Alumna Cynthia Mari Orozco Worked with Digital Collections in Two Prestigious Internships

Orozco spent eight weeks at the University of California at San Diego as a Fellow in the Association of Research Libraries Career Enhancement Program, followed by a 4-week remote student internship with the Smithsonian Libraries. Both opportunities allowed her to develop her cataloging and collection development skills and to build on her previous graduate work in Latin American Studies.

Orozco’s Career Enhancement Program fellowship focused on the Latin American Studies collection at UC San Diego. “The library had digitized 155 political posters from their special collection, and needed me to do research on the metadata,” explained Orozco. “I had to find out what country each poster was from, along with the candidate and political party, so the posters could be described and cataloged.”

The ARL Career Enhancement Program, which is funded by a three-year grant from the Institute for Museum and Library Services, also includes mentorship, leadership training, and other professional development opportunities for library science students. Orozco had a chance to hone the presentation skills necessary for interviewing and working in academic libraries by giving a lecture to UC San Diego library staff on distance learning technologies in the SLIS program. “I felt really prepared to give the presentation, because I’d practiced instruction in my Information Literacy class,” Orozco said.

Her professional connections in the ARL Career Enhancement Program led Orozco to the internship opportunity at the Smithsonian Institution, where she researched their Spanish language collection and selected titles for a new digitization project. She identified rare materials in anthropology, archaeology, and indigenous languages, researched other current library digitization efforts, and recommended titles for the Smithsonian’s project.

As the first remote student intern in the Smithsonian’s Digital Services Department, Orozco carried out all her tasks from her home in Southern California. “Because I had experience with virtual education in the SLIS program, I was confident that I could complete the internship virtually,” explained Orozco, who used the Library’s online catalogs and kept in touch with her colleagues via phone and email.

Orozco said she was able to find internship opportunities by making connections and getting involved in professional organizations. As a student, she volunteered her time as the President of LISSTEN (Library and Information Science Students to Encourage Networking), which is now the combined student-alumni group SLISConnect. “It was a really good experience, and I had the chance to do so many things I otherwise wouldn’t have done,” Orozco said. She also recommends subscribing to professional listservs and maintaining good relationships with professors as a way to stay informed about new opportunities.

Orozco enrolled at SJSU SLIS in Fall 2009 after earning a Master’s degree in Latin American Studies from San Diego State University. She followed the academic libraries and archival studies Career Pathways and graduated in August 2011 after completing her internships.