With a practicum, NYC’s great libraries, archives, museums, information design firms, and more are your workshops for learning and professional experience.
As a School of Information student, you’ll be studying in one of the world’s cultural and information capitals. In the INFO 698 Practicum/Seminar course, we enable you to take full advantage of New York's dazzling array of opportunities to gain professional experience while still in graduate school.
Practicum is a three-credit course which features hands-on experiential learning and applying knowledge and skills through:
120 hours of on-site work experience supervised by an information professional in a work environment that reflects your area of interest.
four seminar sessions with the course instructor.
a practicum project and journal drawn from on-site experience and research.
a project presentation at the final seminar session.
Frequently Asked Questions
Q. I am interested in taking INFO 698 Practicum/Seminar. What are the special features of this course?
A. The practicum is a three-credit course for which the main learning component is a supervised professional work experience and project. The student works in a setting that reflects their interests as an information professional. The course requires 120 hours working on-site, four seminar sessions, and one major assignment in the form of a culminating practicum project related to the student's work experience that incorporates observation, critical thinking, evaluation, and research.
Q. What makes a practicum different from regular work experience?
A. The practicum is defined as a learning experience incorporating mentoring and professional supervision in which work is viewed from critical and evaluative perspectives, in contrast to the notion of routine or regular work.
Q. What are the special benefits of doing a practicum?
A. In doing a practicum, you will be able to:
Apply what you have learned in the classroom to a real work environment.
Understand and demonstrate the relationship between theory and practice.
Gain experience that acts a bridge to professional work and employment opportunities after graduation.
Facilitate networking and build professional relationships.
Receive mentoring by the practicum supervisor.
Enhance and improve your skills, knowledge, and abilities.
Tell potential employers that you have professional work experience.
Q. Is a practicum right for me?
A. Students who begin their program without having work experience in the information professions or who want to gain more in-depth experience in a specific area related to their career goals should carefully consider this option. Students will also find that the practicum offers good networking opportunities that often lead to employment.
Q. When can I do a practicum?
A. Students should complete a minimum of one semester in their program before registering for a practicum. In addition, students will need to have taken at least one course related to their area of practicum work. For example, INFO 653 Knowledge Organization serves as a prerequisite to a cataloging practicum; INFO 625 Management of Archives & Special Collections serves as a prerequisite to an archives practicum.
Q. How do I plan for the practicum?
A. You should start planning no later than the beginning of the semester preceding the one in which you would like to do the practicum. Consider the type of information environment that would best serve your education and career goals.
Q. How can I find a practicum placement?
A. Once you have identified the type of setting in which you would like to work, make a list of places in order of priority. It is recommended that you keep an eye out for internship postings on the School of Information email listserv as well. Staff in the School of Information office or your academic advisor can help you determine whether or not a particular placement will suit the requirements of the course. You will need to contact the potential internship institution directly and interview with the site supervisor. The site supervisor makes the offer to the student to engage in the practicum at their organization/institution. The student should then submit the practicum application to the School of Information office.
Q. Is INFO 698 Practicum the only option for doing an internship at the School of Information?
A. Students may choose to do an internship that does not involve the School of Information, which is managed between the student and the internship site. Note that the School is unable to oversee internships that are not conducted through one of the School’s formal channels. If you have questions about the appropriateness of an internship, please contact staff in the School of Information office or your academic advisor.
Please note that enrolling in INFO 9600 0-credit Internship is required for international students taking summer internships. During the fall and spring semesters, students who have already completed INFO 698 Practicum/Seminar can take INFO 9601 1-credit Internship, which allows students to intern for an additional semester after completing INFO 698 Practicum/Seminar. For international students, CPT authorization from the Office of International Affairs is also required. View more information for CPT authorization.
Q. I am interested in offering a School of Information student a practicum at my organization/institution. How do I go about setting that up?
A. First, the student needs to be supervised by an information professional who commits to providing an educational experience for the student. The supervisor should typically work at the organization full-time and have a Master’s degree in the field in which the student is enrolled. Second, the supervisor should develop a list of professional skills and knowledge that the student will be able to apply in the real-world setting. The school is happy to work with site supervisors to establish appropriate skills and knowledge, and will review this information when the students applies to enroll in the practicum course. Third, the site supervisor will commit to supervising the student for the 120 hours they are on-site. Fourth, at the end of the semester, the site supervisor should complete a student performance evaluation form, which is factored into the students’ final grade by the practicum course instructor.
Note that practicums or internships should not be confused with jobs as practicums are primarily educational and not a form of work. Practicum sites may provide students with monetary stipends, which should not be construed as salary.
Once these criteria have been satisfied, please put together a posting that advertises the practicum to students. The posting should provide background on the organization, work location, scheduling options, what the students are expected to learn, the activities they will complete, how they should apply, and the deadline. Please be as specific as possible. Once it is complete, send it to Quinn Lai (email@example.com), who will review it and post it to the student listserv. Site supervisors should interview applicants, make a selection, and notify students. Students then fill-out the practicum application form and submit it to Quinn Lai, who reviews the information and registers the student for the practicum course.
Q.Can I use my job as a practicum site?
An internship/practicum is primarily educational in nature as you apply what has been learned in the classroom to a real-world environment. Mistakes are learning opportunities, and do sometimes occur when a student is applying a new skill set for the first time. A job typically requires the completion of tasks, and mistakes—while they can be a learning opportunity—may also be detrimental to supervisor evaluation of performance with potential ramifications, with the most severe being the loss of employment. As the expectations for a job are significantly different than that of an internship, a student’s current job generally cannot be used as a practicum site. However, an exception can be made if an internship opportunity at a student’s current place of employment meets certain conditions:
The 120-internship hours must be completed outside regular work hours
The internship supervisor must be someone other than the student’s regular supervisor (a different department is preferred)
The student will be undertake a set of duties/responsibilities during the internship that are separate from their regular employment duties
*In the case of the Archives Certificate, the fieldwork requirement can be waived if a student is currently employed as a full-time archivist.
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