In the digital age one can obtain a college degree, work, and yes even do an internship from home. Many professional, economic, and lifestyle options exist today that were unimaginable a decade ago. Indeed, long distance collaboration, both synchronous and asynchronous, is becoming an increasingly commonplace feature of work and learning.
A HAPI internship can be completed remotely and designed with considerable flexibility. I chose to do mine over the Fall 2012 semester so that I could obtain 3 credit hours toward my MSLS degree at the University of Kentucky. The professional knowledge I gained was invaluable, and the compensation I earned paid for the college credit and then some.
The purpose of my internship was to help HAPI director, Orchid Mazurkiewicz, evaluate the quality of the journals indexed by HAPI and help her devise more objective criteria for selecting and deselecting titles. A bibliometric analysis was undertaken to explore how HAPI’s content “measured up” in the universe of Latin American serials, its content representing about 3% of known Latin American titles. This task was a tall order. It involved considerable fact finding that taught us about the strengths and weaknesses of various Latin American databases (Latindex, BIBLAT, SciELO, Redalyc, and SCImago). We also discovered the strengths and weaknesses, uses and misuses, of different bibliometric measures (impact factors, use measures, etc.). In addition, we got a good sense of the challenges involved in soliciting qualitative information from the SALALM membership. In the end, we learned important things about HAPI, about the global imbalance of scholarly literature, and about judging the worth of journals. In essence, we laid the groundwork for developing a systematic approach to improving and ensuring the intellectual caliber of HAPI’s indexed content.
Elements that contributed to the success of the project were: (1) weekly Skype meetings with Orchid, (2) coordination of all project tasks using a project management software, BaseCamp, that was accessed online with a password, (3) open source software for designing surveys, (4) my past experience with database design, data analysis, and statistics, and (5) free online access to the bibliometric data of Latin American databases. Abilities to work independently, communicate effectively in writing, as well as set and meet deadlines were also important.
Factors that affect the success of an online internship are similar to those that would impact an in-person one. Clarifying expectations at the outset along with the nature/content of deliverables is of paramount importance. Integrity, that is, following through on what you say you are going to do is also critical. Flexibility and understanding on the part of both mentor and mentee are also necessary to accommodate life’s inevitable unexpected events. Dedication to a quality outcome, as exhibited through hard work and creativity, is also a big plus.
The most rewarding aspects of my internship may be yet to come. There’s no telling where the new friendships and professional associations will lead. Orchid and I plan to share the results of our bibliometric project at SALALM Miami as a prelude to publishing them in an academic journal. No matter who you are or where you reside, a HAPI internship could be a valuable step in your professional development.