college summer interning in New York. I began researching internships in the geography field by talking to my advisors and sifting through online job servers. My advisor recommended the American Geographical Society not only for their convenient location in the Financial District of Manhattan but also for their longstanding commitment to geography and exploration.

The past intern testimonials on the website solidified my aspirations to intern with AGS. I knew immediately after receiving such a sincere and welcoming e-mail from the Executive Director that this summer was going to be unforgettable. I’ve completed several internships prior to this experience but I knew that interning in New York would be a definite step up.

My first assignment involved the archives which I had been reading about extensively on the website. I was told to go drawer by drawer and input the information into an Excel spreadsheet, therefore; when any information was needed a simple search online could tell which folder to look through in the archive room. In the beginning the task was a bit overwhelming but as I delved deeper into the past I was so grateful for having been given this assignment. Letters and maps dated back to the 1800s was only part of it and it was interesting to see the evolution of the study of geography through letters from geographers of the past.

I really got an understanding of what it’s like to work a 9-5 position and what would be expected of me. I know AGS might have given me an idealized version of the 9-5 job though. I doubt there will be a Maria to take us out to lunch every day and show us the sights, but hopefully there will be a staff similar to this one in my future.