Shannon Billups ’24

Berkshire NAACP, Pittsfield, MA

Over the summer I was given the opportunity to intern for the Berkshire County NAACP where I worked on an annotation project for W.E.B. Du Bois’s The Souls of Black Folk. In my effort to find an internship for the summer, I came across this one in an email from the ’68 Center. It stood out as an opportunity that would be perfect for me. I had actually just read the book for an African American literature class and I knew I’d love to take a deeper look into it.

Working on my annotation project for W.E.B. Du Bois’s
The Souls of Black Folk.

For my project, I annotated each chapter of the book, the sorrow songs and poem excerpts that came with each chapter, created questions from the reading, glossaries and timelines, and found contemporary sources to go along with each chapter. Du Bois references and alludes to many people, places, and historical events in his books which required extensive research to annotate his work. I’d have weekly meetings with my supervisor to discuss the work I’ve done and monthly meetings with the rest of the team to discuss the project overall; and I am able to continue coming to the monthly meetings so I can stay a part of the project I’ve worked on.

This project has given me the real-world job experience I always knew I’d need but somewhat feared. There were always thoughts of not doing my job well enough, or not completely understanding my work, or having difficult colleagues to work with. However, this internship put all those fears to rest. I enjoyed my work, felt confident about it, and enjoyed those I got to work with. This work was the type I always imagined myself doing, but never could figure out what jobs allowed me to do such. This job really opened my eyes to the type of work I can be doing following my graduation.

There’s no doubt in my mind that I’d do an internship like this again, and hope I’ll have the opportunity in the future. I’d like to continue working in the nonprofit industry and/or work more on literary research. My internship reminded me of comments about doing work you love because it doesn’t feel like work. It didn’t feel like a job to me as much as it felt like an activity. The words of Du Bois are timeless ones and being able to deeply look into his work is something that will follow me for the rest of my life. I really enjoyed this internship and those that I worked with and hope that it was just the start of my future career. I thank the ’68 Center for Career Exploration and the Kraft Family for providing me with the knowledge and resources to be able to work on this internship. It was a blessing that words can’t articulate.