5 Ways to Gain International Experience as a SLIS Student

iStudent Blog

Not only can you enroll in SLIS programs from anywhere around the world, but as a SLIS student you can, in turn, engage with the far reaches of the globe through many of our School’s international experiences. With our profession becoming increasingly virtual (and in many cases borderless), having international experience on your resume can give you an edge and expand your professional network. Here are five ways to broaden the boundaries of your degree.

1. Study Abroad (Virtually)

This Spring, SLIS introduced a new course, LIBR 298: Virtually Abroad, which offers students who have completed core coursework the opportunity to “study abroad” from their own homes. Led by SLIS Lecturer Dr. Paul Christensen, this 3-unit course gives students an opportunity to gain international work experience and develop international contacts in a range of information centers located around the globe. Students may take on semester-long projects that involve LIS skills in research, strategic planning, service evaluation, and more. You can read more about this unique opportunity here.

2.  Virtual Internships

Like a standard internship, where students work at site-specific information centers to learn and participate in a variety of LIS projects, virtual internships pair students with supervisors and relevant projects at information centers that may exist hundreds or thousands of miles away. Many of these established internships have sites located in countries around the world. Students enrolled in a virtual internship gain valuable collaboration skills, experience working in a virtual environment, and cross-cultural experiences when the internship site is located in a different country. Check out FAQs about SLIS Virtual Internships, and read a Community Profile of SLIS Student Anjali Gulati, who completed a virtual internship in Dubai while living in India.

3. Spanish, Chinese, or French Language Courses

How do these languages relate to a LIS degree? Well, if you desire to work in an information center in a country where these languages are spoken, that’s one reason. But the curriculum design for these language courses is in part to prepare information workers for the cross-cultural communication needs that exist in so many countries with large immigrant populations. What’s more, SLIS faculty advisors have catered these courses to reflect the specific language needs of SLIS students so they may better serve a wide range of communities once they are out in the field working. To read more about the language class options, check out this article on the SLIS World Languages courses, which includes links to class syllabi.

4. Other Multi-Culti SLIS Courses

Another way to broaden your cross-cultural LIS experiences is by taking SLIS courses that target multi-cultural issues and/or offer cross-cultural experiences. LIBR 275 (Library Services for Racially and Ethnically Diverse Communities) focuses on developing skills for working with racially, ethnically, and linguistically diverse populations. LIBR 281 (Seminar in Contemporary Issues) offers a range of cross-cultural topics, including courses entitled, “Diversity Issues in Information Environments,” “Information Policy and Cultural Perspectives,” “Intercultural Communication,” and “International and Comparative Librarianship,” in which students develop a collaborative project during the semester with a real international information organization.

5. SLISAlerts here and there…

Occasionally, you’ll receive a SLISAlert in your inbox that presents an opportunity for an international experience. This past Spring, I was more than tempted to investigate a SLISAlert notifying students about an organization called Librarians Without Boarders, which was looking for student volunteers to do some cataloguing, processing, information literacy programming, and teaching English at the Miguel Angel Asturias Academy, in Guatemala. If I didn’t have family and work obligations, I would have jumped at the chance for such a cool resume-enhancing life experience!

Do any of these options for gaining international experience sound exciting to you?  Do you have other ideas to share with your peers regarding how to gain valuable international experience while in grad school?  If so, feel free to post a Comment.