Internship Provides Student Allison Higgins with Virtual Archival Experience

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Allison Higgins

San José State University School of Information student Allison Higgins gains valuable virtual archival experience during internship.

Student Allison Higgins hopes that the virtual archival experience she gained during her internship will help her land a job doing virtual archival work for a museum.

Her internship was in the school’s Virtual Center for Archives and Records Administration (VCARA). Higgins developed a virtual collection that documented instructor Lori Bell’s INFO 287 seminar Virtual Worlds: Life in Tudor Times, an immersive experience of living in the Tudor era.

The collection Higgins created will introduce future students to the virtual world in Second Life and role-playing as a person from the Tudor period. She’s especially proud of the slideshows she created about class lectures, Tudor characters and real-life student bios and photos.

“I believe this information will be useful to anyone interested in role-playing in a virtual world,” Higgins said.

Higgins feels the internship will demonstrate to prospective employers her ability to do archival work virtually.

“I feel that through this internship, I have gained more confidence with the tools in Second Life and in learning to interact with others in the virtual environment,” she said. The virtual world was ideal for Higgins, who has difficulties with group activities and large social scenes due to her autism spectrum disorder. The lack of distractions in a virtual internship, as well as the lack of a commute, were added benefits.

Higgins selected a virtual internship because it fit her lifestyle and educational goals. “It allowed me to be flexible so I could still have time to do the things I enjoy, such as swimming, writing and playing the violin,” she said.

Virtual internships aren’t for everyone, she said, so she advises prospective interns to choose the internship they believe is right for them.

Higgins’ career goal to do archival work for a museum led her to pursue the Master of Library and Information Science (MLIS) degree. After earning a bachelor’s degree in humanities from California State University-Sacramento, Higgins selected the MLIS program at San José State University because it was fully online and affordable.

Originally from Davis, California, Higgins lives on campus at SJSU. She serves as a student-at-large for the Associated Students Programming Board Committee, a group that plans all campus events.

She is ecstatic and also a bit daunted about graduating in December 2013 and making the transition from student and volunteer to information professional. She hopes her previous volunteer work at the Sacramento Public Library and the U.S. Bicycling Hall of Fame, along with her internship experience, will put her in a solid position for job seeking this spring.

Approaching her job search with realistic optimism, she’s looking nationwide, and considering moving to New York or Washington, D.C.

“Entering the working world will be completely new and a bit scary for me, so I hope that I find something I can be passionate about,” Higgins said. “I began this program in the fall of 2011, and these two years have been long and stressful, but totally worth it.”

Most Enjoyable Classes

“My most enjoyable classes were INFO 204 Information Organizations & Management and INFO 240 Information Technology Tools & Applications. When I signed up for 204, I didn’t think I was going to like it, since it concentrated on management and seemed business-oriented. However, I had a great instructor, Sean Gaffney. The assignments were interesting, and he let us express views from our own personal experiences.

“INFO 240 ended up being my favorite class because it was all hands-on. We created websites, and added CSS codes for colors, fonts and background images. It was completely immersive and visual, and we were assigned small projects each week.”

Tech Tip

“The main tool I used in my internship was Second Life, which allows students to create avatars and immerse themselves in an alternate world as they connect with others. If you have an interest in virtual worlds, I highly recommend trying Second Life.”