TCE Internship Fund Q&A: Rachele Merliss

Rachele Merliss

Internship Fund Recipient: Rachele Merliss

Major: Information Studies, School of Information
Internship: Out Youth Library

Meet An Intern: Rachele Merliss
Internships are indisputably valuable—they can help you discover new interests, network in
your chosen industry and better prepare you for life after graduation—but they don’t always
come with compensation. The University of Texas at Austin is committed to making sure
Longhorns of all financial situations can pursue the internships that will help them grow,
whether they’re paid or not. Hence, Texas Career Engagement (TCE)’s Internship Fund, which
launched in May 2021. Through this new program, currently enrolled graduate and
undergraduate UT students experiencing financial barriers to accepting unpaid internships can
apply for funding equivalent to a $15 hour wage.

In 2022, TCE awarded a total of $331,436 to 101 students participating in unpaid internships.
One of those students was Rachele Merliss, a graduate student in the School of Information.
Merliss, who will graduate later this year, spent Summer 2022 interning with Out Youth, an
Austin-based non-profit serving Central Texas LGBTQIA+ youth and their allies.

What was the focus of your internship?
I worked with Out Youth Library to add more user-friendly features to their library catalog.
These features add more possible routes through which users can find books to read. I loved
getting to think through the user experience of exploring Out Youth’s incredible collection. This
internship gave me the skills to understand library cataloging systems and tools, which I am so
excited to put to use in my future career.

Did this internship help you grow professionally?
This internship helped me gain a lot of confidence in the area of public librarianship that
previously made me the most nervous—the technology! Cataloging systems are vital to library
function, but before this internship, I had a lot more experience in the customer service side of
the job. Thanks to my work with Out Youth, I will enter my field with the skills I need to

How did being an Internship Fund recipient impact your experience?
The internship fund essentially turned a volunteer project into a temporary paid position. I was
able to devote much more time and energy to this important project because of the funding.
Programs like this one are so important—they make valuable career development accessible
and help local organizations who might not be able to pay interns themselves.

Ready to follow in Rachele’s footsteps? Applications for Summer 2023 internship funding will
open on Tuesday, March 21.