Hello NNLM community! My name is Dev Wilder and I have the honor of being one of the R5 guest bloggers for DataFlash! A little bit about myself, I am currently enrolled in the Masters of Library and Information Science program at the University of Washington in Seattle, focusing on health science and data librarianship. My graduate studies will conclude in Spring 2023 where I hope to either further my education or go directly into the workforce. For 10 weeks, I participated in the NCDS/NNLM Data Services Internship. Here is a little bit about my journey!
Coming from a background in Biology, statistical analysis, and research, I have always sought out opportunities that allow me to connect my previous field to my current one. Prior to applying to this internship program, I was the grad student performing a million Google searches looking for the “right” opportunity over the summer to grow in the field I was interested in. My goals were to take away new skills, use them to give back to the organization, and apply them to my studies. One day I opened an email from a mentor of mine and she had sent over the application for the NCDS internship. Upon viewing what the program entailed, I was drawn to the work. It met all of my desires, there was opportunity for growth, application of previous knowledge, and with its initiative geared towards underrepresented communities, it inspired me to not only apply but if accepted, strive to continue being involved in any way I can for future initiatives.
Once I started, I wanted to learn as much as I could and make the most out of the 10 weeks. The typical week as an intern consisted of attending training and information sessions, participating in weekly group check-ins, and working with mentors on our projects. My favorite part about each week was attending the workshops that were offered and being able to practice different tools. After group sessions, traditionally two to three hours of my day were dedicated to practicing with the tools learned and applying them to my project. With the number of things I took away from this experience, the most notable one was truly embracing the hands-on learning process. Oftentimes as a student and a professional, there is the pressure of product production. There was a project to complete, but this internship provided the space to focus on exploration through the exposure that was given. In addition to the internship agenda, something I thoroughly enjoyed was serving as a helper for the two-day library carpentry workshop. It was a wonderful experience to not only help attendees with the questions they had, but to learn how to work with people in that capacity and observe instruction. I hope to continue helping with them and would one day love to teach one! Incredibly grateful for the experience I had and hope to have many more like it.
For my final project, I was assigned to the NYU Health Sciences Library (NYUHSL) Evaluation project. We were supplied data from a survey that was administered to course participants from their Data Day to Day Series. I tailored my focus to investigating methods of survey design, information interpretation, and evaluation strategies to better understand the needs of class participants. My processes included conducting a breakdown of the questions in the survey by revealing the question types and their response success. To accomplish this, I established a method of classification, analyzed responses and their frequency, as well as performed text mining to construct a list about topics respondents desired to learn. The main challenge I had with this project was initially finding something to investigate beyond what was already known. However, this challenged my ideation process and introduced me to the world of survey design! Usually, I have been the person people will hand off data to and create a visualization or perform statistical analysis, but this is one of the few times I had the chance to explore it myself and be inquisitive about the data that exists.
This is a slide from my presentation where I used my results from text mining to create a general list of desires from respondents for future topics. Something I noticed and plan to investigate further are the specific topics that are geared towards certain roles. There was a trend in topics requested and the roles of the respondents. From a service and targeting perspective, that can provide more insight on how to shape courses for participants in which they can apply in real time. This is also a point in my presentation where I displayed my use of new analysis and visualization tools. I thoroughly enjoyed working on this project as well as talking to the creators and understanding the context of it and how I can apply my knowledge to other scenarios.
One major lesson I have learned in life is that exposure is the greatest and most necessary gateway to education and learning. I can attest to this as a person from an underrepresented community. This internship was nothing short of an environment that fostered that exposure and learning. I have been able to apply all aspects of this internship to work that I do outside of the internship, and it prompted me to think about how to use the skills in my roles. Last, but most certainly not least, I took value in seeing the representation that was in this opportunity and the ability to interact with individuals who looked like myself. I would most certainly recommend the NCDS internship to other students. If this is what you know you are interested in, but even more so if you feel like you’re just trying to figure it all out and want that exposure. That is exactly where I started, and I know where I want to go from here. There is no such thing as the perfect internship, but you never know what experiences will provide clarity for you. It was a very healthy, enriching experience and one I hope many students will take advantage of in the future.
Many thanks to NCDS, coordinators, mentors, fellow interns, family, friends, and NNLM for cheering us on every step of the way and investing time in us as growing professionals. While there is no such thing as the perfect internship, for me personally in my LIS journey…this was pretty darn close.