MS/LIS student Brianna Collins discusses her internship with the Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System.
What is your area of interest at the iSchool?
While I didn't set out with an intended plan when I began at the iSchool, my focus has really shifted in the direction of knowledge and information organization. I'm interested in the concepts and standards of how we organize, preserve, and facilitate access to our institutional assets, both physical and digital.
Where did you work last summer, and what was your role?
I was an intern in the research library at the Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System, which is preparing for a large-scale move in early 2021. I was brought in to evaluate the various collections that comprise the library's print and digital offerings, make suggestions for improvement and efficiency based on my evaluations, take inventory of the collection items, and work with the reference and data teams to ensure that the overall collection is useful to users in light of the move. One of my most important roles was to consider ways in which the collection would remain relevant in both content and accessibility.
How did you find out about the position?
I came across the position while perusing USAjobs.gov and thought I would be a good fit, considering my earlier roles in collection management support in public libraries.
What new skills did you acquire during your time with the organization?
My attention to detail has been sharpened to a lethal point! I've become much more comfortable with cataloging and metadata standards and procedures, data mining and cleaning, professional collection management practices . . . the list really does go on. Other than the practical and technical, some of the more valuable skills I've learned involve how to perform in a highly professional environment that deals with highly confidential material. I was empowered, encouraged, and trusted to make decisions based on my existing knowledge and gained a lot of confidence through the experience of that support.
What did you like best about working at the organization?
I was so pleasantly surprised by The Board's dedication to diversity and inclusion, which was made evident by the types of research that are being conducted and the rate at which such research findings are being published by Board economists. I certainly didn't expect as much work being done in those areas as there is—not just in terms of making the Board a more diverse and inclusive work environment but in terms of efforts which potentially have a major effect in the area of economics in the country. The Board really values their employees, encourages growth and innovation, and is very supportive of staff members' personal development efforts. The whole organization maintains a "let's try this!" attitude, and each division is incredibly supportive of the others' efforts to go bigger. It was great to be as likely to see the Chairman perusing the periodicals as you are to see a research assistant looking up statistics.
What would you advise current students who are interested in an internship opportunity?
I think it's really important to remember that your passion and interest drive your success in an internship position—not your existing functional knowledge. Internships are an opportunity to learn, and those who offer them do so in order to provide practical experience, understanding that a candidate is not necessarily experienced. If you see a position that you're interested in, go for it. Write a cover letter that demonstrates your interest and excitement. Once you've obtained your position, consider what YOU want to get out of it and not just what an organization is going to get out of you, make your goals known, and find someone within the organization who can help you obtain those goals and mentor you while you are a part of the organization.
What are your plans after you complete your degree?
I'm happy to say that my internship has turned into a contract position. I'm still employed with the Board and hope to see the project on which I've been working through to the end, when the library has finally moved into its new space in 2021.