Our company has been fortunate to have hosted many SIS practicum students over the years. At the local level, we see a practicum as a learning/working experience and it is also a kind of “long term interview.”
When a position opens in IIa, both the company and the student know whether we will have a good match. In the broader context, the bottom line is that when we hire, we now often look for practical, hands-on experience like that provided by the SIS Practicum Program.
Information International Associates (IIa)
Oak Ridge, TN
For my Practicum, I worked at the Smithsonian’s National Postal Museum. I worked with a team at the Collections Management Department to conceive, develop, and create the museum’s new online collections research database called Arago™. An innovative component of this new database, the Research Participant Program, invited volunteers to research and compose descriptive text for the online collection’s objects.
As the Arago Project Assistant, I organized the Research Participant Program. The most interesting aspects of this project were enrolling the museum volunteers, developing orientation and procedural documents, corresponding with researchers—both national and international—editing research text, and preparing the text for publication.
I worked closely with my supervisor and peers and was encouraged to make meaningful contributions to the project. I was comfortable with—and really enjoyed—collaborating with a team, thanks in part to the collaborative projects I undertook in my coursework at the School of Information Sciences. My confidence increased with experience, and this experience has significantly clarified and advanced my career goals.
I recently accepted a job at the National Geographic Library and Information Services as Senior Analyst!
Lisa M. Metzer (SIS 2006)
Arago™ Project Assistant
Collections Management Department
National Postal Museum
For my practicum experience, I worked in the reference department of the Lawson McGhee Library in Knoxville under the supervision of Janet Drumheller (SIS 1977).
It was a great experience for me, and I learned that I was cut out to be a librarian. I was treated like a professional, worked the desk as a reference librarian answering a broad range of questions, dealt with all walks of life in the main library, worked on collection development and weeding projects, and taught computer instruction classes.
Most importantly, I looked forward to going to work every day and had a wonderful time with the people I worked with. My practicum made me more confident in my ability to be a good librarian than any other experience I had during graduate school. When I went out looking for my first professional position, I had no worries as to whether I would be able to do well in a library environment.
Sarah Wright (SIS 2005)
Lawson McGhee Library
My practicum experience gave me a competitive advantage when applying for my present position at Blount County Public Library – even though my practicum was at UT’s Preston Medical Library.
Even though I knew I wanted to become a public librarian, working in a medical library allowed me to learn so much about libraries in general. I become immersed in consumer health reference, which is invaluable knowledge for a reference librarian, and I gained valuable experience with scholarly research on PubMed and in finding research articles for interlibrary loan patrons via Docline and ARIAL.
Teaching computer classes gave me more confidence in creating and implementing my own training sessions at Blount County Public Library. I have to say also that the working conditions were a great benefit, particularly in working with veteran librarians Doris Pritchard (SIS 1971) and Martha Earl (SIS 1985), both of whom had walked in my shoes as a SIS student and have taken leadership roles in the state.
Pat Thompson (SIS 2001)
Consumer Health Reference
Preston Medical Library
President, Tennessee Library Association, 2006-2007