Ethan Groff ‘ 15 – First of all I would like to thank the Lilly Endowment for their funding, which makes this all possible, and Mr. Roland Morin, Wabash class of ’91, for recommending me to apply for this internship. Over the past 6 weeks I have been the Intern at the Mishawaka-Penn-Harris Public Library (MPHPL). So, I’m a librarian you ask? Nope, not at all! However, over the past 6 weeks I have been given the opportunity to be everything in the library except the librarian (Librarians need an MLS after all). In my brief stint here at the library I have been simultaneously exposed to the world of non-for profits, and the world of education. My internship is focused around a set of projects that my bosses want me to help the library with. These include; group projects, from website design meetings to a presentation and discussion of Hoopla (an online based resource rapidly gaining popularity with libraries across the country), to individual projects, such as working on a Social Media plan, doing research on other libraries to help us plan the most up to date programs, and then attending those Summer Reading programs. Some particular highlights include, walking alongside the library in the Memorial Day parade, a local puppeteer putting on a very funny show, visiting different libraries throughout the state to do on-site research, and creating the wireframes that will eventually become the Library’s new website. Every day presents itself with new challenges and surprises, and all of these different activities mean I haven’t had a “regular” day yet!
Now of course one of the first questions people ask me is; are you going into Library science after graduation? The answer to that is no, but that doesn’t mean this internship hasn’t been extremely valuable and insightful in helping me discover what it is I do want to do when I graduate. I have seen first-hand what it means to be passionate about ones work. The Librarians here are very passionate about helping people find the right book, but more importantly are passionate about helping people learn. The joy on the faces of the librarians and children during the summer programs (and my own joy that comes from sharing these experiences) has been a powerful teacher. In a more professional sense, this internship has taught me many of the ins and outs of running a company. My boss is in charge of hiring’s at the library, and I have gotten to see the kind of time and effort that is put into hiring new members to a staff (even if I cannot be in the interviews myself). Through my conversations with Dena (my boss), Donna (the Branch manager at the downtown branch, also technically, another boss), and Dave (The Library director, THE boss) I have been asked to weigh in on matters that affect the entire running of the library. The projects I am currently working on include, helping redesign the website and doing research for the 30th anniversary celebration of our Bittersweet branch (Penn Township). By the end of the summer I will also be able to add budgeting (finance), Public relations, and Marketing to my resume. Needless to say, even though Library Science may not be in my future, this Internship has been very beneficial to me.
Finally, this summer has taught me a great deal about myself. Because a big part of my Internship focuses on projects that I work on independently I have had the opportunity to find out that I can be an excellent self-starter. (I have also found that sometimes I am not!) I have found out that I am very passionate about helping people learn (I think I get that from my mom, a high school teacher). I have found out that I enjoy my job much more when I am working directly with other people. Finally, I have learned that one is never too old to enjoy a good puppet show. Have a wonderful summer everyone!