It’s time for another round of student interviews about internships! If you missed the summer internship interviews you can check them out here. Each week in the month of November we will publish a new Student Q & A. To kick off the fall interviews, we have Jennifer Raye, a second year MSIS student studying law librarianship with the Communication, Information and Cultural Policy portfolio program.
Where is your internship and what do you do?
I currently work for the Travis County Law Library and Self-Help Center. The library is designed to help Travis County residents with their pro se legal cases. Our services are mostly directed for people representing themselves in their own divorces, custody, name changes, and family law matters. We have reference materials for practicing attorneys, but we mainly assist the general public with their legal matters.
What drew you to this internship?
I took Legal Information Resources at the iSchool and was exposed to the various reference materials attorneys use in their practice. I find the law fascinating and wanted to be a part of it at the librarianship level.
What have you enjoyed most about your internship?
The exposure to legal issues and helping citizens with the most need achieve answers to their legal questions. Most of our patrons are people trying to solve their legal issues on their own because they cannot afford the cost of hiring an attorney. While our skills as librarians and reference attorneys are limited to “agreed” matters, we are able to connect these patrons to affordable legal resources.
What have you learned from your internship?
The law. Trying to solve a legal problem can be very complicated and expensive. By explaining the process for divorce, for example, to a patron, you need to understand the process.
PATIENCE! When explaining any legal process, patrons will have more questions, need things repeated, and need them repeated again.
What skills, knowledge or experience did you develop in a class that you have used at this internship?
My Legal Information Resource class exposed me to the resources used to find legal information, like case law, statutes, and court reports out of “hard copy” materials. Having this basic knowledge has helped when working with patrons who do not want to use the computer.
How did you find this internship position? What resources did you use?
They actually contacted me and asked me to interview. I had my resume posted on the iSchool Careers website and they found my resume. In the past, I’ve often gone to a department/company I’ve wanted to work with and given them my resume and information directly.
When did you begin searching for an internship and how long did it take to find this position?
- When I interned for the Chemical Engineering department doing records management, I knew my internship would end at the end of the semester. So about two months before the end of the semester, I went directly to the Tarlton Law Library (I wanted an internship in an academic law library) and asked to speak with the director and give them my resume. A week later, they called for an interview. I made sure I had enough time to keep looking if that had not worked out.
Is there a class that you’d recommend to students interested in developing the skills needed to work in a similar internship/position?
Definitely Legal Information Resources and any volunteer opportunities for working with the public.
What advice would you give other students searching for an internship or work opportunity?
Don’t be afraid to just go to a department/company and give them your resume. Ask for a supervisor and just explain what kind of internship you want to do and how they can benefit from you. Look at the iSchool careers website, they often post internships/capstone possibilities. See if someone from one department can recommend another. I was doing a records management internship for Chemical Engineering and then took those skills to another department. Usually if it’s a general issue, more than one department will need help.
Thanks for the advice, Jennifer!