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

Virtual Internships: Fun, Valuable, and Worth Going For!

Lindsey Clarke
Exciting new blog post from guest blogger Kerri MacLaury

It is 2021 now and thank goodness last year is over! As 2020 ended, I completed my coursework at SLIS and I have been reflecting a lot on how positive my experience was at Simmons University. While I enjoyed all the courses in the Leadership and Management track I was on, my absolute favorite course was LIS 512-Advanced Field Experience in LIS and the virtual internship with Boston Public Library’s Teen Central that I got to do through it.

I must admit, I was skeptical of doing a virtual internship. With so much uncertainty in 2020 and so much of everyday life shifting into a new, virtual environment, I had so many questions about what a virtual internship would entail. Would I be able to get a sense of how the library functioned? Would I be able to contribute to the work being done? Would interaction with staff and patrons be possible? Would the experience be as beneficial as I perceived in-person internships to be? After wrestling with these questions, I sought the advice of my advisor and I am so grateful that she encouraged me to go for it!

Doing a virtual internship during a global pandemic was an incredibly valuable experience. It contributed to my professional development and deepened my understanding of librarianship. Each week I met with the other Teen Central intern from SLIS and my internship supervisor, the incomparable Jess Snow, Boston Public Library’s Teen Services Team Leader at the Central branch. The three of us would meet on Zoom or Google Hangouts, giving me exposure to collaborating on and troubleshooting those communication tools. Even virtually, I got to observe how Teen Central worked within the large Boston Public Library system and how staff teamed up on projects. Through observing programs and author talks, I learned new ways that the teen librarians were delivering services during the pandemic. Teen Central’s librarians exhibited incredible creativity as they experimented with live gaming programs streamed over Twitch, expanded their social media reach with entertainingly helpful content on TikTok, and successfully moved their teen volunteer program into the new virtual environment.

What I am most grateful for were all the “real world” experiences I gained through the virtual internship. Through readings, discussions with my supervisor, and observations, I learned how to conduct outreach, build partnerships with community organizations, and deliver library services outside the walls of the library. I also now know how to implement virtual programs, author talk events, and teen volunteer programs thanks to the internship. My supervisor gave me incredibly helpful feedback on my resumé and a cover letter, did a mock interview with me, and helped expand my professional network. The semester-long project I worked on was an evaluation of Teen Central staff members’ progress toward their three-year strategic plan goals. My project entailed interviewing staff members, gathering statistics, and culminated with authoring a report and delivering a Prezi presentation. Undoubtedly, as I begin my job hunt, these are tasks I will do in my future librarian position.

Looking back now, I can answer a resounding “YES!” to all those questions I had about virtual internships. If you are considering pursuing a virtual internship as a part of your studies, you might be hesitant like I was. Like my advisor did for me, I encourage you to go for it! You will get so many new experiences and helpful support out of it. And if you are considering teen librarianship in your future career, I highly recommend connecting with Jess Snow about the Boston Public Library Teen Central opportunity! They have a well-rounded and fun team over there that you learn so much from and will enjoy getting to know. Good luck as you pursue your studies in library and information science and best wishes in this new year!