Virtual Internships: A COVID Side effect should Keep

Author Name(s)

Damaris Juarez

Faculty Advisor(s)

Elizabeth Blackwood


For students at California State University Channel Islands (CSUCI) and the library that serves them, the pivot to online learning for the entirety of the 2020-2021 academic year disrupted the normal educational experience in myriad ways. CSUCI is a Hispanic Serving Institution, which serves many first-generation, non-traditional, and underserved students. Remote instruction separated many librarians from the needs of these students, creating greater challenges for quick assessment of student needs, which were especially high within this population. One method that the Library used (quite by accident) to combat this disconnect was through leveraging the knowledge and network of student interns. Due to the pandemic, many students were unable to fulfill internship and field experience requirements as cultural institutions in the area shut their doors to outside visitors. The library stepped in to find roles for some of these students, which created a symbiotic partnership that benefitted both the student and the library. Remote internships and field experiences are more equitable as they require less financial and time burdens on students who may already be facing challenges with transportation, childcare, work schedules, and among others. Highlighting the benefits of virtual internships such as encouraging community engagement and emphasizing the flexibility of time management, work experience, economic relief, undergraduate academic fulfillment, and preparation in our technologically-based advancing society. By incorporating a case study on the intern and librarian perspectives within virtual internships. This paper will describe how librarians can partner with student interns to gain a better understanding of student needs and challenges in the remote environment, while also providing job experience and training for the intern in a more equitable way. While many academic libraries are eager to return to a state of normal in light of the Covid-19 pandemic, this paper will argue that the remote internship is one pandemic change that should remain.



2 thoughts on “Virtual Internships: A COVID Side effect should Keep”

  1. Great topic. YOur presentation was very clear and engaging and provided great examples of the benefits of a virtual internship.

  2. Maria Ballesteros-Sola

    Your research is intriguing, as it highlights a positive outcome of COVID (is that is possible!). It tides nicely with the larger question about what COVID induced changes we will retain both in our professional and personal lives once the pandemic is over. Specifically, your question about keeping the internship after COVID can help CSUCI leaders to make more informed decisions. So kudos for exploring something that matters!

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