Inspired by the opportunity to gain global experience, MLIS student Kijana Stringer enrolled in one of the newest course offerings at the SJSU information school – LIBR 298: Virtually Abroad.
“I want to pursue a career that involves working abroad,” said Stringer, who currently works as an event planner in Los Angeles while completing her MLIS degree.
Similar to a virtual internship, in which students work remotely while gaining on-the-job experience with a real information organization, the Virtually Abroad course, taught by Dr. Paul Christensen, links students to organizations that have an international focus or mission. And while some of these organizations may be based in the United States, the experience students walk away with has global implications.
The organization Stringer connected with this semester, Information New Wave, located in Brooklyn, New York, focuses on bridging the digital divide and fostering digital literacy on an international level. The organization is currently targeting Latin American countries and has plans to expand their work in developing nations in Asia.
The focus of Stringer’s project during the Virtually Abroad course was improving information services by identifying what was needed to create more effective Library and Information Science (LIS) programs in Latin America. “I created quantitative pilot surveys to assess the needs and attitudes of LIS students and sent the surveys to six librarians and information specialists in Latin America for evaluation,” she said. “Once we receive feedback, we’ll distribute the surveys to LIS school leaders, library directors and information specialists in Latin American and the Caribbean.”
To connect with Information New Wave, Stringer cold called the organization at the start of the semester and asked if they had any projects that a student could work on. “Dr. Christensen suggested I contact them, which led to sending them my resume followed by a phone interview. They then asked if I wanted to be a research assistant,” Stringer recalled. From there, Stringer fine-tuned her project based on the course objectives and developed her goals.
“I had always thought about working in librarianship – I love to do research,” Stringer said. “When I discovered the MLIS program at the SJSU information school, I realized getting this degree was a reality.” With a target graduation date of Summer 2013, Stringer hopes to live an international lifestyle working in a globally-minded information organization.
LIBR 298 Special Studies (Virtually Abroad): “You get international experience and learn about librarianship on a global level. It’s great for someone who is independent-minded.”