Get out of your head (but plan early) to make the most out of internship opportunities.


My office.

This year has gone by fast. There’s so much more that I want to learn in school and I’m not sure I have the room to do it. My program puts a cap on the number of units a student can take, and in one year (21 units, give or take) I will be done.

My advice to new LIS students: start searching for internships during your first semester. If you’re on the fast track to graduation, you have no time to be scared. Search postings on your school’s internship listing website and start making inquiries. You can even submit application materials early, indicating that you’re eligible to intern after the following semester (for example). This shows initiative. If something looks interesting or exciting, apply, even if you aren’t sure it fits into your career plans. This past February (wayyy after I should have started searching), I saw an internship listing on my school’s website for a library at a botanic garden. I was so excited about it that I immediately applied, regardless of start date and eligibility (technically, my eligibility began this summer after taking 6 units of electives this past spring). I interviewed the following week, and landed myself a pretty nice, flexible internship (though records indicate that I’m a volunteer since I don’t get paid and I’m not getting school credit). I have learned more than I ever thought I would, I worked with Kiyomi who turned out to be a wellspring of great advice, and I’ve been there ever since. The commute is an hour each way, but I love it there. Your commute is another thing to consider: if you’re getting school credit, you are paying to do an internship (duh). But if you are not getting school credit, and you can handle long commutes (another thing I inherited from my parents who commute at least an hour each way to their jobs), you might consider taking that cooler internship in a not-so-local location than the boring internship in the next town over. It costs gas/public transit money, but it’s probably cheaper than a 3 unit class.

I should extend this advice to all LIS students. Begin your internship search far in advance of the semester during which you wish to intern. I say this because I am currently in a huge pickle. I found a great internship for which I must apply and interview. If I get the position, my potential supervisor and I have to submit a separate application to my school, then I have to register for LIBR 294 (Professional Experience). All of this has to be done before registration closes on August 15. I don’t have high hopes for my situation.

Why didn’t I start looking earlier? Hell if I know. I thought I had my bases covered in terms of library experience for the upcoming semester. But then it dawned on me how little time I have left in my program, and now I have an insatiable drive to beef up my resume.

Don’t do this to yourself. When in doubt, apply, apply, apply, even if you don’t think you can handle an internship in your schedule. In some cases, the hours are negotiable. The world is an unstable place. Prepare. Follow your heart, but remember to plan ahead.

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