Internship Helped iSchool Alumna Jen Richter Land Job

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“From the very first day of my internship, I had my own reference desk set up in the middle of the library’s computer area,” said Richter, who graduated in fall 2008. “When students had questions, they immediately saw me.”

Help wasn’t far away if Richter needed it — a reference librarian sat about 20 feet away — but most questions concerned straightforward inquiries, such as how to find books in the library or use databases. But by the end of her fall 2007 internship, Richter had the chance to do more in-depth research in response to faculty requests.

“When I started the internship, I wasn’t sure what I was going to specialize in,” she said. “But working in reference gave me immediate satisfaction. It really shaped my career goals to go into reference services.”

Richter, who recently started a new job as a reference librarian at Sacramento Public Law Library, said the internship taught her to focus her attention on the patrons who need the most guidance regarding the basics of how to use a library. The community college library where she interned houses about 24,000 books, as well as subscriptions to 100 journals and magazines and 57 databases.

One of her assignments involved writing a presentation regarding how to use a database. She showed her draft to her supervisor, who steered Richter toward making it far simpler.

“The initial draft of my presentation included a lot of information about searching proximity and truncation,” Richter recalled with a laugh. “My supervisor said, ‘you’re going to have to take this down a notch. If a student doesn’t know anything about databases, what are they five things they need to know?’ Her advice definitely gave me a better sense of how to give directions that are easy to follow.”