“There is a lot of flexibility in the program. You can study exactly what you want, or you can study a bunch of different things, and you're still going to come out with that quality MLIS degree to start your career.”
MLIS Graduate 2013
San Francisco, California
Without making the decision to attend the iSchool for her MLIS, Beth Atlas might not be where she is today, as senior coordinator for the San Francisco 49ers Museum at Levi’s Stadium. “Having the flexibility of an online MLIS allowed me to complete an internship that led me to my current position,” Atlas says. “If I had attended another school, I would have missed the opportunity to be a part of the developing museum program and the stadium when it happened. I wouldn’t be on the literal ground floor of the stadium where I am right now.” Once she started in the MLIS program, Atlas used the iSchool’s resources to consider volunteering at an archive, which led her to an internship and eventually to her current position. Doing all this concurrently with her MLIS course work allowed her to actively apply the principles she was learning with the work she was doing.
As part of the School of Information’s video series MLIS Alumni at Work, which highlights iSchool graduates in their workplaces, Atlas shared some of her experiences and responsibilities with the community.
Looking back, Atlas found the faculty at the iSchool, many of whom are active information professionals, to be a great positive to the program. “Whether they were five or 3,000 miles away from me,” Atlas says, “they were still able to translate their work, passion and knowledge into the courses I took in an online environment that not only fostered collaboration, but really allowed for people to grow as individuals and professionals.” Even though Atlas missed the traditional classroom setting a little when she first entered the iSchool, that changed quickly when she started digging into her classes and interacting with her diverse array of professors and fellow students.
According to Atlas, the future of the information profession looks bright. “I think there is a demand for people with an information background,” she says. “As more things move online and more information is born, the skillset you learn in an MLIS program is going to allow you to market yourself as the professional that big companies are looking for.” In addition, Atlas sees the connections created in the program between students, faculty and other members of the MLIS community as invaluable. “San José State does a great job of connecting people through [online and in-person] meet-ups and conference receptions [across the country].” The resources provided by the iSchool, including an internship database, also helped Atlas connect with those that would help her find a career.
Overall, Atlas’ time at SJSU helped shape her into the professional she wanted to be. “Anything I needed was adaptable and changeable,” she says. “The coursework was on your own, at your own pace, which was helpful.” The independence necessary for a program like the iSchool’s reflects well the independence required for jobs outside of the program, where time management, achieving set goals on your own and working on crucial projects with other people on wildly different schedules in different time zones are daily facts of life. With this experience behind her, Atlas felt ready to make tracks in a professional environment.