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Oregon State Library: Buzzy Nielsen

As a dual degree student with the Ford School of Public Policy, my internship process began early in October. Ford School students are required to complete a summer internship to satisfy the program requirements. Thus, my challenge became to find an internship that blended my dual degree interests in library science and public/nonprofit management.

I began by meeting with Joanna Kroll at SI and Tiffany Wallace at the Ford School. They gave me some valuable advice on how to proceed with my search, including what proved most beneficial for me: use my own contacts.

Needing a combination of libraries and public policy, my first thought was the Congressional Research Service at the Library of Congress. They accept interns to help provide reference and research help to Congress. I emailed the internship coordinator, checking back with her several times. Unfortunately, CRS was not accepting interns this year due to a restructuring.

CRS got me interested in serving as a reference library intern in a policy environment. I looked into other internships at NPR, CNN, the Christian Science Monitor, and the Environmental Protection Agency libraries. I applied to NPR and CSM. The idea of working at NPR particularly excited me, and I put a lot of time and thought into writing my cover letter to make myself sound interesting. Alas, it was all for naught.

While disappointing, this rejection spurred me in March to take Joanna and Tiffany's advice. As it so happens, I know the Library Development Program Manager at the Oregon State Library. I emailed her to see if they had a place for a motivated library grad student, and they did! Although OSL does not have a formal internship program, they worked with me to design an interesting and useful internship for both of us. This summer, I will be researching Oregon library law since its beginnings in 1901. The result will be a digital archive of current and historical laws and policies affecting Oregon public libraries.

In closing, I must reiterate Joanna and Tiffany's advice: use your own contacts to find internships. Even if your contact's organization doesn't need an intern, they might know somebody who does. Plus, cold-calling may give you an opportunity to shape your future internship and make it very relevant to your goals. You never know what could happen!

If you have any questions, please don't hesitate to email me.

Posted by menielse at April 12, 2006 08:18 PM

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