by Ryan Nitz, Head Editor, INALJ Alaska
Soon-to-be grads: have you considered an internship?
One of the most frustrating aspects of being a recent graduate in any field is the how-do-I-get-a-job-without-experience-but-how-do-I-get-experience-without-a-job conundrum. Well, if you’re still in your LIS program (not that it’s impossible to do an internship outside of school, but it’s harder and less common), the good news is you can most likely get both credits toward your degree AND some honest-to-goodness professional library experience with an internship. I can say from the perspectives of both a fairly recent LIS grad and someone working in library administration–it helps.
The best place to start looking is undoubtedly your LIS program. They’re sure to have some good places for you to look for internship opportunities, whether you’re looking locally, regionally, nationally, or even internationally. You’ll also want to make sure you start with your program to ensure that you can get credit toward your degree program for the work that you do. If you’re having a hard time finding something that piques your interest, just start surfing–you’re bound to come across something interesting happening somewhere. Then, you can either try to pursue that interesting thing, or take the idea behind it and try to adapt it to your particular situation. Who says you have to travel to NYC for that music library internship at Juilliard? Maybe you can take the idea and adapt it locally to fit you, working in the music library at your university, or for the local or regional symphony or opera.
Whatever you do as an LIS intern, you can be sure that you’re giving yourself a little leg up in the job market. I know for sure that my internship experience helped me get the job I have now. There is always the option of volunteering your time to gain experience working in the library, but if you do it while you’re still in school and do a little paperwork and planning, you’ll get the experience, be a few credits closer to your degree, and likely have some professional networking contacts that you wouldn’t otherwise have. That’s a pretty decent deal. Kick it around, and feel free to contact me through the INALJ ALaska page if you want to talk more about it.