Student Frank Djeng Puts Web Design Skills to Work in Virtual Internship

Student Frank Djeng gained valuable professional and technical experience in website design and maintenanc­e, thanks to his virtual internship at the Oakland Public Library.

During his Spring 2011 virtual internship, Djeng helped the Oakland Public Library (OPL) migrate content from its existing library website to Drupal – an open source content management system. “The library’s website had not been upgraded since its inception in the early nineties,” Djeng explained. “The completed content migration will make the library’s website more aesthetically pleasing, easier to navigate, and ultimately improve overall virtual service delivery for OPL.”

Djeng has a longstanding connection with the Oakland Public Library. He began working at one of OPL’s branch libraries as a Library Aide as a participant in a high school summer job program during the late eighties. Djeng was promoted to a Library Assistant after completing his undergraduate degree. “Over the past 20 years, I have worked at a number of OPL branches, both fulltime and part-time,” said Djeng.

Djeng keeps a busy schedule, in addition to his SLIS courses; he works on Sundays at OPL’s main library information desk while also maintaining a regular fulltime job. Working six days a week, Djeng thought it would be impossible to complete an on-site internship where he would be expected to devote time physically at an internship location. The virtual internship alternative offered just the flexibility he needed. “Being able to do a customized internship remotely and totally online was very appealing,” Djeng explained. “I was able to work on the project at home or anywhere during times I didn’t have to work, which was usually late at night.”

Djeng’s virtual internship gave him a chance to apply the skills he had acquired in his SLIS web design and technology courses. “Being able to work on a library website project has been my wish ever since I made the decision to focus my MLIS studies in the areas of web design and technology about midway through my program,” explained Djeng. Last summer Djeng took Information Technology Tools and Applications (LIBR 240) with Derek Christiansen as his first technology course and admits that he “enjoyed the course tremendously. The skills and techniques that I learned — web-coding languages like HTML and CSS— I found to be really useful and beneficial,” said Djeng. Djeng also completed Jeremy Kemp’s Seminar in Information Science (LIBR 287) and learned about website conversions for the iPad, iPhone and other mobile platforms.

Djeng noted, “After browsing through various library job sites like Libjobs, Baynet and LibGig, having technical expertise in library virtual services and web programming seem to be primary requirements for many library positions today.” Djeng believes his virtual internship experience will benefit him greatly after he completes his MLIS studies and begins his job hunt.

When asked if Djeng had any tips for other students considering virtual internships, he said, “Be sure to find a virtual internship that will allow you to gain valuable experience that you can use in a real life library setting.” Djeng also noted that, “time management is very important in virtual internships. Like the SLIS courses, work for the internship is done entirely online, so you need to allocate enough time to get the internship’s assignments done within a predetermined time frame.”

While Djeng’s official virtual internship concluded at the close of the Spring 2011 semester, due to the project’s enormous scope and Djeng’s enthusiasm, he was asked to continue through to the project’s completion which is anticipated to be early 2012. Djeng sees the opportunity to complete the OPL website project as an invaluable learning opportunity and a win for both he and the library. “Because the City of Oakland doesn’t have the budget to hire staff to help the library with the website conversion work and I have always wanted to see the OPL website be comparable to the next generation library websites that many other public library systems are adapting, my continuation with the project works out perfectly for all involved,” explained Djeng.

Djeng began his SLIS studies in Spring 2009, and he will be graduating in Fall 2011. He has aspirations of becoming a public librarian and eventually a branch library manager.