The San José State University (SJSU) School of Information has many aspects which set it apart from other online programs. In fact, they are one of the few iSchools to have a dedicated career consultant (such as the iSchool’s Jill Klees). But what is perhaps most impressive is the vast internship database available to all enrolled students who have completed 19 units in the program. There are over a hundred internship possibilities and if none fit the professional development needs of a student seeking an internship, there is an option for students to to create their own internship experience. These internship opportunities expand the student learning experience at the iSchool by taking the skills gleaned in classes and putting them to the test in the real world.
Wisdom from an iSchool Alumna
Bianca Randall began her MLIS program January 2017 and graduated in May 2018. She currently works as a librarian at Notre Dame de Namur University, and completed an internship at Mission College during her time in the program.
In reflecting on her internship, Randall shared, “The skills I learned at this internship allowed me to become hired as an adult services librarian at a public library immediately after my time at Mission College ended. Also, going forward in my classes, I felt like everything I studied had much more meaning to me personally, because I had seen the effects of library work up close.”
Randall did not follow a specific pathway while working on her MLIS degree because she was not sure what type of librarianship she wanted to do; instead, she intentionally chose general courses. She also shared that she “attended a virtual coffee chat with Dr. Sandra Hirsh, [who] strongly recommended all students complete an internship. And since Hirsh is the information school director, thought it best to listen to her advice!”
Randall had an incredibly positive experience: “The internship at Mission College was the perfect learning experience for an early-career librarian. I was very carefully monitored and tutored in basic librarianship duties. It was my first practical experience in reference work, collection development, applying for grants, giving class instruction, collaborating with faculty, using LibGuides and engaging in outreach. Without a doubt, my internship at Mission College was one of the most important learning experiences of my college career!”
When queried about her internship search and selection process, Randall shared, “It wasn’t too difficult. Since all my classes were already online, I was eager to complete an in-person internship rather than a virtual one, for the sake of variety. I browsed through the list of available internships posted by SJSU, and Mission College Library was the closest one to me. Applying for the internship was just like applying for a job. I applied in spring 2017 for a fall 2018 position. During the interview at Mission College, I remember feeling like the interviewers expected me to know more about library work than I already did. I felt rather insecure due to my lack of experience. But luckily, I was accepted with the condition that I would take specific classes over the summer to prepare me for work in the fall.”
Unique Features of the Internship Database
The connections to real-life professional experiences the iSchool has built and curated are an invaluable asset to those who decide to enroll in the program. Applying for and completing an internship expands learning opportunities and also offers professional references which are useful in the job search after graduation.
Internships are an incredible opportunity for iSchool students to put their skills gleaned in the program into practice, and pick up new skills along the way. It can be difficult for students to find these professional opportunities on their own, so having access to this database is a great way to identify opportunities. The opportunity to expand their learning experience at the School of Information is invaluable.
This service offered by the iSchool is unique in the way it’s sourced. According to Associate Director Linda Main, “The updates are all done directly by the internship sites. They access it directly and update their entries if they decide to continue offering internships.” How exciting to know that these internship sites in particular are looking specifically for students at the iSchool!
Available Internship Fast Facts
Currently, there are 197 internships listed on the database. These internships can be filtered in many ways, including the type of work, on site or virtual, or by semester. Of the 197 listed, 18 of them are virtual; the rest are on-site. Even though SJSU is in California, the iSchool provides access to internships all over the United States and Canada! So no matter where students are studying, there is a chance an internship opportunity is close by, or available virtually.
Internships by Location:
Of the 197 listed, there are 70 internships for academic libraries, 60 for public libraries, 20 for archival organizations, 18 for special libraries, nine for government agencies, five are in a corporate setting, one is a K — 12 school and 14 are listed in the “other” category. Plus, 34 of these internships are paid! Here are just some examples of internship opportunities for iSchool students:
- The youth services intern at Alameda County Dublin Library in Dublin, CA assists with youth programs, inputs data and checks shelves for correct arrangement of books.
- The academy film archive intern at the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences Academy Film Archive in Los Angeles, CA identifies relevant filmmakers and content within underrepresented communities and compiles findings within the Academy’s collection management system.
- The museum intern at the Busy Beaver Button Museum in Chicago, IL develops and maintains the museum’s digital archives, performs historical research and also helps out with social media outreach exemplifies the diverse skill set expected of a special librarian.
- The digital library intern at the Digital Theological Library, which is an online internship, would be responsible for resource management and collection development, and helping serve the library’s over 10,000 patron community. This particular opportunity is advantageous for a student with a busy schedule because the work can be completed anywhere with an internet connection.
The process of applying for an internship is a unique learning opportunity. Students who elect to do so write their own Learning Outcomes, which is a skill necessary in many professional information positions. Even before the internship begins, students are already learning something new!
The incredible amount of internships available to those who decide to enroll at the SJSU School of Information and the connections those internships afford open up a world of opportunities. Students who elect to complete an internship will have not only hands-on experience and expanded learning, but also professional references which are invaluable during the job search after graduation. Randall echoes this: “The staff at Mission College Library were some of the best people I have ever worked with. They encouraged me to do well through their practical advice and emotional support. I am very grateful that I was mentored by these good people so early in my career, and I especially encourage future iSchool students to give this internship site a chance!”
To learn more about the SJSU iSchool, visit https://ischool.sjsu.edu/.