Monday, April 9, 2012

Finding a summer internship

Doing an internship over the summer is theoretically a great way to gain experience in librarianship, but realistically can be difficult to obtain. Competition is fierce, and paid positions are often far and few between. As summer quickly approaches, here is a compilation of resources and tips on how to get a valuable  summer internship experience.

There are two different kinds of internships that you should explore: paid, and unpaid. If you are able to do an unpaid internship, then you have a great deal more flexibility. If you need to do a paid internship, there are a number of resources available for you to use.

Paid internships: One place that updates its internship list constantly is Drexel's iSchool Career website. While not all the positions listed on the page are paid, many of them are. Another benefit to this website is that some of these internships are open only to, or first to, Drexel students.

Hagerty Library's website also provides career resources for library science students. There are two different guides that are useful: the first one is the Library Science guide, which lists job search resources, blogs, and salary information (among other things). The websites included on this page are some of the major job resource websites in library science, and oftentimes the search function can be restricted to internship positions rather than professional positions. The other useful guide that Hagerty Library posts is the Internship and Co-op Search guide. This guide lists internship resource websites and print directories, along with some useful books. While these websites are internship-specific, the search results returned for library science are often non-traditional or seemingly irrelevant. However, if you are interested in exploring different areas of librarianship and information science, these websites are a great place to start your search.

Outside of Drexel's resources, there are a number of comprehensive library and information science job websites which update daily or weekly. These websites tend to list more progressional jobs than internships, but internships are often included when they are available (they also tend to be paid, when they are listed). Some of the major resources to check are: I Need a Library Job, ArchivesGig, and ALA JobList.

Unpaid internships: If you are looking for an unpaid internship, you have a little more breathing room. First, do some research and decide on a handful or organizations or institutions that you would like to work at. Then, start contacting people within the organizations that you think might be valuable resources; this could be someone whose job you could see yourself doing eventually or a hiring manager or director. One great way to get in to meet people is to call or email and ask to do an informational interview, where you go in and ask questions to learn more about the institution. Then, at the end (or afterwards, when you write your thank you note) ask if there are any volunteer opportunities available. That way, you have had some interaction with the people who work there, and they can put a face with your name.

Unpaid internships are a great way for MLIS students to explore areas of librarianship that you could see yourself working in one day, without having to fit into an existing program. It provides more flexibility for you to create your own program or project, which is more valuable in the long run. Also, having volunteer experience looks great on resumes and can help you land a competitive, paid internship later on.

Two related resources that can help you get an internship: 

Before applying to internships, take a look at these two blogs: Hiring Librarians and Open Cover Letters.

The first blog, Hiring Librarians, is a series of interviews with hiring managers or library directors and what they are looking for in job candidates. There is a lot of valuable advice, and a job search resource page was just posted a few days ago.

 The second blog, Open Cover Letters, is a compilation of cover letters written by people who got the job they applied for. The examples posted are a fantastic resource for when you are feeling stuck on wording or how to explain a relevant experience.

Internships of any kind of a grab way to build your resume with related library experience. If you have any other internship resources that you would like to share with us, please comment them below!

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