This past June I went to my first ALA conference seeking inspiration on what to do next. I had just put in my two weeks notice at a paraprofessional library job to focus on which final classes to pursue for my Master’s in Information. In between linked data and zine panels I met up with a classmate, Camille Thomas, who opened my mind to the idea of an internship with FSU’s Office of Digital Research and Scholarship. She spoke positively about her graduate assistantship experience and how I could apply myself in this new field. Right before the semester began, I met the DRS team for the internship interview via Hangouts, since I’m based in central Florida. Apparently Camille also recruited an intern for them the year before, and I’ve since joked that she should consider asking the office for referral bonuses because I signed up right away.
So, I risked leaving a stable full-time job to focus on the remainder of my graduate program and landed an unpaid virtual internship in addition to lining up a couple of part-time jobs. Reflecting on where I am now with where I was then, the decision was absolutely worth it. Coincidentally the office hosted a symposium regarding invisible labor, and the progress I made in the internship has not gone unnoticed. I gained so much valuable knowledge, creative freedom, and transferable skills in just three months alone. Above all I feel honored to be connected with team members who are very passionate about their work – and also, just as importantly, who have a great sense of humor too.
Slack-ing on the job.
Perhaps the most obvious challenge of this internship is the fact that it’s entirely online. My experience of already being a distance-learning student helped immensely, and the internship only continues to improve my time management and project management abilities. I have the flexibility of when to work on tasks comfortably from home and how to arrange the hours around my work schedule. However, I do feel like I’m missing out on meaningful in-person discussions. Thankfully Slack has provided a way to make online interactions more fun than standard emailing, and Trello helps us collaborate on details of assignments. Unexpectedly I became ill for the big symposium event, but thanks to technology, I was still able to participate virtually with online streaming. As I’m about 270 miles away, I definitely intend to visit the office soon.
Throughout the fall semester, I was provided with an introduction to digital scholarship and a variety of new concepts, such as: digital humanities, scholarly communication, open access, linked open data, digital repository, and so on. I’ve primarily completed tasks with exploring various digital tools and offering feedback or ideas on new projects. A few highlight assignments included:
- Text Analysis LibGuide: My very first task was to create a LibGuide on text analysis resources and a short tutorial on how to use Voyant Tools. It was also my very first time using LibGuides, so I reviewed most of Springshare’s resources and experimented with its features. This was a great first assignment because reading other LibGuides on the topic helped me become more familiar with the digital humanities as a whole. I also enjoyed this project because it involved some visual design. Springshare also seemed to like the final product too!
- Digital Research Tools Blog Post: The next major task was writing up a blog post about four digital research tools. This assignment had actually raised awareness of my work ethic as a student. Although I chose the non-thesis option for my program, I almost wish I went with the thesis now being familiar with all the helpful tools to conduct research. The assortment of available tools makes the research process less daunting for sure.
- Scalar with Claude Pepper Papers: After learning Scalar to help annotate the Periodic Table of Digital Research Resources, the office wanted a more robust Scalar prototype using materials from FSU’s Claude Pepper collection. I spent the most time on this project trying to figure out its interface and ultimately determined it’s not very user-friendly. But, despite initial frustrations, I do recognize its potential for research display and interested to see how Scalar approaches future updates, especially in regards to usability.
- Academic Publishing LibGuide: Although the guide was created by Devin Soper and updated by Aaron Retteen, my task was mainly focused on the visual design, particularly with structure. With some rearrangement, FontAwesome integration, and almost zero edits on any existing information, the content-heavy LibGuide is now easier to digest with clear navigation, renamed sections, and cute icons.
Moving forward, I’ve signed up for part two of the internship! For Spring 2017 I’m hoping to focus on project management, user experience, and web development with regards on how to showcase these skills with my upcoming post-graduation job search. Thanks to Camille’s initial guidance and the superb leadership duo that is Micah Vandegrift and Sarah Stanley, I’m totally going to make the most of my final semester.
“Now go forth and enjoy winter break!” says Micah, probably.