As a grad student I've often found it challenging to find ways to apply the theory I've learned and gain practical experience in my field. This challenge motivated me to complete a practicum project during my final semester in the Master of Information Program at the University of Toronto. While I had a number of projects from which to choose, I decided on the DSU primarily because it allowed me to develop and demonstrate the digital skills that are in demand in my profession.
The project I signed up to complete involved helping the DSU migrate four collections of metadata from one access framework (CONTENdm) to another access framework (Islandora). While I initially thought this project would mostly consist of editing XML files and developing Drupal forms, I ended up doing far more interesting and complicated work than I had imagined. By the end of my practicum I had learned enough Python to script a small program to automate the creation of folders and the movement of files, had used Mogrify to batch edit hundreds of images using the command line, and learned more about XML namespaces than I thought possible. I also got the opportunity to work with the awesome staff at the DSU which would be worth it all on its own.
Looking back, my decision to complete a practicum project at the DSU was one of the smartest decisions I made while at the iSchool. I can directly credit this experience with landing a fulltime/permanent position in my field before graduation, as I was able to point to this practicum during job interviews as evidence of my technical ability and use my supervisor as a reference. Also, if you're interested you can check out some of work I did for the DSU on GitHub.