Interns and practica students help Special Collections achieve fulfill its mission by working on archival processing and description or digital capture and metadata projects, and outreach initiatives including exhibitions and programming. We create effective internships by
- collaborating with students to create clearly defined goals;
- offering weekly feedback on projects and performance;
- and providing opportunities for students to reflect on their experiences.
Special Collections stresses a standards-based approach to digitization and description, and uses archival and digital asset management systems commonly adopted by galleries, libraries, archives, and museums (GLAMs) in the United States. Interns and practica students who successfully complete projects in Special Collections gain important transferable skills and exposure to professional software applications that help prepare them for graduate studies or careers in archival administration and records management.
Special Collections works with the following partners to provide unpaid, for credit internship and practicum experiences for undergraduate and graduate students.
Duties and Qualifications
Internship duties may include:
- arranging and describing archival collections;
- authoring biographical and historical notes that provide context for archival materials;
- creating finding aids in compliance with Describing Archives: A Content Standard (DACS) and local practices using ArchivesSpace;
- conducting oral history interviews;
- transcribing audio and video assets;
- using scanners and cameras to digitize archival materials and rare books;
- creating descriptive metadata and developing digital collections using CONTENTdm;
- applying controlled vocabularies, including LCSH, LCNAF, AAT, and RightsStatements.org, to describe digital objects;
- curating web and physical exhibitions;
- authoring lesson plans for K-12 audiences;
- conducting research and writing narratives for grant applications;
- and developing Buzzfeed quizzes, blog posts, and other outreach initiatives.
Required qualifications include:
- ability to learn about Special Collections discovery tools and resources through training and self-paced learning;
- ability to work independently and produce high quality, thorough, and accurate work;
- ability to follow detailed written instructions;
- strong organizational, analytical and problem-solving skills as well as demonstrated initiative and adaptability;
- working knowledge of office productivity suites, such as Microsoft Office and Google Drive;
- and effective written and oral communication skills.
Desired qualifications include:
- demonstrated experience working or volunteering in a library or archival repository;
- and demonstrated experience using complex data entry systems.
Special Collections works closely with interns and volunteers to provide experiences tailored to meet the learning needs of individuals. Past projects assisted by interns and volunteers include the following:
Read about past projects and experiences in our Intern Perspectives series on the UTC Library Blog!
Interested parties should apply to intern in Special Collections by submitting a cover letter, resume, and application to the Director of Special Collections, Carolyn Runyon, using the UT Vault.
- Log into UT Vault at vault.utk.edu using your alias address and UTC password. Every UTC student has an alias address. Example: [email protected] would enter her email address as [email protected]
- Address the message to Carolyn Runyon at [email protected] with the Subject: Student Assistant Application – Your Name. Compose your message and attach your cover letter, resume, and complete application.
- Check the box “Send me verification when the message is received.”
The cover letter should provide a description of the applicant's relevant experience and expertise and address what the applicant hopes to gain from the internship, including learning objectives and how the internship would meet the applicant's career goals. The cover letter should also describe how they would like to positively contribute to the mission of Special Collections. We encourage all applicants to think broadly about what they hope to accomplish in their practical experiences and pitch projects such as curating exhibits, processing collections, authoring finding aids, drafting records management policies, creating a digital preservation plan, developing programming, or creating curriculum maps, lesson plans, and research guides.
Internship candidates must interview with the Director of Special Collections and must be willing work onsite during our regular hours of operation at least 10 hours during the Fall and Spring semesters and 15 hours a week during the Summer long term. See the academic calendar for details. Applicants are encouraged to consider working 2 semesters in Special Collections to gain more well-rounded experiences in archives and records management.
In addition to their project-based work, interns seeking course credit must submit a formal proposal, submit an updated resume for review, and author an Intern Perspectives blog post.
In addition to the application, all interns in Special Collections must submit a proposal within one week of their internship. The proposal is designed to help personnel in Special Collection identify projects that help interns meet their goals and help them in their professional or academic ambitions. Intern proposals should be 1-2 pages in length and address the following questions:
- What do you expect to learn and apply?
- How will you use your existing skills, knowledge, and course work to inform your internship?
- What are your goals and anticipated outcomes for your internship?
- How will your internship contribute to your professional and/or academic goals?
Resume and Cover Letter
All interns and practica students in Special Collections will submit a cover letter and resume to the Director of Special Collections for review. The Director of Special Collections will coordinate with each student to set a deadline for submitting their resumes and cover letters. Students are strongly encouraged to view the following courses on Lynda.com to prepare for this assignment:
When submitting their cover letters, students must also include the sample job or internship description they used to write the letter. Once submitted, the Director of Special Collections will schedule a one-on-one meeting with each intern to provide feedback about improving their resume or CV to meet the goals stated in their proposals.
All interns in Special Collections are expected to write a blog post summarizing their practical experiences. The posts are meant to give the interns an opportunity to describe their experiences and think critically about what they have learned, how the experience contributed to their stated goals, and what challenges they encountered. All blog posts should be 1-3 pages in length and include at least two images. They should be submitted to the Director of Special Collections by email before or on the last day of the internship. Interns may consider the following questions, in no particular order, when drafting their blog posts:
- What did you do? What projects did you undertake?
- What did you expect to learn? Did you learn what you expected to learn?
- What were your goals at the outset of the internship? How did they change as the internship progressed?
- How did your coursework, software competencies, or other skills inform your work?
- What challenges did you face? How did you overcome these challenges?
- How did your experience change your perspective or assumptions about archival work?
Interns who wish to receive feedback on their posts, may submit them to the Director of Special Collections at least one week before the end of their internship.
Blog posts will be published in the UTC Library's blog Intern Perspectives series.
Special Collections communicates with interns and practica students through email and a Google calendar. Further, Special Collections uses Google Sheets to manage most projects. In order to engage with Special Collections, volunteers and interns must have a MocsMail or Gmail account.
Interns and practica students working in Special Collections also meet one-on-one with their onsite supervisor every week. Meetings are scheduled via MocsMail/Google calendar and students are expected to lead meetings by asking questions, bringing up concerns, and/or pulling material for consideration by their supervisor.
Interns and practica students are subject to the Student Assistant, Intern, and Volunteer Guidelines for Working in Special Collections and are responsible for making their own parking arrangements. Parking information may be found on our Hours, Location and Facilities.