For Jeremy McLaughlin, program director and former chair of the student chapter of the Association for Information Science and Technology (ASIS&T) at the San José State University (SJSU) School of Information (iSchool), learning that the chapter had been named the organization’s Student Chapter of the Year for the second time in three years capped a year of exciting achievements.
In July 2014, McLaughlin was named an ASIS&T New Leader for his involvement with the chapter, and in September of this year his ASIS&T special interest group (SIG), Arts and Humanities, was named the ASIS&T SIG of the Year the same week that the SJSU ASIS&T student chapter received word of its award.
The Student Chapter of the Year award is a particularly meaningful honor for McLaughlin, as it reflects the hard work he and the other executive board members have put into building a successful and sustainable student group that provides career development and networking opportunities for all students at the iSchool.
“The executive committee focused on our internal management, as well as our events and communications,” explained McLaughlin. “They put in a ton of effort to document our processes for the year-to-year transitions in leadership, promoted our activities through hundreds of emails, list posts, tweets, and other social media, and collaborated with other SJSU student chapters and other organizations around ASIS&T.”
By working with other student chapters, McLaughlin and the rest of the ASIS&T student chapter executive committee were able to extend the reach of the student group and increase attendance at the many events sponsored by the group throughout the year. Recent events have included alumni presentations on course selection, the e-portfolio, and the job search; as well as webinars on grant writing, on LIS research methods, on copyright and digital technology, and on software and applications available to iSchool students.
McLaughlin credits the ASIS&T student chapter’s success to “the support of our student members, the SJSU iSchool, the various speakers at our events, and within ASIS&T,” and he is especially grateful for the support of Dr. Sandra Hirsh, iSchool director and ASIS&T student chapter faculty advisor, and Debbie Faires, iSchool director of online learning. “We would especially like to thank Sandy Hirsh and Debbie Faires for helping all of the student chapters and for recognizing the importance of associations to the iSchool experience,” stated McLaughlin. “Attending events and being active in a student chapter can have a huge impact on student success.”
Hirsh believes the successes of the iSchool’s student chapters speak to the drive and ingenuity of the school’s students. “In an entirely online program, it is essential to develop creative ways to connect with others in the profession, and we are very proud of the excellent job our student chapters have done supporting networking and professional development outside the classroom,” stated Hirsh. “The webinars, social hours, and other student chapter events help prepare students for success in information organizations of all kinds.”
In order to encourage students to get involved in professional organizations early in their careers, the iSchool provides all students in INFO 200 Information Communities with a complimentary one-year membership to either the American Library Association (ALA), the Special Libraries Association (SLA), the Society of American Archivists (SAA), or ASIS&T. “It is never too early to learn about the key issues and trends in the profession,” remarked Hirsh. “We encourage our students to learn more about the work of professional organizations in the field of information, and to explore all the opportunities provided by the iSchool’s student chapters.”
McLaughlin is already anticipating what the ASIS&T student chapter and the iSchool’s other student chapters of professional associations will accomplish this year. “We look forward to working with ALASC, SLASC, and SAASC and to seeing more new faces at our events in 2015-16,” he said.
According to ASIS&T, the purpose of the Student Chapter of the Year award is “to recognize outstanding student chapters for the participation in, and contributions to [ASIS&T] and the advancement of information science.” The award will be presented at the annual awards luncheon at the ASIS&T annual meeting in November 2015.