Student Snippets A Window Into The Daily Life & Thoughts of SLIS Students

Learning Outside the Classroom

This summer has been hot, rainy, and is going by fast.  And did I mention busy?  Yeah, it’s been busy.  This summer, as I’ve mentioned in a few previous blog posts, I’m doing a records management internship for Biogen Idec, a biopharmaceutical company located in Kendall Square in Cambridge.  And I can already say, just because I’m not taking official classes this summer does not mean the learning has stopped…

I find myself every now and again marveling at how I ended up here.  When I initially applied to library school, I never thought I would have the opportunity to work in a place like Biogen.  It’s one of the aspects that we don’t cover too much on the archives track -archives includes records management, and records management isn’t just for city planning or traditional libraries.  Corporations (especially since the Enron debacle) have been tightening the leash on records management.  And in this case, more regulations just so happens to equal more jobs. 

Two of my lovely new co-workers are actually Simmons alumni, which not only make conversations fun (did you take Candy’s course?!), but also gives my co-workers a sense of the angle I am approaching records management as a whole from.  I do think a lot has changed, however; one of my co-workers mentioned that when she did a presentation on being interested in industry, the general consensus was that she was “selling out.” 

To be honest, “selling out” was something I grappled with when I started.  I was in library school for the science of it all, not to make obscene amounts of money and be working for “the man.”  But after I got a few paychecks, and once I had gotten past the preliminary “here’s your login, here’s your password, here’s your email, read these best practice guidelines” and actually started working with the material, I realized that working for industry – at least in my limited experience – is just as valid as working anywhere else.  My particular industry is highly regulated, as audits can occur at any time from the FDA.  Making sure our records are kept just as detailed and accurate as they need to be ensures that in the case of an FDA (or MHRA in the UK) inspection, the particular drug being inspected will continue to pass and can stay on the market – which, in Biogen’s case, ensures that millions of Multiple Sclerosis sufferers can continue to receive their medication. 

I am only about halfway through my internship, and am sure I will have different or stronger opinions when all is said and done.  However, what I can say, is that I am glad this opportunity was presented to me to learn about all of the other applications of this degree outside from the traditional library – and I will definitely take advantage of that knowledge.