Virtual Internship Experiences of Library and Information Science Students During the Pandemic

  • Daniel Jr. Soriano Balbin (Department of Library and Information Services, Benguet State University) ;
  • Russell Battad Dolendo (Department of Library and Information Science, College of Information Sciences, Benguet State University)
  • Received : 2023.01.30
  • Accepted : 2023.05.12
  • Published : 2023.09.30


This study aimed to discover the notable experiences of Library and Information Science students in a virtual internship program. It employed qualitative descriptive research design by thematically analyzing the monthly internship journal of the interns. Using Colaizzi's method to identify themes from their experiences, the study revealed that interns expected to gain knowledge and skills on operations, services, and new information communication technologies in libraries. Orientation was found helpful in identifying the things interns needed to prepare. The interns faced issues from procrastination and technical difficulties, which they coped with employing avoidance strategies. Overall, the internship was viewed as an opportunity to learn and navigate the online digital system of the library despite the coronavirus disease 2019 pandemic. They realized their capacity and reflected on which competencies need improvement. In conclusion, students still learned the necessary knowledge and skills of a librarian; experienced the challenges faced in an actual library and were provided with various opportunities and realizations regarding the practice of librarianship. This study proposed a three-stage framework that outlines the involvement of the supervising instructors, librarians, and interns in the internship program from the preparation to the process and post-assessment.



Internship is an important aspect of professional education. It enables students to get exposure with professionals, to experience their day-to-day activities, and to encounter the challenges faced in an institutional environment (Bird et al., 2015). Especially in the field of librarianship, it is a professional learning experience that takes place in an actual library for aspiring students to undergo various tasks involving library operations (Malik & Ameen, 2010). In fact, the development of the profession traces its origin to internships, apprenticeships, and in-service training in great libraries (Mukherjee, 1966). As added by Dotson and Doston-Blake (2015), internships are clinical experiences intended for students to bridge theoretical foundations of librarianship into practical application. Bird et al. (2015) argue that internships provide a professionally guided experience compared to any other experiential learning activities for students. Besides experiencing the professional world, students are able to reflect with deeper learning than a course-based assignment could ever grant. Malik and Ameen (2010) used the terms practicum, internship, apprenticeship, and field work to refer to these field-based activities where students engage in professional learning experience under supervision of a professional librarian. Searing and Walter (2012) also used the term field experience to cover any work experience in a library that occurs because of one’s status as a Library and Information Science (LIS) student.

In Benguet State University (BSU) in La Trinidad, Benguet, Philippines, the internship is a required subject to be taken by students enrolled in the LIS program to fully immerse themselves in learning the professional practice of the theories they have learned in their previous coursework. Commission on Higher Education Memorandum Order No. 24, Series of 2015 sets the highest level of quality desired for the education and training of library and information professionals. The program was designed to provide students with on-the-job experience in academic, government, school, and special library environments. Based from the syllabus and course description, the practicum equips students for the demands of the shifting paradigm of library service by strengthening and supplementing the theoretical knowledge gained in the classroom in a real work setting. It also prepares students for the modern and automated delivery of information services through completing actual activities in the different aspects of library service. During the pandemic, internships could only be done virtually; that is why the supervising instructor, librarians, and especially students, adopted changes to adjust to the online internship set-up.

The shift in the conduct of internships from a physical to online set-up was one of the effects of the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic. The pandemic had a great impact not only on internships but on the whole aspect of education and training (Bugis, 2021). It brought the education sector to go through necessary changes for students, teachers, and educational institutes to abide by government guidelines and protocols (Dani et al., 2020). The adaptation of virtual or online internships became the common strategy used by various learning institutions in training students from the medical, education, business, hospitality and tourism, and information communication technology (ICT) fields (Bilsland et al., 2020; Bugis, 2021; Dani et al., 2020; He et al., 2021; Theelen et al., 2020; Yıldırım et al., 2021).

Virtual internship is not a novel idea. In fact, many institutions have already been offering online LIS programs and virtual internships have been well established (Juarez & Blackwood, 2022). However, both the teaching department and the library department of BSU is new to this kind of internship. This paper will describe the experiences of LIS interns during the pandemic and identify the advantages and disadvantages of the virtual internship program.


Iradel et al. (2021) revealed several themes that described the lived experiences of pre-service teachers during their internship. The first of the themes showed that interns set their expectations towards their internship. According to Hruska et al. (2022), it is important for virtual interns to have a clearly defined expectation towards the internship program. That is why internship satisfaction studies include expectations as integral to revealing interns’ experiences (Vo et al., 2022). As added by Cannon and Arnold (1998), as cited by Păceșilă and Popescu (2022), employers and academics believe it is important to understand students’ expectations towards internships. These expectations reveal what students hope to experience and their intention to be able to identify things needed to be arranged or prepared for their internship. Iradel et al. (2021) discussed a theme where students were able to receive support from various sources ranging from financial, moral, and emotional support. In this part of their study, it revealed various arrangements made by students before the internship, especially its online mode. Hruska et al. (2022) recommended establishment of a virtual work environment resulting in productivity and collaboration among interns. The online internship required vast adjustments for students and educators, so determining the preparations made would provide better understanding of online internship experiences during the pandemic. In fact, the preparedness of both the mentors and interns are factors in achieving internship goals, especially when it is conducted remotely (Wickramasinghe & Jayawardane, 2022).

With these drastic changes and preparations needed, virtual internships are not immune to challenges. Iradel et al. (2021) discussed the roadblocks faced by interns during the online internship as a part of the whole internship experience. Paired with these challenges were the coping strategies employed by interns to survive and succeed with their internship. Quinco-Cadosales (2022) inquired of virtual interns how they coped with the challenges of an online teaching internship. Iradel et al. (2021) revealed how these challenges affected the interns, and they were mostly attributed to the COVID-19 pandemic. It is interesting to also document these challenges to know if it would differ in the context of a developing country. As concluded by Aucejo et al. (2020), less advantaged students felt more negative economic and health impacts during the online mode of classes.

However, studies did not only focus on the negatives, as there were also opportunities that the virtual internship offered. Iradel et al. (2021), on one of the themes of internship experience, revealed that interns considered the virtual internship as an opportunity for skill development, acquisition, and self-improvement. According to Kernan and Basch (2022), students benefited from virtual internship by enabling them to learn and practice skills related to communication with technology, conveniently and with lesser cost. Wickramasinghe and Jayawardane (2022) also revealed that remote internship provides exposure to network and employment opportunities to interns.

Lastly, the whole internship experience can be concluded by the learning and reflections that the interns gained after the immersion. Iradel et al. (2021) dedicated three themes in which interns were able to express what they learned throughout their internship. Specifically, interns exhibited cognitive-social-teaching presence, developed growth mindset, resilience, integrity, and tenacity (GRIT), and were also able to reflect on their online internship experience.

2.1. The Library Practicum in Benguet State University

The library practicum is the final part of the library science education program where students transition from being a student to becoming a librarian. Quijano (2015) previously identified five professional competencies in which the tasks of interns were categorized, namely; (1) cataloging and classification, (2) reference and information work, (3) indexing and abstracting, (4) information technology, and (5) others. For this internship, the assigned tasks added organization and management, and selection and acquisition, to align with the subject areas covered in the exam. In traditional face-to-face internship, all tasks are performed in actual. The interns report to the library and are stationed in various sections of the library to provide reference and circulation services. They are also routinely rotated for them to experience all sorts of library work, including technical work, managerial work, and appraisal functions. Fortunately during the pandemic, most libraries were able to migrate their services online and initiated virtual counter part for all of their services. This made virtual internships for LIS student feasible. Interns could still achieve learning outcomes by performing digital library workloads remotely

2.2. Internship Model

This study took inspiration from the internship models of Sweitzer and King (2019), Kiser (2015), Woodside (2017), and Quijano (2015) that described the stages of internship. The developmental stage of internship of Sweitzer and King (2019) included interns’ expectations and preparations in the anticipation stage up until their reflections in the culmination stage. Kiser (2015) emphasized the bridge between these two stages and dubbed it as the working stage where the bulk of internship work occurs. It is also where most of the issues and challenges arise that interns are expected to handle. Quijano (2015) emphasized the latter stage of internship where reflection bridges experiences into meaningful understanding of the profession. These models highlight the importance of preparation, continuous feedback, new skills and knowledge development, and networking. Additionally, virtual internships may require additional steps such as ensuring that the intern has access to the necessary technology and software, setting up virtual communication tools, and clarifying expectations for remote work. Apart from the stages, the involved parties in the internship could also be included in developing a framework to illustrate the interaction between the instructor, the librarians, and the interns, as exemplified by the model of Bird and Crumpton (2014).


This study aimed to discover the notable experiences of LIS students in their virtual library internship program as extracted from their reflections. Specifically, the study aimed to answer the following questions:

RQ1. What were the interns’ expectations towards their virtual internship?

RQ2. What were the preparations made by the interns for their virtual internship?

RQ3. What were the challenges faced by virtual interns?

RQ4. What were the coping strategies employed by the interns?

RQ5. What were the opportunities available for the interns during their virtual internship?

RQ6. What were the realizations of the interns after their internship?

RQ7. What would be the suitable internship model/framework for BSU LIS students in the new normal?


The research utilized a qualitative descriptive design and employed diary analysis of the students’ internship journals. These journals were monthly entries that documented their accomplishments and insights regarding their internship, with specific prompts for each month centered on their expectations, preparations, challenges, coping mechanisms, opportunities, and realizations. The entries were collected through Google forms and consolidated, analyzed, and coded using Collaizi’s thematic analysis to identify prominent themes. To begin the analysis, the journal entries of each participant were combined into a single file for each student, resulting in a comprehensive collection of data. Each transcript was then carefully read and reread to gain an overall understanding of its contents. Significant statements that pertained to the phenomenon under study were then highlighted and recorded on a separate sheet, along with the corresponding code for the student. From these significant statements, meanings were formulated and categorized into subcategories. The findings of the study were then synthesized into an exhaustive description of the phenomenon under study, which in this case is the students’ internship experience. The fundamental structure of the phenomenon was then described. Finally, to ensure the accuracy of the results, the research participants were consulted via follow-up interviews via chat, email, or messaging to validate the researcher’s descriptive findings against their own experiences. The study covered a virtual internship that ran from August to December 2021, followed by a partially virtual internship from January to May 2022, where the 35 students reported physically and performed a mix of virtual tasks.


The findings present the percentage of students who expressed the following responses pertaining to their expectations, preparations, challenges, coping strategies, opportunities, and realizations. The responses were extracted and examined from journal entries as shown in the appendix. The tables present statements according to what was experienced by students the most.

5.1. Expectations

Table 1 shows that interns were mostly expecting to gain knowledge and skills on library operations and organization. This includes interns expressing their hopes on learning about the roles and responsibilities of librarians and how are they being translated into practice. They expect to learn the roles of a librarian, the new technologies (e.g., online public access catalog, databases, systems), and new knowledge on the different actual library operations. The interns were already familiar with the library staff, its services, and procedures because they have experienced the library services before. However, because both the internship and the library services went online during the pandemic, interns still expected an orientation or introduction of library services and procedures before starting their tasks. They still needed instructions and briefing on the house rules, policies, and outputs expected from them as interns and not as library users.

Table 1. Library interns’ expectations (n=35)

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The interns also hoped that their co-interns will be helpful, cooperative, and supportive. However, most of them were anxious about the responsiveness and availability of their co-interns during online meetings due to expected delayed communication. Still, some interns were optimistic towards their co-interns hoping they contribute and help everyone patiently, because not everybody knows what to do. The interns hoped for a positive relationship from their co-interns despite the anticipated difficulty in connecting with each other virtually.

The interns were also optimistic about learning from the university library. Results show that 69% of the interns were sure that they could learn a great deal from the university library, whether their internship will be online or face-to-face. One of the reasons cited by the interns includes the geographical accessibility of the library. Because 66% of them also hoped for a face-to-face internship, they also expected that they could easily visit the library physically whenever they need guidance about their tasks. The interns also expressed confidence in the library staff’s competence in training them. The recognition of the library as an outstanding academic/research library was also cited as to why interns were certain they can learn from the library. The interns’ familiarity with the library makes them confident and at ease with their internship. This means that the institution’s recognition and familiarity to the interns affects how students project expectations towards their internship.

Interns also hoped that supervisors would be approachable and responsive when they ask for assistance and guidance from the librarians. Interns were expecting to learn but not from the librarians alone. They were not expecting people to be helping them, because they should learn to do thing on their own. Even if they expected to be guided by supervising librarians and be supported by their co-interns, they knew they had to rely on themselves and not on others. The interns knew it would be challenging to undergo their internship virtually because they had a hard time coping with virtual classes. They associated the challenges of online classes with not being able to experience actual classroom activities. This might also explain why some interns were looking forward to experiencing the actual or hands-on tasks of a librarian even on an online set-up which they were not able to fully experience in their online classes.

Overall, the interns expected to gain knowledge on library operations and organization while building a positive relationship with their co-interns and receive guidance from supervising librarians. The competence of the librarians and the recognition of the library added optimistic expectations to the interns, reassuring great learning experience from hands-on tasks. Meeting these expectations is crucial for a successful internship experience.

5.2. Preparations

Table 2 shows that 97% of the students were properly oriented with the policies, procedures, rules, services, and staff of the library. They were given instructions and details about the expected outputs and tasks that they shall accomplish in their internship. The interns considered proper orientation as their foremost integration into the library as part of the library workforce, even if temporary. The orientation introduced the tasks they will be doing virtually, therefore giving them an idea what resources, equipment, skills, and knowledge they should have to fully participate in the internship activities. There were also interns who took the initiative and browsed the library’s website beforehand to be familiar with the library.

Table 2. Library interns’ preparations (n=35)

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However, the interns admitted that they were not initially prepared for the internship. Only 34% of the interns had enough online and print resources that would help them study during the online practicum. The interns identified their Google accounts, Microsoft software, e-books, previous notes and handouts from other course work, as their supplementary learning resources to review basic librarianship concepts. Furthermore, only 31% of the interns said they have a planned strategy to employ to handle the tasks and workloads assigned to them. Some of them planned changes with their daily schedule and developed good study/work habits while some eyed multitasking and working with their classmates on the expected outputs.

In terms of their physical and emotional preparedness, only 26% of the interns expressed that they had the right physical and mental capacity to attend a virtual internship. Interns based their physical preparedness on their proximity to the library. Some interns rented boarding houses or stayed with relatives living near the school campus. Those who were staying in faraway residences had to find a place with a stable internet connection. Other interns were also anticipating restrictions to be lifted sooner so they would be ready to visit and do library work. Even if most interns knew it would not be possible for face-to-face internship, only a few interns claimed to be emotionally and mentally prepared for the online internship.

But despite online classes were being in place for a year already, interns were not yet prepared with a stable internet connection. Only a few interns were able to subscribe to internet plans to make sure they have a stable internet connection. The rest relied on mobile data and Wi-Fi hotspots to have access to the internet. Those with internet plans still need to secure extra budget to buy data in case their internet subscription fails. Additionally, only a few students had a prepared set of electronic devices to attend virtual classes and their internship. Some of them had to buy their own or borrow from their siblings, who were also using those laptops for work or school. Not all interns could afford these because only 6% had sufficient financial capacity to support their internship.

The findings revealed that only a few interns were initially prepared and had the right physical and mental capacity to attend a virtual internship. Fortunately, the majority of the interns had a proper orientation which they considered as their foremost integration into the library workforce. These findings suggest the need for better preparation and support for students and interns in the virtual setting, including providing more resources and guidance for online learning and improving access to stable internet and electronic devices.

5.3. Challenges

Table 3 shows that 40% of the interns faced personal issues and matters regarding their study habits. There were numerous distractions that pulled their interest and attention once they log in online. That is why 31% of the interns also experienced issues with procrastination and time management. They admitted procrastinating on most of the tasks, causing their schedules to get filled up with other personal priorities. Managing their time is the real challenge for them in this internship because people at home assume that online learning is easy; they were always sent to do errands. They also struggled with managing their time in dealing with requirements for other subjects they are enrolled in. That is the reason why 40% of them expressed that they had trouble balancing schoolwork and household responsibilities, making it difficult to concentrate on studying and doing the tasks assigned to them. Some needed to tend to their younger siblings left with them at home, or take care of their grandparents that needed assistance from time to time. They also added that these were not issues during face-to-face learning where it was easier to focus.

Table 3. Library interns’ challenges (n=35)

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Because all their tasks were done electronically online, they were affected by server shutdowns and other technical difficulties. Interns had trouble accessing the online platforms and websites of the library due to slow internet connections. The interns complained about connectivity issues affecting their participation in meetings and group discussions. Some would even struggle with following instructions during lectures that are being interrupted by fluctuating signals. Troubles accessing the online platforms and websites of the library were also due to incompatible and outdated electronic devices. There were also instances where students experienced power interruptions and system issues that impeded their accomplishment of their tasks. Interns experiencing this felt helpless because there was nothing they could do but to wait.

Technical problems were not the only challenge faced by the interns because 29% of the interns experienced stress, anxiety, depression, and burnout in managing the tasks and activities. They attributed this stress to the delayed workload caused by procrastination as well as the server/system maintenance that halted their technical and cataloging work. The health and medical issues faced by the interns were also notable. There were interns with households infected by the virus, which also affected their day-to-day activities, preventing them from going out and getting essentials.

These findings show that a significant percentage of interns faced personal issues and difficulties with managing their time and procrastination. The interns also had challenges with technical difficulties, slow internet connections, outdated electronic devices, and power interruptions. In addition, some interns experienced stress, anxiety, depression, and burnout while managing the tasks and activities. Communication and responsiveness among co-interns were also problematic due to poor internet connections, causing delayed receipt of messages and instructions. The health and medical issues faced by some interns due to the pandemic were also notable. In conclusion, the virtual setting of internships presents unique challenges that must be addressed to provide better learning experience for students and interns, including providing more resources needed to deal with the challenges and problems in a virtual internship.

5.4. Coping Strategies

Table 4 shows that 34% of the interns preferred taking a break from schoolwork and household chores. Some of them went home to their province to “enjoy natural life” and “have some fresh air.” Some played games to relieve stress. Some interns found relief from listening to music and reading fantasy or fiction books to escape their stressful reality. For some, they found gardening in particular as something therapeutic. Besides doing nothing or doing something aside from the required tasks, interns also diverted their attention to several physical activities such as exercising, reorganizing their study area, eating, hiking, or going to part time jobs to help them relieve from school and household responsibilities. Interns also claimed that eating helped them reduce stress. Some were also able to cope with the situation by keeping themselves active physically, such as bicycling, because it relieves stress.

Table 4. Library interns’ coping strategies (n=35)

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There were also coping strategies where students faced challenges or problems head on. There were 29% of the interns who stated that they asked for assistance or help on difficult tasks to overcome or alleviate the problem they encountered. Some interns recalled how they were seeking help and guidance from co-interns, supervisors, librarians, and other teachers in handling problems with their internship. Some of them remembered how their co-interns were the ones providing updates on the activities they forgot to do or to finish. Similarly, 29% of interns worked on their individual problems by simply managing and reorganizing their schedule. They allotted a day or time per activity so they could eventually finish their tasks. They cleared out their schedule by accomplishing one task at a time, instead of trying to accomplish multiple things in one time. Another strategy was to identify first the importance or urgency of the task then identify among pending tasks which should be prioritized.

It was also found that very few students were able to maximize spiritual activities and self-motivation as a coping strategy. One of the interns said that “prayer helps in all kinds of situations.” Some interns also found a way to motivate themselves and to wake their senses whenever they were feeling nervous or losing enthusiasm in starting tasks. Some relied on self-motivation to continue studying and eventually finish the degree.

The study found that interns have different coping strategies to deal with stress during their internship. Most of the interns preferred taking a break or diverting their attention, while some preferred seeking help, or doing spiritual and motivating activities. Overall, there were various coping strategies that interns used to manage stress during their internship. It is important for interns to identify which coping strategies work best for them and integrate these strategies into their daily routine to promote well-being and productivity. Employers and educational institutions can also provide support and resources to help interns cope with stress and promote a positive internship experience.

5.5. Opportunities

Table 5 shows that 63% of the students were able to have a chance to learn and experience actual digital library work despite their internship being online. This is because they were given access to the library management system. They were given access to the software used in cataloging and book listing, which allowed them to experience technical tasks at their homes. Interns also considered it an opportunity to gain access to the library system to learn Machine Readable Cataloging tagging, which they were not able to learn because of the pandemic. That is why 51% of the interns considered it an opportunity to be able to explore and navigate the library portal remotely and learn how to work with library management software (LMS) online. It was also a chance to increase their ICT skills, especially using computers, software, websites, and databases. Because of the activities involving the system, their cataloging skills improved. Some of them attested that had it not been conducted online, they would not become experts in using computers at this time.

Table 5. Library interns’ opportunities (n=35)

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More than half of the interns stated that their internship was a learning opportunity for them to improve various skills and competencies, such as time management, and organization skills which resulted in improving the quality of their work. Besides the opportunity to experience remote working tools and technologies, they were also able to enhance their time management and communication skills during the internship. Some of the interns stated that time management skills were tested and refined due to the challenges in keeping their schedule balanced. They also said that the activities were able to enhance their technical skills a little bit better.

It is also notable that interns were able to help in household chores, do part-time jobs, start new hobbies, and save expenses despite a small percentage of interns acknowledged these opportunities. Some of them were very positive that they were able to help with household chores or their family business while attending online classes. Some interns were thankful that they were able to apply for a part time job and help with their expenses and school requirements. Aside from earning opportunities, online internships saved money and time, unlike traditional internships where students had to commute to physically report. It also lessened their usual expenses because instead of renting boarding houses, they could stay at home and do their schooling. Some of them also found time to indulge in new hobbies because of the online setup.

The study found that despite the internship being conducted online, most of the interns were still able to learn and experience actual digital library work through their access to the library management system and software used in cataloging and book listing. The online format also provided an opportunity for interns to increase their ICT skills and learn how to work with the LMS remotely. Additionally, the internship was found to be a valuable learning experience for the students to improve their time management and organization skills, as well as their technical and communication skills.

The online format of the internship provided some unexpected benefits, such as the ability to help with household chores or family businesses, apply for part-time jobs, and explore new hobbies. Furthermore, it saved resources for the interns by eliminating the need for commuting and accommodation expenses. Overall, the study found that online internships could provide valuable learning opportunities and benefits for students, even during the pandemic.

5.6. Realizations

Table 6 shows that a majority of the students became more self-aware when it comes to their capabilities and limitations. There were 74% of the interns who realized what they can and cannot do. The students realized which aspect of their skills and knowledge needs enhancement and improvement. They admitted they needed to improve their time management and to lessen their time spent on unimportant things, such as social media. They realized that they also needed to become more confident with their skills. Some interns also admitted that they needed to work on their communication skills and cooperation with other interns. Some of them also recognized their lack of knowledge on the theories they did not encounter and skills they were not able to practice in their online classes.

Table 6. Library interns’ realizations (n=35)

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Nearly half of the interns have also realized how hard and important a librarian’s job is. They were able to witness librarians’ actual challenges and at the same time the significant contribution of librarians to the community they serve. The interns’ exposure to actual library work led interns to realize how difficult it is to work as a librarian, especially on an online set-up. Some realized that they needed to multitask and be patient in performing their tasks and functions as librarians in the future. At the same time, they were able to realize that there is a large quantity of knowledge and skills that a librarian must have. They have learned that a librarian must possess knowledge and skills in different fields on information resources and technologies, to efficiently provide the information services needed by clients. Some of them realized that there are many things they have not learned or known yet, and that they must exert effort to learn about those things.

Another reason why interns realized how hard library work is, is because they witnessed the difference of theories and principles as compared with actual and practical applications. Among the interns, 43% realized the difference between theories and principles compared to the actual and practical application of library and information concepts. They were able to compare and see what is ideal and what is being done in reality; and that it is more complicated. They came to understand that the real duties of librarians vastly differed from the way they were being taught in the classroom.

Many of the students realized their capabilities and limitations, including the need to improve their time management, communication skills, and technical knowledge. Additionally, nearly half of the interns acknowledged the challenging nature of a librarian’s job and the importance of possessing a diverse set of skills in different fields of information resources and technologies. Furthermore, the interns’ exposure to actual work challenges and the difference between theories and practical applications in the library setting contributed to their realization of the complexity and difficulty of library work. These show that online internships can help students gain a better understanding of the profession and the skills required for practice.


6.1. Expectations

Most of the students expected to gain knowledge and skills on the operation, services, organization, roles, and responsibilities of librarians, and new ICTs. They also had high expectations on the cooperation and support that their fellow interns would give them during their internship. It is important for interns to express their expectations for them to have a basis for determining their success after the internship. The more accurate their perception or expectation towards the organization, the more successful they may become in their internship (Knouse & Fontenot, 2008). According to Basow and Byrne (1992), supervisors may help interns learn what to expect from their internship through sharing reports from previous interns. The orientations can also provide details for students to formulate their expectations towards their internship. Knouse and Fontenot (2008) also added that internships help interns create a set of realistic expectations for work. On the other hand, Ruhanen et al. (2013) also emphasized that clear articulation of expectations to students mitigates the negative consequences of less structured programs. This means that both expectations of students and supervisors should be discussed to help define the internship.

Interns, when faced with uncertainties and profound expectations confronting the expected internship, do have varied assumptions on how it will proceed, especially when restrictions are still part of the equation. The high expectation goes well with what they have seen, heard, or even experienced from previous small exposures aligned to their academic courses. It can also be due to the rigid orientation as to what is expected of them as interns; also, to a certain level, because BSU Library and Information Services is one of the more excellent research and academic libraries. Its awards were also cited by the interns as one of the reasons why they were delighted to be deployed at the library. Similarly, Yoo and Pang (2007) found among culinary arts interns’ expectations that the social image of the hotels provided a major contribution to the internship expectation.

6.2. Preparations

A majority of the students were not prepared mentally and physically. They admitted they were still hoping for a face-to-face internship since not all of them have the capacity for an online internship such as an internet connection, computers, and devices. They also admitted to having a lack of online and print resources as well as the necessary knowledge and skills regarding library internship. They also lack emotional stability, support, and financial capacity that would help them survive their virtual internship. A study revealed that, especially during the pandemic, many students suffered from high levels of anxiety, depression, and distress (Essadek & Rabeyron, 2020). University students, which includes interns on their final course requirement, are vulnerable to various mental health concerns (Kaparounaki et al., 2020). Thakur (2020) stated that the quarantines, trauma, grief during COVID-19, and the lack of adequate support systems further increased the risk of mental health problems among adolescents.

However, the unpreparedness among interns was compensated for by the preparations they made because of the orientation. The interns regarded the internship orientation as a way for them to be prepared for the whole internship. As recommended by Park and Jones (2021), there should be orientations for internship that include working conditions and expectations for virtual internships. This goes back to the goal of internship orientations in preparing students for what to expect and not to expect. Supervisors must help their interns state their learning goals for them to realize what they must contribute and what they would like to learn in return (Basow & Byrne, 1992). Interns’ uncertainty regarding virtual internship should be clarified during internship orientation. This allows interns to have a clear picture of the organization they shall be working with, which is a predictor of their success for the internship (Knouse & Fontenot, 2008).

Virtual internship as part of a career program requires increased planning and consideration by both interns and supervisors, but they can still be a great way to gain skills and make connections. Being unprepared is a struggle, especially for unexpected virtual internship programs. This might be coupled with the feeling of incompetence and the false hope of having hands-on internships.

6.3. Challenges

The interns dealt with personal issues, especially regarding their study habits. Some experience being easily distracted and eventually procrastinating and struggling to manage their time. Interns also have trouble in balancing schools work and household responsibilities. Although these individual and personal issues would still be present in traditional internships (Ruggiero & Boehm, 2016), the interns attributed these personal issues to the distractions they encounter online. Kostaki and Karayianni (2022) also discovered that during online and distance learning, students generally find it difficult to concentrate due to cellphones, social media, and all-day screen time. Hollis and Was (2016) also discovered that mind wandering, and social media distractions affect students’ performance in online learning.

Other problems faced by interns were due to technical and technological issues, such as poor internet connections, server shutdowns, incompatible electronic devices, and power interruptions. The interns claim that these technical and technological issues impeded them from finishing their outputs properly and affected the quality of their work. These were also the same issues revealed by Kostaki and Karayianni (2022), that students dealing with a slow internet connection and disruptions on the communication platform causes them trouble in hearing their teacher. The same applied for the interns, where technical issues caused communication failure, especially in meetings where task instructions were given by their supervisors. Besides their instructors and supervisors, interns also experienced difficulty in working with others due to poor internet connections. Chen et al. (2020) confirms that technological difficulties impede development of group relationships and interaction with each other. In other words, technical difficulties hindered students’ learning and participation in the tasks and activities (Kostaki & Karayianni, 2022). The internship needs to emphasize collaboration and cooperation among students, not competition, focusing on what can be achieved through collaborative learning and achievement. Maintaining smooth communication supports collaborative learning and achievement, especially in virtual internships.

Consequently, these technical problems are also causing stress, anxiety, depression, and burnout in managing the tasks and activities. Although students admitted procrastinating and delaying their work, their stress is aggravated by the slow signal whenever instructions and demonstrations were given during virtual meetings. This affects their reception of instructions, rules, policies, procedures, and guidelines of the library. The continuous logging on and off due to internet connection issues can pose serious issues that make interns unable to understand and communicate well (Chen et al., 2020). But on the brighter side, very few students dealt with medical problems related to COVID-19 because of the strict implementation of lockdowns. Because of the virtual internship, the interns did not need to go out, which might possibly result in getting infected. However, Kostaki and Karayianni (2022) reported that students’ eye health was affected because of staring at their screens for too many hours. Fortunately, no students reported such challenges and other ergonomic issues.

6.4. Coping Strategies

The interns employed numerous strategies to cope with challenges during the internship. Most of the interns preferred taking a break by doing activities outside school, work, and household chores. These strategies were categorized by Ismail et al. (2020) as avoidance strategies to cope with challenges encountered. These were found to be moderately correlated with stress, anxiety, and depression. These active self-distractions or diversion of tasks were also categorized as avoidance coping strategies. The results show that most of the students’ strategies fall under avoidance, which is completely opposite with the result of Ismail et al. (2020) that avoidance is the least employed strategy by interns.

There were also interns who preferred dealing with the problems head on by asking for help or managing and reorganizing their schedule. This implies that there were interns who tried to personally adjust and find flexibility in the different activities related to their internship. For interns in the medical field, these problem-focused strategies were the most used and resulted in interns performing better (Ismail et al., 2020). For the case of library interns, problem-focus strategies were second to avoidance strategies.

The least employed strategies were emotion-focused strategies. Some relied on strengthening faith through spiritual activities while some relied on self-motivation through pushing or reminding themselves of what is at stake if they failed to come to their senses. This implies that only a few interns dealt with their problems through working out spiritual or motivational issues.

6.5. Opportunities

The chance to experience digital library work, and navigate library databases and systems despite the pandemic, were considered by the interns as an opportunity. They were privileged to learn and perform the tasks of librarians when services go online. This also provided an opportunity to learn, enhance, and improve their skills in ICT and other library technologies. Similar to the opportunities in virtual teaching internships, interns were also able to explore various technological resources and tools during their internship (Iradel et al., 2021). The interns were also able to maximize their access to the library system because they were also properly guided on how to use and navigate the database. According to Park and Jones (2021), the proficiency of the supervisors was deemed by interns as an important competency to supervise virtual internships. This means that supervisors must be technology savvy to better guide interns in using the system that the library uses. That is also why many of the interns in this study attested that they were guided and assisted in the totality of library operations. The provided access to the actual database used by the library was highly appreciated by the interns because it was an opportunity for developing cataloging skills and learning new technological skills. Iradel et al. (2021) also discovered that interns were grateful because virtual internship experiences provided opportunities for skill development and acquisition. The interns also viewed their internship as an opportunity to improve soft skills such as time management, and organization skills that help them in producing better outputs. Gill (2020) also highlighted that one of the key learnings in online internships is time management. These soft skills are also as important as the technical skills for the interns to develop. This can only mean that the virtual internship was still able to provide the necessary learning that traditional internships offer. As explained by Ruggiero and Boehm (2016), virtual internships offer the same benefits as traditional internships such as giving an opportunity to gain experience working in a virtual environment.

The interns were also able to maximize various opportunities during their internship such as helping with household chores, earning extra income from part-time jobs, starting new hobbies, and even lessening their expenses for travel and accommodation. Iradel et al. (2021) confirm these opportunities, stating that online teaching internships provide cost advantages enabling interns to save transportation expenses. Being able to work parttime and earn a salary while studying is also a plus factor for why the interns appreciated virtual internship. These are some of the issues in traditional internship that virtual internship addresses; the need to temporarily relocate to nearer residences, to travel long distances, or to take time off from the current jobs of the interns (Ruggiero & Boehm, 2016). These factors were also revealed by Kostaki and Karayianni (2022), that students have more time to rest and study with the time in commuting lessened in online learning.

6.6. Realizations

The virtual internship allowed students to reflect on themselves and discover their capabilities and limitations. Most specifically, the interns were able to realize their weak competencies needing improvement, such as time management, confidence, communication skills, and their ability to manage their tasks. Similarly, Iradel et al. (2021) also found that teaching interns have the same realization that there should be skills they have to improve, specifically behavioral and emotional self-regulation. Gill (2020) also found that one of the key learnings in students’ self-management of their workload is to have self-discipline. This really shows that online internships effectively allow students to reflect on their work and themselves. This is supported by work by Sweitzer and King (2019), which discussed that reflection is a key component of experiential education because it connects the field work to the learning. In fact, the National Society for Experiential Education (2022) identified reflection as an element that transforms simple experience to a learning experience. Sweitzer and King (2019) added that internships and other kinds of field instruction are a form of experiential learning where students can translate their classroom lectures into real workplace scenarios. Interns also realized their lack of technical knowledge and skills in librarianship which they were not able to learn in the classroom. This means that while the interns were lectured with theories and principles in the classroom, there should still be other trainings and orientations to prepare them for the challenges to be dealt with in real workplace scenarios. These were also the same realizations of teaching interns in the study of Iradel et al. (2021), that they think their three-year preparation for the teaching internship was insufficient and must be improved. This realization might also be attributed to the various challenges faced by student interns in their work, outputs, co-interns, and selves, which can only be discussed but not actually experienced inside the classroom.

That is also the reason why interns have learned the difference between theory and practical applications of librarianship. This coincides with the findings of Iradel et al. (2021), that internships provide students with several opportunities to apply what they have learned in class. Internships, indeed, bridge the theories they learn in their classroom into practice. Although a larger percentage of students stated that they were able to experience actual digital library work, not all interns were able to fully connect theory into practice due to the lack of hands-on activities which they will be physically experiencing when accomplishing their tasks in the library. As an effect, only a few students realized the importance of doing hands-on activities in their learning and development. This might also be the reason why only a few of the interns were able to learn how to work under pressure and deal with the challenges experienced in the workplace. The lack of hands-on activities made the internship less challenging. Plus, interns were working virtually in the comfort of their homes. Gill (2020) also found similar realizations from their respondents, that interns had a relaxed working environment. Adding to the fact that all work activities were digital or done online, students were not able to have physical interaction with the books and the library. Although they were able to experience challenges in the virtual internship, they might still be longing for the different challenges encountered in a face-to-face internship. It cannot be denied that there are interns that mentioned they learned how to handle the pressure and challenge faced in a virtual workplace and were positive that they could do it also in the future.

6.7. Internship Framework

This proposed model consists of three stages, namely: pre-internship preparation, internship process, and post-internship, which may find similarity with Sweitzer and King (2019)’s Developmental Stage Model of Internship and other internship models (Kiser, 2015; Woodside, 2017) (Fig. 1).

E1JSCH_2023_v11n3_58_f0001.png 이미지

Fig. 1. Internship model.

6.7.1. Pre-internship Preparation

Pre-internship preparation is an essential step for LIS students who are about to embark on an internship experience. This stage involves preparing for the internship before it begins. Activities in this stage include researching the company or organization, reviewing internship requirements, identifying learning goals, preparing a resume and cover letter, practicing interviewing, connecting with mentors or advisors, and preparing for the first day of the internship.

In a virtual internship, pre-internship preparation may involve additional steps such as ensuring that the intern has access to the necessary technology and software, setting up virtual communication tools, and clarifying expectations for remote work. The intern may also need to prepare a dedicated workspace and ensure they have a reliable internet connection.

In the model of Sweitzer and King (2019), students have things they look forward to, as well as things they are anxious about. That is why internship orientations are important onboarding activities for interns. This stage covers the first two stages of Kiser (2015)’s model, the preplacement and initiation stage. This model recognizes the behind-the-scenes preparations including making all parties involved aware of the program objectives. Besides preparing students with technical and technological concerns focused on the achievement of program objectives, as the study also revealed challenges experienced by virtual interns, this stage must also include mental state, time management, confidence, communication skills, and their ability to manage their tasks and so on. Diambra et al. (2004) recommended making a list of anticipated signs of stress and coping strategies.

6.7.2. Internship Process

The internship process typically involves several key steps that help ensure a successful and productive experience for both the intern and employer. This stage involves the actual internship experience. Activities in this stage include receiving regular feedback, developing new skills and knowledge, and behaving professionally while dealing with real workplace challenges in the library. Interns employ various coping strategies in this stage to overcome those challenges.

In a virtual internship, the intern may work remotely, which requires additional communication and collaboration skills to stay engaged and connected with the supervisor and colleagues. The intern may participate in virtual meetings, collaborate on shared documents and files, and communicate through email, instant messaging, or video conferencing.

Sweitzer and King (2019) identified the in-between stages exploration and competence in the developmental stage model. Woodside (2017) identified two stages as well, which are increasing participation and expanding skills. Kiser (2015) termed this as the working stage. All of these identified that this is where the bulk of internship activities are done. It is where interns engage in working, explore the workplace, and increase their participation with workmates or co-interns. This is also where they develop competencies and expand their skills. This calls for the need to develop training guides for librarians as well as learning resources that would benefit the supervising librarians and interns. As the study discovered the usefulness of scanned notes and information resources among interns, such references should be packaged with the interns as they are deployed to various libraries.

6.7.3. Post-internship

A post-internship activity is an important step for interns to reflect on their experience and to transition into their next phase of professional development. This stage occurs after the internship has ended and involves reflecting on the experience and transitioning to the next phase of professional development. Activities in this stage include debriefing with the supervisor, updating resumes and portfolios, reflecting on the experience, networking, and staying in touch, evaluating career goals, providing feedback, and expressing gratitude.

In a virtual internship, the post-internship stage may involve additional challenges such as ensuring that the intern has access to references and recommendations from the supervisor and colleagues, as well as finding ways to maintain connections with the company or organization after the internship has ended.

Woodside (2017) referred to the internship conclusion as the leave-taking of interns, which required an orderly transition of the roles and responsibilities that an intern assumed. Apart from assuring a smooth transition, Kiser (2015) emphasized that this final stage (termination stage) is a time for reflection that provides students with an ideal opportunity to examine and work on these patterns and skills. Quijano (2015) highlighted that reflection enables students to describe an ideal librarian and plan their career in LIS based on the LIS-related tasks they carried out and competencies they have acquired during the practicum. Sweitzer and King (2019) stated that the culmination stage required settlement of concerns to avoid a sabotaged perception towards their experience. In this study, the reflections helped students conduct self-assessment and an evaluation of the internship site and supervisors. In fact, there should also be assessment mechanisms for supervising librarians for them to reflect whether they have also contributed to the development of the professional and personal skills of the interns.


Interns expected to gain knowledge and skills on the operation, services, organization, roles and responsibilities of librarians, and new ICTs from the library and from librarians, regardless of the mode of their internship. Although they were not initially prepared, the orientation helped them identify what they should prepare, such as computers and a stable internet connection, as well as the necessary knowledge and skills for them to accomplish the tasks assigned to them. Challenges brought by procrastination were further aggravated by technical difficulties such as server shutdowns, slow internet connections, power interruptions, and incompatible devices. The interns employed avoidance strategies as coping mechanism or taking a break from school, work, and household responsibilities. The interns had an opportunity to learn and navigate the online digital system of the library despite the pandemic. They were given a chance to experience digital library work and develop the technical and soft skills needed for their future employment. Most importantly, the interns realized their capacity and reflected on which competencies need improvement. They were also able to realize the importance of the librarians’ job at the same time as the needed knowledge and skills to function as one. In conclusion, virtual internship can still offer the benefits of a traditional internship. Although virtual internships are no substitute for face-to-face internship, students still learned the necessary knowledge and skills of a librarian; experienced the challenges faced in an actual library and were provided with various opportunities and realizations

The proposed framework outlined various stages in an internship. Initially, the pre-internship stage is focused on establishing expectations and preparations for all parties involved. This stage involves setting objectives and conducting orientations. Next, the internship process involves interns expanding their skills and dealing with challenges encountered in a library workplace. Finally, the post-internship stage involves the translation of the entire experience into meaningful takeaways such as career opportunities and realizations. This stage includes assessments and feedback as closure for the program. While the model has not yet been tested and validated, this study aims to offer a comprehensive guide for the supervising instructor, supervising librarian, and library intern through these stages.


No potential conflict of interest relevant to this article was reported.



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