Internships Make an Impact on Your Coursework, Your Resume and Your Life

Published: Wednesday, June 15, 2016 by Allison Randall Gatt

You’ve heard about what a good idea an internship is, from iSchool Director Dr. Sandra Hirsh to alumna like Kate Dillon but what does an internship entail? How do iSchool students get connected with organizations who are seeking helpful interns?  Every semester, students from SJSU’s School of Information do amazing work for a variety of organizations around the world, both in person and by using technology to do virtual internships.

Doing Real Work for Real Organizations
Current iSchool student Kelly Andrade worked as an intern with the Global Lives Project based in San Francisco, California. Andrade who lives in San Diego, California and will graduate in December 2016, logged in hours as a virtual intern working with a variety of technologies to make the Project’s video clips more accessible.

“Global Lives Project is a non-profit organization that has developed a video library of life experiences from around the world,” says Andrade. “Their mission is to promote global empathy and change how we perceive other cultures, outside of our own, by creating human connections from viewers to people who have had their lives filmed for 24 hours.”

It was Andrade’s job as an intern to develop a standard for metadata, analyze the clips and tag them appropriately. The skills she learned in her MLIS courses, including Info 282 Digital Asset Management, Info 281 Metadata, Info 284 (Photograph Collection Management and Digitization), and Info 246 Information Technology Tools and Applications helped prepare her for real-life tasks at Global Lives. “I used skills learned in my iSchool courses that worked with Archive.org and CONTENTdm to help me navigate through the online software and the metadata pages used by Global Lives to make changes to the online content,” says Andrade.

She also got a chance to make a difference within an organization that is making a difference around the world. “Since the organization is still fairly new,” says Andrade, “I came in while they are still establishing their metadata and workflow needs. I experienced some groundwork of creating metadata needs for digital assets. I was able to contribute ideas on how to improve their metadata and how organizing their metadata would help with workflow. I learned what kind of metadata they needed for their own special library.”

Making Internships Work for You
Internships provide real-world working experience and course credit as well as collaboration between iSchool faculty and the organization providing the experience. Andrade’s virtual internship gave her insight into and a leg-up on the job search.

“I believe job opportunities with special libraries expand the job horizon for librarianship,” says Andrade. “Both my direct supervisor and the Director of Global Lives offered to write me a letter of recommendation and I know having this letter will be very beneficial in helping me land a future job, especial working with digital assets and metadata.”

Students interested in internships (all of y’all, really) should attend or listen to a recording of an orientation session. In addition to the orientation, there are the internship handbooks on the website. MLIS and Post-Master’s students should check out the Info 294 Student Handbook to find out about requirements, eligibility and the enrollment process. MARA students will need to look at the MARA 294 Student Handbook. To check out the internships that are currently available, go to the internship page and use the various filters to match up your preferences and area of interest.

All internships especially the virtual kind, require good communication skills and the ability to self-motivate and manage time well. Andrade’s advice to new students specifically addresses these skills, “You have to figure out how to clearly communicate through email. Many people communicate through email in their library professions and you want to be sure your messages are clear. Since not everyone checks their email frequently, make sure if you do a virtual internship to have your supervisor let you know the best way to contact them if it is urgent and do not always wait for them to contact you.” The Global Lives Project specifically requests a “self-directed and resourceful student.” If you’re a successful iSchool student, then you already fit this description, right? All internships require that students put their best foot forward since this is real-world experience and work representing the SJSU School of Information.

Not only do iSchool students gain valuable skills, put their coursework to the test and brighten their job prospects, but they also gain an experience that can have a personal impact. “One of the best parts about working with Global Lives was traveling around the world from my own home,” says Andrade. “Global Lives’ mission is to show people the diversity and similarities of cultures from around the world and make this human connection by demonstrating that deep down we are all just human beings. It was a very unique experience to intern for Global Lives. I not only gained skills with metadata and digital assets, but I got to be part of a project that is trying to help change the world for better.”

image courtesy of cooldesign
Global Lives Logo courtesy of Global Lives 

Add new comment

* Comments in Plain Text Only