Erin Zybart wanted to increase her technology expertise and future career opportunities. She accomplished both goals by completing the Post-Master’s Certificate program at the School of Library and Information Science at San José State University (SJSU).
Zybart completed the fully online Post-Master’s Certificate in December 2013 and received a promotion just one month later.
Zybart followed the certificate program’s Digital Services career pathway, which focuses on the technical aspects of building digital platforms for users. Her studies included Information Technology Tools and Applications courses in XML, PHP, Drupal, and text and data mining.
As a senior records and information management (RIM) analyst for the Government of Alberta, Canada, Zybart’s job duties include designing records classification systems and writing records retention schedules. She also writes policies and procedures for information management.
Through her coursework in the certificate program, Zybart learned SQL and database design. These skills allowed her to develop customized records management databases in-house at virtually no cost.
“Government budgets being what they are everywhere, my employer was very happy,” she said. “This garnered me a lot of attention and a great reputation, which I then parlayed into my current role.”
She’s worked for the Government of Alberta for just over a year. Hired as a records coordinator, “which is a fancy title for a file clerk,” she was promoted to her current position in January 2014, just after completing the Post-Master’s Certificate program.
Earning the certificate taught her to “make effective use of the various technologies I have encountered in my professional life,” Zybart said. Citing the frequent overlap between information management and information technology, she added, “Being able to tread the line between these fields makes me both a bit of an oddity and a very valuable asset to my team.”
Because her current job is very project-based, Zybart is working to earn designation as a Certified Associate in Project Management. For at least the next five years, she wants to continue working her way up the career ladder in the government agency.
“After that, I would jump at the opportunity to work as an instructor at one of the local universities or colleges, as well as to work as a consultant,” she said. “The possibility of getting a PhD has also crossed my mind.”
After earning a master’s in library science, Zybart worked briefly as a library assistant for a law library before deciding to broaden her job search – a move that proved fortuitous. She enjoys working in RIM, where she finds there is plenty of room for her creativity and ambition.
“Initially, working in RIM was just a way to pay the bills, but I fell in love with the field,” she said. “I never would have stumbled into this career if I hadn’t taken a chance on a job without ‘librarian’ in the title.”
“Interestingly, after recent restructuring in the Government of Alberta, the government libraries now fall under the umbrella of information management,” she said. “I think this is an indication of the changing roles of libraries and librarians, so current students should be prepared for an MLIS degree to take them places that librarians might not have been found 10 years ago.”
She began the Post-Master’s Certificate program in fall 2012, taking one 3-credit course at a time except for the fall 2013 semester, when she took two courses. She worked full time during most of that period.
Zybart earned a bachelor’s in English from the University of Alberta in Edmonton. While working on her master’s in library science, she developed a strong interest in information technology and digital libraries, but the institution where she earned her graduate degree didn’t offer many technology-oriented courses, so she was eager to continue her studies in that area through the Post-Master’s Certificate program at the SJSU information school.
“Keep an open mind about the type of work you want to do and the sort of organization you want to work for. Be creative when looking for opportunities to make use of your skills. Be your own advocate -- many people will not understand the breadth of your skill set or what you can contribute to their organization, so it is up to you to educate them.”
“Know how a database works. Databases are the basis of many of the software tools you are likely to encounter, and you will be able to make much more effective use of them if you understand the basics of how they work. It doesn’t hurt to know a little SQL or to play with designing a simple database in Access, either. Also, XML seems to be popping up everywhere lately.
“Mostly, though, I would advise anyone working in information management-related positions to be aware of technology trends and to pursue any opportunities to learn new software programs or technological skills. There are lots of ways to keep learning, particularly online, and I have found that an open mind and an eagerness to learn are absolutely necessary to keep up with the rapidly changing environment we find ourselves in.”
“I keep up to date by reading the Governance and Recordkeeping Around the World Newsletter from Library and Archives Canada and various AIIM publications.”