Resources for Finding a Graduate Summer Research Position

I wrote this for the University of Denver’s Office of Graduate Studies. I think it has some useful info to share with your graduate students. If you have any additional resources that should be included please let me know. 🙂 Resources for Finding a Graduate Summer Research Position


Tools for Creating Your Digital Portfolio


In today’s digital job market having a digital portfolio of your work makes it easier for you to stand out among the sea of plain resumes. Digital portfolios are not only useful for job seekers but also for professionals wanting to keep track of their work for their yearly review and for those seeking job advancement, tenure, etc. These handy electronic files are extremely useful and fairly easy to create (albeit a little time consuming, but totally worth it!). I have created a list of tools and tips for your eportfolio creation. If you have any suggestions please share in the comments below. 🙂

Information to Include:

  • Resume
  • Publication history
  • Writing samples
  • Images
  • Videos
  • Presentations (share w/ links)
  • Academic and Work history

Step 1: Gather Content

  • Save your material in a cloud storage (Dropbox, Skydrive, etc) folder. Saving in Dropbox (or any cloud storage) makes it easy to share links to supplemental material. For example: You don’t want to post your entire 30 page paper on a poststructural reading of Hawthorne’s Young Goodman Brown, but you could post the abstract/introduction, and include a link to the paper for those who want to read more. A digital portfolio is a visual sampling of your best work, and cloud storage makes it easy expand on those samples for those who are interested.

Step 2: Choose a Portfolio Builder

Website Version

This is just scratching the surface of free Website creators that are out there. I am currently using Wix. I like Wix for it’s ease of use and categorized template listings. I like Squarespace’s template selection a little more but didn’t find it as easy to use.

Step 2: Choose a Portfolio Builder

Infographic Version

Infographics can be used to include a portfolio portion combined w/ a resume (see my ex).

Step 2: Choose a Portfolio Builder

Blog Version

Although not specifically tailored for eportfolio creation, if you are already familiar with a particular blogging platform this could be a great option for you.



Step 3: Create Your Layout

Unlike a paper portfolio, eportfolios combine a design aspect, so it’s important to include aesthetic best practices. Here are some things to keep in mind when designing your portfolio:

  • Make it attractive and dynamic- Don’t go overboard on graphics or colors.
  • Utilize a clean design: good use of white space
  • Make sure it’s easy to navigate- In my example below I decided on top side navigation as well as repeat navigation using the circles in the middle and links at the bottom.


  • Link to additional content– Like I said earlier this is just a visual sampling of your work. I used a graphic and then provided a link so those interested could get more information.


  • Use images– The great thing about eportfolios is how wonderfully visual they can be. Here are some tips when using images:
    • Brendan W. Lowry has a great infographic on image color tips called The Eyes Have It.
    • Don’t forget about stock photos- Wix and other website platforms provide a bevy of awesome copyright free images you can use.
    • Don’t violate copyright. If you choose to use someone else’s images make sure you are not violating their legal rights. I like to search for free use images using the Creative Commons Image Search, Pixabay, and Raumrot. Also don’t forget to always give credit.

Computer Graphics Laboratory Makes Skype Interviews Much Easier


Geared up for my first interview post grad school, I donned my trusty business professional attire, put on my best (but not too eager) smile, and sat down at my laptop. I promptly launched Skype and commenced my digital interview. While I was interviewing I was frusterated by the fact that every time I tried to look at my interviewer’s face on the screen I had to avert my eyes from the camera, making it so I couldn’t look directly at him. I kept thinking “If only there was a camera in the middle of the screen so I could make eye contact! But alas that dream was an impossibility, but not any more. What was my misfortune doesn’t have to be yours thanks to gaze correction software by Computer Graphics Laboratory. This is made possible by “a face replacement algorithm that synthesizes a novel view of the subject’s face in which the gaze is correct and seamlessly transfers it into the original color image. This results in an image with no missing pixels or significant visual artifacts in which the subject makes eye contact” (CGL). The Skype plugin hasn’t been released yet but keep your eyes peeled for when it does. It will make Skype interviews a whole lot easier!

A Few Resume Tips for Job Seekers


It can be easy to get caught up in all the other demands that your job search requires that it can be easy to forget about the little things. Here is a list of little things that if done right could make big impacts when it comes to applying for a job.

Save Your Resume as a PDF

One of the best tips I received during my library residency was to save resumes as a pdf. Why? Well unfortunately if you save your file as a word doc your file might loose its original formatting due to different word processing programs or versions of Word. In reviewing applications for a library assistant position, I noticed the majority of resumes were submitted as a word document. When I opened them with Word 2013 many of them had skewed formatting with extra spaces and indentations which I’m sure the applicant did not intend to happen. To make sure your resume file retains its original formatting you can save your word doc (or OpenOffice or Pages file) as a pdf file.

Here’s how to save it using MS Word: When you save your document select pdf from the drop down menu under “save as type”:


Ditch the Career Objective

Trudy Steinfeld in “The Only Resume Advice You’ll Ever Need” (Forbes 6/6/2012) states that you should “let your experience, skills and results-driven descriptions make the case for you.” I agree, I always skip over this section and go directly to the sections that list skills and experiences. I also have removed this portion from my own personal resume.

Tailor Your Skill Set to the Specific Job You Are Applying For

I am always more interested in an applicant who seems genuinely interested in the specific position that I am hiring for. One way to convey that interest is to make sure the skills you list are specific to the job your applying for. You can find many of these skills in the job posting itself. You can also go into further detail about your specific skill set in your cover letter.

Use Consistent Verb Tenses

Use present tense verbs for your current position and past verb tense verbs for previous jobs you’ve had. For example I used “use” for my current position experience and “used” for my past position experience:

Reference Librarian
August 2011 to Present

• Provide reference service in person and by email, phone, and chat
• Provide research instruction to undergraduate, graduate, and doctoral students
• Evaluate and maintain serials
• Use Baker & Taylor, RCL and Choice for collection development
• Develop research guides and finding aids
• Serve as a liaison librarian to the education and English departments
• Manage student workers

Library Resident
February 2011 to May 2011

• Collaborated with librarians for library instruction in discipline specific classes
• Used Horizon ILS to support and provide reference services and catalog library materials
• Supported the online book sale using Alibris
• Used Baker & Taylor and several other resources for collection development

Name Drop Specific Software, Learning Management and Content Management Systems You’ve Used

If you’ve used Blackboard, Millennium, Horizon, Baker and Taylor, etc include that in your list of experiences. Librarians want to know that you are aware of and use the software programs that are used in their field.

Use a Creative File Name

Alison Doyle warns job seekers not to name their resume “resume” because it causes them to lose a “great opportunity to brand themselves (e.g. ‘John Doe – Quota Crusher’).” Creative file names can help you stand out in a sea of banal “resume.doc”s. If you can’t think of anything creative try using your name as the title.


Looking for a Job? Don’t Forget about Alumni Resources!

If you’re one of the millions who are on the hunt for a job it might be helpful to tap into you’re alma mater’s alumni resources. That’s what an alumni association is there for! Try doing a Google search for your university’s name and “alumni resources” or “alumni association.” Most universities provide help with job searching, resume review, and developing interviewing skills. Also look into attending alumni events. It is a great way to network. Recently moved away from where you graduated? No problem! Most large cities will have various programs/groups available. Many alumni associations have social media accounts that help you connect here are a few:

  • InCircle
  • LinkedIn 
  • Facebook
  • Twitter
  • Official blog

Here are a few services that alumni associations/career services offer:

  • Attend a career fair- these aren’t just for currently enrolled students
  • Resume review
  • Mock interviews
  • View current job postings
  • Attend sponsored meetups to network

Is a User Experience Librarian in Your Future?

Image credit: Daniel WĂĽrstl
Image credit: Daniel WĂĽrstl

In the library world information literacy (IL) is a major buzz word. It involves finding, gathering, and synthesizing information. Now, while IL instruction is definitely an important component to any library, it might be beneficial to use those same concepts within our own workflow as well. We talk about teaching others to organize and synthesize but often times we don’t organize and synthesize our own systems in such a way that users can efficiently retrieve information. A person can create excellent queries, but the query is only as good as the system (ex: library catalog). We need to be able to create and provide a system that supports the way users think. Trying to “bridge the gap between how information and knowledge are perceived, used, communicated and visualized by humans and how they are represented, stored, and managed with computer systems” (De Tre G. & Van Acker W., 2012, p. 305) is an ongoing problem.

ENTER…the User Experience Librarian! The user experience (UX) librarian bridges the gap between the back-end with the front end…the way computers organize data and the ways humans attempt to search for that data. User experience involves studying how users interact with a system and then creating that system to accommodate those users.  A UX designer is one who executes these actions. User experience is not a new concept. Most major companies employ user experience designers who attempt to harness the wild wild web and synthesize that data into an intuitive system that users want to use. They study user’s:

  • Personas
  • Past behavior
  • Time spent on a page
  • Interaction with a particular brand, etc

To determine

  • If something needs to be changed 
  • If the website properly addresses user needs, etc

They take in all that information and then design/tweak a system with the user in mind. The more intuitive the system, the more it will be used. Have you ever read a news article and had a suggestion for a related article? Or purchased a book and been offered related books? That’s a facet of user experience. But in order for those suggestions to be accurate you need to properly create a system on the back-end.

In the case of libraries it involves a person who both understands technology’s architecture and how users prefer to use that architecture. In relation to the library’s catalog it could involve:

  • Studying search functionality
  • The need to locally create discovery tools
  • Pagination study

Since librarians are better suited to understand library needs than say, a UX designer, a UX librarian might be helpful in your library. While dropping in at ER&L’s #ideadrop House I listened to Judy Siegel’s awesome discussion on UX and libraries during SXSI. She suggested a few ways that you can determine if your library has a culture that supports user experience design including:

  • Form a committee
  • Involve other departments and get feedback
  • Implement changes incrementally to determine what works and what doesn’t

Here is a great UX librarian job posting from the University of Virginia. I predict that there will be a lot more library job postings for this position in the future. Do some research and determine if this position might work in your library!

Source: De Tre G., & Van Acker W. (2012). Spaces of information modeling, action, and decision making. Library Trends, 61(2), 304–324.

**Update 8/21/2014: Here’s a new User Experience Librarian posting from the University of Arkansas

**Update 5/4/2017: Here’s a new User Experience Librarian posting from the Illinois Institute of Technology and one from Westfield State University


SXSWi Spots and Sessions for Librarians

Here is the list of all SXSWi events. There are so many sessions to attend and people to meet that it can be pretty overwhelming. When searching this extensive list try narrowing it down by theme such as:

I have listed a few spots and sessions that are great places to start. If you have any ideas please leave a comment!

#ideadrop House


Hosed by Electronic Resources and Libraries and ProQuest this is a must for any librarian attedning sxswi. This is a place where you can share ideas, attend sessions about digital librarianship, and network with your fellow colleagues! Attendance is free, click here to see the various sessions and speakers. Here is a list of just a few events:

  • SXSWi Kick off: Being Interactive @ Interactive
  • How to be Human Online
  • Social Media and Libraries

Librarian Meet Up

Free 3/10

Meet up with librarians who are attending sxsw, share ideas, network.

2013 SXSW Newbies Meet Up

The Mashable Variety Show

Must be a badge holder

Pete Cashmore will discuss the revolution of the Internet and what it means.  He will “explore how the world has grown and change due to the constant re-invention of the Internet through how marketing strategies have evolved, how news delivery has moved from your doorstep to your newsfeed, and how the Internet itself has gotten the world to reconnect through images, stories and sometimes, cats!” You will be sure to learn new methods for marketing your library, new ideas for to delivering digital content, and a better understanding of the ever changing digital stratosphere.


Must be a badge holder

Listen to educators who are focused on digital learning.

Digital Creative Job Market

Free, 3/7 & 3/8

Market your research talents to some cutting-edge employers.

SXSW Create

Free, 3/8-3/11

Are you a digital DIYer? Then this is a great place to collaborate! Even if you are not that tech savy this is a inspiring place to learn about new innovative tools and ideas. It could help you w/ your own library services or give you some awesome collection development ideas.

SXSW Librarian Guides

People/Groups to Follow on Twitter