Today was the first time since orientation that I got to see (most of) the other interns again. It was really refreshing to catch up, but it definitely had me wishing I could quit my day job and join in on the early afternoon training they’ve all been attending together. It’s fun to think about being on such different journeys in the same place, at the same time, like we’re all somehow living different parallel realities. The reflection was a great way to hear more about how the other interns’ departments function on a daily basis: what does their day-to-day schedule look like; what projects are they working on; what are their priorities? I really appreciate the opportunity to stay connected with the program as a whole rather than retreating into my own singular experience.
During the reflection Richard asked us a handful of questions that, at first glance, sounded simple enough, but ended up facilitating much larger discussions. What were we learning? Did we feel welcomed by and integrated into the staff? What do we like about the internship and what have been some of the challenges? What is the relationship between the classroom and practice? And how has the internship shaped our aspirations?
Right off the bat we all unanimously agreed that a full school year was necessary for this program. Even knowing we still have three months left of the first semester, everyone, supervisors included, felt we needed to move at a break-neck speed to fit all our training in. But this isn’t necessarily a rushed feeling, more so we feel excited about the endless possibilities for learning and gaining experience. I’m going to go out on a limb and say we all feel this is a unique position to be in, one none of us want to waste.
Beyond that, an answer that resonated with my own experience so far concerned thoughtful tasks versus busy work. The common expectation for interns in a lot of non-library settings is that they’re there to do the mindless tasks paid employees can’t be bothered to do. In contrast, the internship at Skokie Public Library has been incredibly deliberate and thoughtful. We all agreed we felt our tasks were being assigned in order to help us learn and grow and that we aren’t seen as menial task robots; we’re interns with a purpose.
Along with feeling valued as students through our assigned work, I personally feel validation in knowing more and more that I’m on the correct career path. I talked about it a little during our reflection, but the connection I was hoping to see from classroom to practice was the application of values. Every day I work here I feel more and more confident that the values we all learned in class are being applied in a practical, meaningful way in practice. Knowing that has me feeling incredibly hopeful about my own future working in similar departments and I can’t wait to see what other experiences this internship has in store for me.