One interesting thing I’ve noticed is that in smaller organizations, the person reaching out to me is almost always the person listed on the BeInvolved at IU page as the president. But in larger organizations, there is usually an intern or a club board member who gets back to me. That’s why I’m always surprised if a person credited as a club or organization’s founder or president reaches out to me to confirm they got their email. I think it bodes well for a club agreeing to work with us if the member with the most authority is the one who responds. However, I also like working with interns too, because I feel like we have something in common right away. I believe that working with RPSL could be really good for them, because it doesn’t require them to do anything overly taxing, but it will still give them experience organizing an event. That’s why I’m perfectly happy to correspond with another student!
I’ve enjoyed this internship a lot! I’m happy with the work I’ve been able to do, and I really hope it helps RPSL. I’ve enjoyed my work with them quite a bit, and I’ll miss the people I worked with.
One thing I think could potentially be helpful for future students doing an internship would be a description of the structure of the academic aspect of it. A lot of people have asked me questions about whether there is an internship ‘class’ that meets periodically, if I have to write any papers, if there is a final exam, etc. I think if there was maybe a short summary of how the academic internship aspect typically goes, it would be really helpful for future students!
One big reason I think I haven’t gotten a whole lot of responses is that many organizations have either a non-IU affiliated gmail account or, worse yet, the president or vice president’s student email. A non-IU affiliated gmail account is the better of these two options, but I think there are still problems there. For example, a non-IU gmail seems riskier to send messages to than an IU account. There could also be the potential annoyance of someone syncing their calendar to the gmail account so that the next person has random notifications popping up.
A student’s individual email account clearly isn’t any better for the obvious reason that it’s unusable once the student graduates, but I’ve seen plenty of organizations that do this.
Because this internship involves making a small searchable database, I’ve had to come up with a controlled vocabulary. For example, for the both the Latino Cultural Center and the Asian Culture center, I use the term ‘cultural understanding.’ However, many organizations also get a keyword that is unique to them. For example, the Asian Culture Center often does events for the Lunar New Year. So for their entry, they have ‘Lunar New Year’ listed. My ultimate goal is for the keyword searching to be just as helpful to future Center Supervisors as searching by title.
But would it make more sense to focus on title searches? Actually, no! Part of the purpose of this list is to help future Center Supervisors find organizations they may not have heard of before. If they don’t know the organization’s name, it doesn’t matter how good title searching is – they won’t find what they’re looking for. Therefore, the keywords have to help them identify which organizations are, for example, focused on health wellness.
One of the most common questions I get asked in reply emails is what kind of program RPSL would be interested in doing with the other department. This is a hard question to answer, because it depends! It could be as simple as providing brochures or giving a small talk on an educational topic. It could be more informative and involve helping patrons learn a new skill. Either way, our department should be prepared to take the lead. I always have to be careful to emphasize this so that there are no concerns about unpleasant surprises!
Since I can’t tell them exactly what we might want to work on with them, I often try and come up with past examples. Thankfully, I’ve been here long enough to remember what kind of programs we’ve done in the past. This answer is usually sufficient for the people I contact!
A few of the major campus organizations have gotten back to me by now and expressed their interest in collaborating. One of them told me they can’t because they’re too busy, which is too bad, but I think that we still have a wide variety of student organizations represented. I’m hopeful that we at least have a good foundation for incoming Center Supervisors to contact about their program ideas. I hope to be kept in the loop with how everyone is doing so it won’t be weird if I ask if this information helped!
As I’m getting ready to wrap up my project, I’m working on creating notes and a tutorial for any future interns for this department. I have to make sure they know how to use the Access database, who I contacted, and what information I got from them.
I suspect the next intern will have a few new people to contact – IU adds new clubs and organizations all the time, so even if someone takes over this project in the fall, they’ll have new people to contact on behalf of our department.
One interesting thing I’ve noticed throughout this internship is that organizations who have their president’s email listed as their preferred method of contact are not necessarily less likely to respond to my inquiries than any other organizations. I think this is possibly because if the club email is also the president’s personal email, it’s more likely that the president will see it. The organizations who have consistently not gotten back to me are those who have a non-IU gmail account for their organizations. It seems like the better-established clubs and organizations are assigned institutional emails from IU, whereas those that are just starting up will use their own. But this makes me wonder: at what point do you receive an IU-affiliated mail address for your organization? When are you considered fully established?
Questions like these aren’t really relevant to my internship or my future career. I just find it interesting to note. When I leave my current position, I will leave behind instructions for this project in case anyone would like to go through and try and again to see if they can get more responses. I’ll add notes like these in for the next person so that they can manage their time wisely!
So when I began this outreach project, I was pleasantly surprised by how many organizations I found that were run by off-campus individuals who just wanted to help students. However, it seems like this part of the campus organizations database is probably the least updated, as I haven’t been able to get ahold of anyone from these off-campus groups. Which is too bad – even if they’re not on campus, we’d still like to collaborate with them. I hope that IU still has a good rapport with off-campus groups!
Other than that, I’ve found a lot of interesting organizations I think it’d be fun to collaborate with!
So far just today, I’ve discovered at least four student organizations that I didn’t know existed. I’m reaching out to all of them to assess their interest in collaborating with the libraries. While I have a form e-mail typed up, I have to check each organization’s website carefully to see what information they have available there. I don’t want to ask them questions that would be annoying or intrusive. The most important thing I need to ask is who their point of contact is and how that point of contact feels about doing programs with RPSL.
So far this has been going smoothly! I’ll keep you all updated if we hit any snags.