Student Jane Fry has worked as a data specialist at Carleton University in Ontario, Canada, for 14 years, and is earning her Master of Library and Information Science (MLIS) degree to qualify for a data librarian position there.
“I have always been interested in data, and want to take the next step in my career,” Fry said. “Once I have my MLIS in hand, I will be better situated to achieve my goal of working as a data librarian.”
When Fry decided to complete an internship as part of the MLIS program, she found it challenging to find an existing internship opportunity that was a good fit for her interests. She contacted Dr. Patricia Franks, who coordinates the school’s virtual internships, and after consulting with Franks, decided to find her own internship opportunity and then get it approved by Franks.
Fry found an opportunity at the University of New Brunswick, working with an internship site supervisor who is a data librarian there, as well as head of the Education Committee for Statistics Canada’s Data Liberation Initiative (DLI). The initiative’s website describes it as “a partnership between post-secondary institutions and Statistics Canada for improving access to Canadian data resources."
Working with Franks and her internship site supervisor, Fry put together a proposal to analyze DLI survey data. Her site supervisor was excited to have this survey data analyzed, and Fry was excited about the opportunity as well. “Not only was this work interesting and engaging, the experience also looks quite good on my CV,” she said.
Fry delved deeply into DLI survey data, which solicits feedback from data librarians across the country every four years. The survey was last conducted a year ago, and hardly any analysis had been done on it, Fry said.
She created a 70-slide PowerPoint presentation of her analysis that she will share at the DLI Canadian National Data Conference in spring 2014. Her slides provide graphic representation of the survey results, including the size of participating institutions, the statistical software used, the number of data-related questions institutions received, and which DLI products and services they use.
This information gives DLI members an overview of the current state of the field and helps the DLI make informed decisions about current and future products and services. Fry’s analysis of the data also increases the stockpile of information available to future researchers.
Fry is most proud of the work she did on the presentation, as she was solely responsible for organizing the presentation, deciding what data to analyze and how to present it. She also wrote a review of the survey and highlighted areas for improvement. Fry said her site supervisor will use her report to revise the next survey.
Doing primary analysis on a survey was a highlight of her internship experience, Fry said. Besides sharpening her data analysis skills, she improved her ability to use a statistical software package called SPSS for data analysis and formatting. The internship also helped build her confidence, which she hopes will be apparent in future job interviews.
Fry advises prospective interns to consider creating a custom internship. However, she cautions that “there are many hoops to jump through to have a custom internship approved, so start working on it a few months in advance.”
Knowing she had to earn an MLIS degree in order to work as a librarian for her current employer, Fry started searching for an MLIS program, which led her to SJSU SLIS. The flexibility of online courses fit with her busy schedule and allowed her to continue living in the small town of Carleton Place, which she loves.
Expecting to complete her MLIS degree in spring 2014, Fry already has bachelor’s and master’s degrees in sociology.
Dr. Michelle Simmons -- “I took two courses with her, partly because of the excellent recommendation she gets from other students, and partly because I was interested in her LIBR 287 class on Information Literacy. I also took LIBR 210 Reference Services with her.”
Dr. Patricia Franks -- “She provided many excellent career tips.”
“If you know what direction you want to take, go for it. Think outside the box. Look for your own internship. Ask your classmates. Ask the professors. If you choose a career that you enjoy, it won’t seem like you are going to work every day. You will be going to do something you genuinely enjoy.”
“Don’t be afraid to ask for help. If you don’t want to ask your professor, ask your classmates. Also, don’t be afraid to try new technologies.”
“The Facebook groups at SLIS. They have been very helpful to me and are a great form of support -- very important for online learning.”