Cate Mahoney completed a GradFUTURES Summer Internship with Ithaka S+R in Summer 2019. Below, Cate describes her experiences in the program.
"I was very curious to see how the skills I’ve gained as an English doctoral student could translate outside of the academy, and ITHAKA S+R seemed like a wonderful new realm within higher ed culture that I didn’t know existed previously. I saw two Princeton English PhDs already working there (Colette and Meagan!) , and that made me feel like it could be a place for me too. I was hoping to gain practical skills in an office environment, of course, and to get used to working collaboratively with the team I was on, but more than that I wanted to understand this landscape that I wasn’t familiar with. Just learning about all the different roles people play in the organization, and how ITHAKA S+R works with universities, was enlightening.
My main project for the summer was to work on one of ITHAKA S+R’s Research Support Services Programs with the Modern Language Association (so right up my alley as an English grad!). This involved reading transcripts from interviews the ITHAKA S+R team designed and that participating university libraries and scholars conducted. I then learned how to do qualitative research for the first time, coding the interviews in NVivo (qualitative data analysis computer software). After reading through the 60 transcripts and organizing the data, I drafted the report that ITHAKA S+R will submit to the MLA. Other than this main project, I met with many of the other staff and supervisors within ITHAKA S+R for informational interviews, and I participating in staff meetings – including sharing my research for the rest of the team in a final presentation. My day was always full and pleasant, in the sunny office space on 32nd street.
First, I am very grateful to have learned how to do more qualitative research and to use some of its software programs—I feel like my technical language repertoire has expanded and I know I can use this in the future. Second of all, I really enjoyed checking in with my supervisors as my project moved forward, reviewing their edits of my report draft, and generally observing the workflow of the organization. It was a kind of collaboration I had not been a part of for a while as I’ve been working on my dissertation and my own research. Third, the concept of a workday that starts and 9 and ends at 5 was refreshing, frankly, and helped me adjust to new working rhythms.
I had two wonderful supervisors, Rebecca Springer and Danielle Cooper, who both guided my work and were really encouraging in showing me the ropes and explained what they expected from me very clearly. I always felt supported and like I was in a learning environment where I could ask questions and adjust to the new languages I was immersed in (not just in software, but in the landscape of scholarly communications and publications).
This experience was vital for my next steps—in fact, I extended my internship until December and I hope to remain closely tied with ITHAKA S+R in the future. I need to finish my dissertation this spring, but I feel like I’ve made great collogues and good friends with some of the people at ITHAKA, and will pursue these connections after I’ve completed my PhD."
"I just wish I had done this earlier in my graduate career, it would have made me feel experienced and ready as I wrap up. I’m so grateful to everyone who made this opportunity—and others—possible. It’s been a gift."