Consulting Internships for Bridging Coursework into Knowledge Management Work Environments
Published: September 1, 2020 by Dr. Virginia Tucker
Internships create extraordinarily valuable opportunities for students during their MLIS degree program experiences. For those preparing for careers in knowledge management (KM), an internship in a business environment that draws on abilities, both in design concepts and best practices, can be especially supportive of learning what is needed to onboard rapidly and successfully after graduation (Tucker, 2018). I had the distinct delight of being able to pull together a team of three student-interns as part of a complex consulting project that resulted in rich and multifaceted learning for all involved. The consulting internships were ideal for helping the students connect what they had learned in their coursework, primarily in information retrieval design and vocabulary design, to the demands of the consulting project’s deliverables.
The scope of the initial project was to design a taxonomy to represent academic departmental structures, needed to support scholarly publisher tools for generating metrics and interpretive assessment of publishing trends. A second project followed later, involving mapping of smaller subject hierarchies into the developed taxonomy. Throughout the year and a half of the work, the three interns on the team used the knowledge from their courses at the iSchool as a kind of launchpad for further exploration of taxonomy design principles and practices, then they applied this to the project requirements. In the last stages of the project, I invited them to collaborate with me on a research article about their learning experiences (Tucker et al., 2018). This led to yet another learning outcome for the students: understanding and experiencing the processes of developing a research publication, from start to finish. By then, we knew the strengths of each team member quite well; one took the lead on gathering literature, another on editing, and another collected quotes that best reflected their important takeaways at different stages during their internships. Although the projects had ended, our clients were enthusiastic in support of publishing about them, reviewing the manuscript to ensure it complied with company proprietary protocols, as well as vetting a second article I wrote later about methodologies used in taxonomy design (Tucker, 2019).
Tucker, V.M., Dale, J., Egge, V., & Fullman, E. (2018). Student internships within an information consulting practice: A case study of taxonomy design. Information and Learning Sciences, 119(7/8), 403-413. https://doi.org/10.1108/ILS-02-2018-0008
Tucker, V.M. (2018). Accelerating student learning for taxonomy design work: Rapid onboarding through consultant-internships. Association for Information Science & Technology (ASIS&T) and International Conference on Knowledge Management (ICKM) Joint Conference, November 9-14, 2018, Vancouver BC.
Tucker, V.M. (2019). Taxonomy design methodologies: Emergent research for knowledge management domains. IFLA Journal. EarlyCite: https://doi.org/10.1177/0340035219877206