Student Markita Dawson Broadens Skills during Virtual Internship

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Moving outside her comfort zone, San José State University School of Information student Markita Dawson chose a summer internship that allowed her to gain experience with topics and activities she hadn’t focused on in her electives.

Her efforts to broaden her skills paid off, and Dawson is now much more confident in her research abilities. The virtual nature of her internship also helped Dawson learn to be self-reliant and maintain professionalism during virtual communication.

The focus of Dawson’s virtual internship for the Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Library at San José State University was researching free and affordable educational resources. For example, she discovered free history textbooks through Orange Grove Textbooks and a Yale University lecture on the poet Langston Hughes for the African American Studies subject guide. After evaluating each resource, she added it to the online library guide for use by faculty and students.  Dawson honed her search skills during this process, gaining valuable experience and confidence that she says she can apply at every future job.

“My goal was to gain experience in academia and working online,” Dawson said. “People are using tools that are mainly online, such as library guides, because they are so convenient. My internship gave me valuable experience in building such a resource.”

Her efforts will also directly affect both faculty and students at SJSU by increasing the number of quality educational resources they have access to when the guides launch in January 2014.

Dawson offers sound advice to prospective interns: “When you get into the internship, have fun. It won’t be worth it if you are stressed the entire time.”

She recommends that students investigating an internship first clearly define what they want to get out of it. Researching the internship site is the next step, not only to prepare for an interview, but also to ensure the organization is one the student will enjoy working for. Finally, once the internship begins, students must follow through on time commitments. Especially with virtual internships, students must be dedicated, proactive and responsive.

Dawson will apply the skills she gained through her internship as she continues on the Youth Librarianship Career Pathway at the iSchool. Expecting to graduate in spring 2014, Dawson hopes to transition from her current position as a Librarian Technician II at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas (UNLV), to a Young Adult Librarian position. She is keeping her options open, however, and would also be happy to work in an academic library focusing on professional development for educators.

Throughout high school and as she was completing her undergraduate degree in communication studies at UNLV, Dawson volunteered or worked in libraries. Explaining her decision to enroll in our school’s MLIS program, she said, “I just came to love what libraries stood for. I saw them as the center of knowledge and I wanted to be a part of it.”

Influential Instructors

Dr. Lili Luo helped me better understand reference librarianship. And Beth Wrenn-Estes is the reason I want to become a youth librarian. She challenges her students, but is straightforward about her expectations.”

Career Tip

“Never stop learning and accepting challenges. It will be stressful, but if you persevere, you will achieve your goals.”

Tech Tip 

“Take a technology class. I took a class that focused on social media to understand how it pertains to libraries.”

Professional Affiliations

Association for Information and Science Technology (serves as secretary); American Library Association; Nevada Library Association

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