Online internships

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Internships that go the distance: A how-to-do-it (and how-not-to-do-it) guide to online internships. Presented at the Fall 2011 MARAC meeting in Bethlehem, PA.

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  • So I’m going to talk about an online internship that I helped design and supervise when I was at the Drexel University Archives. It didn’t go as well as I would have liked, so I also talked to other archivists who have made online internships work.
  • So, before I get into online internships, I want to talk about internships in general, and what counts as an internship
  • Good internships require an initial time investment for planning and an ongoing time commitment from internship supervisors for training and guidance Don’t expect your interns to do the work of professional archivists If you want someone who’s done it before, hire a professional Internships are only free labor if you don’t include the cost of your own time to design the internship and to train and supervise your intern. If your intern doesn’t need any training or supervision, you probably didn’t pick a good project for their internship
  • So, just because you have a student working in your archives, that’s not necessarily an internship. Take, for example, data entry. I’m sure most of us come from repositories with some sort of data entry work waiting to be done. And hey, it could maybe even be done remotely. But students aren’t going to learn anything about archives from doing hours of data entry, even if they’re sitting in an archives while they do it. So, you have a grad student, and you have an archives. What else do you need to make it an internship?
  • Learning! Interns should be able to demonstrate by the end of the internship that they have learned new skills or improved existing skills. Ideally, an internship culminates with a tangible end product, like a finding aid, an exhibit, or a report. These products are all things interns can point to as proof that they’ve learned a new skill.
  • The best internships make interns feel welcome at their host institutions. Invite your interns to social events within your organization. Introduce them to other staff in your organization. And if interns are learning new skills and meeting other archivists AND you provided a good work environment, and they decide after their internships that they don’t want to be archivists anymore—that’s a good thing, and you didn’t do anything wrong.
  • Interns are like puppies. It takes a lot of work to train them and make them feel like they’re part of your family, but if you do it right they’ll love you forever
  • So, I talked about all the things that make a good internship, but incorporating all of them into an online internship is hard. How do you provide a realistic work experience in an online environment? How do you keep track of your intern’s progress and check in with them if you don’t work the same hours? How do you socialize your interns and show them what it’s like to be an archivist if they’re never around other archivists? If your repository can’t handle an on-site intern, you definitely aren’t ready for a remote intern
  • But…online internships have some pretty sweet advantages. Students who don’t live near archives can get experience Students who work during the day can get experience. How many of you come from archives that are open outside typical 9-5 hours? More than 10 hours a week? With a professional archivist on site? Yeah, that’s what I thought. Digital projects are great for sharing with prospective employers, And some archives tasks—SOME--work just as well online
  • So, here’s how our online internship experiment went
  • This is Megan. She’s now a project archivist for the Institute on Disabilities at Temple University. And this is her cat Grrr! We met over Skype once a week, when either my boss or I were available, and that worked out pretty well.
  • Megan’s internship had two components. She would develop a metadata policy for archived websites and create metadata for some of those sites, and provide metadata for a collection of digitized photographs. I want to point that both of these were projects that fell within my job responsibilities, but my boss and I split them because I was a paraprofessional and couldn’t officially supervise an intern. Let me remind you that it’s a bad idea to have interns working on tasks that you don’t already have professional archivists working on. And just as you shouldn’t have interns doing the work of professional archivists, you also shouldn’t have paraprofessionals doing the work of professional archivists.
  • Archive-It is a subscription service from the Internet Archive for archiving websites. I don’t want to get too into the details of it, but please stay afterwards and talk to me if you want to know more about the service. Archive-It handles the technology side of web archiving. You decide which sites you want captured, when to capture them, and how you want to describe them. And, the interface is totally web-based
  • Here’s the interface for adding information about a website in Archive-It, as well as an example of an archived website. Interns can see the captured versions of pages while they describe them.
  • So, on to part 2 of the internship. Hey, wait a minute, Archivists’ Toolkit isn’t a DAMS! Yeah, we were supposed to be trialing ContentDM by the time Megan finished with her Archive-It project, but my boss forgot about it, and he decided to do the project anyway. What we had instead was AT for collection information and Google Picasa to index our photos.
  • So here’s how the metadata internship worked: Megan received a ZIP file of photos and the EAD finding aid for the collection those photos were in. She also searched our online finding aids and other online sources for information about the photos, since she couldn’t physically come to the archives. She then edited the EAD file in a text editor and sent it back to us, and then we uploaded it into AT. Except we also use AT to track scanning, and Megan’s collection had been scanned from since we sent her the EAD file, so we couldn’t just replace the resource record in AT with her file. As far as I know, her metadata hasn’t yet been added into the resource record. So this method was confusing, complex, and totally not how metadata is created in the real world.
  • (read slide)
  • Dickinson State is in North Dakota, where library students are hard to find. They had a great digital library system and a large number of digitized documents—pretty much ideal for online internships. Interns described documents and wrote blog posts about the documents. The digital library isn’t live yet, but you can check out the blog posts from summer2011. The internship supervisor managed her interns using a Basecamp site with message boards, file sharing and “writeboards” where interns could discuss controlled vocabulary terms and make sure they were being consistent. She also held virtual “office hours” in Skype. Oh, and they pay their interns. Remote work is not a good excuse for not paying your interns
  • Here are screenshots of the metadata entry screen and an example document. Not all that different from how you might describe a document if you were sitting in the archives.
  • How do you know if an internship worked? Ask your intern. So these are quotes from reports by 2 students at San Jose State University’s School of Library and Information Science who did the same online archives internship: same supervisor, same project, same time period. As you can see, they had very different experiences!
  • Most of these apply to regular internships too. Interns are people too: they have lives outside of work. It’s easy to forget that when you never see your interns.
  • Make sure you have time! Even if you’re working online, it’s still a “real” internship
  • Check in on them regularly, make sure they have what they need, and they’ll love you just like a real-life intern.
  • Online internships

    1. 1. Internships that go the distance: A how-to-do-it (and how-not-to-do-it) guide to online internships Rebecca Goldman Connelly Library, La Salle University (formerly of the Drexel University Archives) October 22, 2011 Photo credit: Sideonecincy http://www.flickr.com/photos/sideonecincy/5882191626
    2. 2. Let’s get some things straight… “ Angry cat” by CiCCio.it http://www.flickr.com/photos/ciccioit/221427543 INTERNSHIPS UR DOIN IT WRONG
    3. 3. Internships are NOT free labor <ul><li>Good internships require an initial time investment for planning and an ongoing time commitment from internship supervisors for training and guidance </li></ul><ul><li>Don’t expect your interns to do the work of professional archivists </li></ul><ul><li>If you want someone who’s done it before, </li></ul><ul><li>hire a professional </li></ul>
    4. 4. Student + archives = internship? <ul><li>Just because a grad student is doing the work, </li></ul><ul><li>Just because the work is happening in an archives, </li></ul><ul><li>Just because your archives really needs that work done, </li></ul><ul><li>… doesn’t make it an internship. </li></ul>
    5. 5. Student + archives + learning = internship! <ul><li>Interns should be able to demonstrate by the end of the internship that they have learned new skills or improved existing skills </li></ul><ul><li>Ideally, an internship culminates with a tangible end product, like a finding aid, an exhibit, or a report </li></ul>
    6. 6. Internships are about more than official responsibilities <ul><li>Interns should feel like valued members of your staff </li></ul><ul><li>Interns should get a sense of what life is like for archivists </li></ul><ul><li>Sometimes internships make students realize they don’t want to be archivists anymore—and that’s okay! </li></ul>
    7. 7. Interns are like puppies Photo credits: @craudma, @jenlrile, and @reality4check
    8. 8. Incorporating all of these things into an online internship is HARD <ul><li>How do you provide a realistic work experience in an online environment? </li></ul><ul><li>How do you keep track of your intern’s progress and check in with them if you don’t work the same hours? </li></ul><ul><li>How do you socialize your interns and show them what it’s like to be an archivist if they’re never around other archivists? </li></ul><ul><li>If your repository can’t handle an on-site intern, you definitely aren’t ready for a remote intern </li></ul>
    9. 9. But…online internships have some pretty sweet advantages <ul><li>Students who don’t live near archives can get experience </li></ul><ul><li>Students who work during the day can get experience </li></ul><ul><li>Digital projects are great for sharing with prospective employers </li></ul><ul><li>Some archives tasks work just as well online </li></ul>
    10. 10. An experiment “ Breaking Out of the Facility” by Shuttermoth http://www.flickr.com/photos/shuttermoth/100644472
    11. 11. Our subject Screenshot by Megan Atkinson, with a guest appearance by Grrr!.
    12. 12. Internship components <ul><li>Develop a metadata policy for archived websites and create metadata for some of those sites </li></ul><ul><li>Provide metadata for a collection of digitized photographs </li></ul>
    13. 13. Archive-It <ul><li>Subscription service from the Internet Archive for archiving websites </li></ul><ul><li>Decide which sites you want captured, when to capture them, and how you want to describe them </li></ul><ul><li>Totally web-based </li></ul>
    14. 14. Describing websites in Archive-It
    15. 15. Does Archive-It work well for an online internship? <ul><li>Yes! It’s </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Naturalistic: the same work an intern would do if she were on site </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Flexible: the intern can create metadata anytime, and the archivist can review it anytime </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Shareable: the intern can share links to archived websites with metadata that she created </li></ul></ul>
    16. 16. Our “digital asset management system”
    17. 17. Don’t try this at home
    18. 18. Metadata for digital images could be a good internship if… <ul><li>You have a web-based system for storing images and creating metadata, and you already know how to use it </li></ul><ul><li>The images don’t require inside knowledge of your institution </li></ul>
    19. 19. How Dickinson State’s Theodore Roosevelt Center made it work <ul><li>Task: catalog documents in a digital library and write blog posts about the documents </li></ul><ul><ul><li>The digital library isn’t live yet, but check out the blog posts from summer 2011 at http:// www.blogtrc.org </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Basecamp site with message boards, file sharing and “writeboards” for sharing controlled vocabulary terms </li></ul><ul><li>Virtual “office hours” in Skype </li></ul><ul><li>They pay their interns </li></ul>
    20. 20. Remote metadata creation that works Images from Krystal Thomas, Theodore Roosevelt Center
    21. 21. One internship, two perspectives Happy intern  Unhappy intern  “ I would characterize this experience as being very independently driven. This is something I am fine with…” “ While I would have appreciated a more thorough orientation for my internship, I have not had any major problems with it.” “ I am satisfied with the work I’m doing. I feel like I am contributing to [Archives], and also gaining skills that are critical to my future archives career.” “ The instruction [Archivist] mentioned in an initial email never came, and I was quite unclear what my internship entails until recently.” “ Common sense would dictate that you would give the interns an overview of what they were doing… I am always ‘on my own’ and feel like a slave.” “ Overall this is the worst internship I have been a part of - I'm not sure if it even qualifies as an internship since…the only educational experience I am receiving is from my own self-study.”
    22. 22. General advice for online supervisors <ul><li>Be clear about goals and expectations </li></ul><ul><li>Have multiple channels of communication </li></ul><ul><li>Be familiar with your intern’s grad school program </li></ul><ul><li>Allow time for training </li></ul><ul><li>Check in with your interns regularly </li></ul><ul><li>Remember that interns are people too </li></ul>
    23. 23. General advice for online interns <ul><li>Make sure you have time! </li></ul><ul><li>Make sure you manage your time well </li></ul><ul><li>Know your work habits and what you need to succeed </li></ul><ul><li>Don’t be afraid to ask for things </li></ul><ul><li>You can’t get all the archives experience you need from online internships </li></ul>
    24. 24. Online interns are like digital puppies Photo credit: jdruschke http://www.flickr.com/photos/jilldruschke/2232374988
    25. 25. Further reading <ul><li>“ Online Archives Internship”: Megan’s (heavily edited) article in Archival Outlook May/June 2011 </li></ul><ul><li>Archival Internships: A Guide for Faculty, Supervisors, and Students by Jeannette Bastian and Donna Webber </li></ul><ul><li>SJSU internship guide: http://slisweb.sjsu.edu/classes/294/ </li></ul><ul><li>libr294guide.htm </li></ul>
    26. 26. Thank you! <ul><li>Megan Atkinson, for being an awesome online intern </li></ul><ul><li>Lori Lindberg of SJSU SLIS , for sharing internship advice and (anonymized!) internship reports </li></ul><ul><li>Krystal Thomas of the Theodore Roosevelt Center , who supervised 22(!) online interns this summer, for sharing info and screenshots from the TRC’s online internship project </li></ul>
    27. 27. Contact me <ul><li>Rebecca Goldman </li></ul><ul><li>[email_address] </li></ul><ul><li>215-951-1965 </li></ul><ul><li>This presentation is available from http:// www.slideshare.net/rebgold </li></ul>Photo: State Library and Archives of Florida http://www.flickr.com/photos/floridamemory/3251651362

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