Life After the MLIS

Many graduates of the ALA-accredited Master of Library and Information Science (MLIS) program at the San José State University (SJSU) School of Information (iSchool) have exciting, inspiring stories to share as they venture into new careers as information professionals, or advance to new challenges with the help of the MLIS degree. From public libraries to corporate information centers, academic institutions and LIS consulting service organizations, working locally, virtually and abroad, creating programs that benefit communities and enhance the information profession — iSchool alumni are doing it all.

Information professionals can be found more and more outside the traditional library walls. iSchool alumnae Dolly Goulart and Whitni Watkins both found their passion in corporate librarianship after working in the public and academic sectors, respectively.

Qualcomm Library TeamGoulart is excited to be library director at Qualcomm, the major “connectivity company” she describes as “developing intellectual property that enables your wireless devices to communicate.” With her team of information professionals (pictured, left) including iSchool alumnus Greg Sorini, Goulart’s mission is to provide Qualcomm’s global employee population with the most up-to-date, thorough information possible. The team in fact thrives on assisting employees in being more knowledgeable so that they can better affect the company’s bottom line. “At the end of the day,” Goulart says, “our purpose is to make sure that employees, for whatever reason they come to us, are smarter and more informed when they’ve left us.”

Watkins is systems librarian for Analog Devices, working in a virtual library similar to the iSchool’s own online learning environment. “San José has prepared me for dealing with virtual anything,” Watkins says. “My [graduate] assistant work had me teaching faculty virtually all over the world in all aspects of technology, and that skill was 100% transferable.” She and Goulart join iSchool alumnus and current lecturer Scott Brown, Cybrarian at Oracle, in the corporate world. Brown found his niche after participating in an iSchool practicum at Sun Microsystems and now provides virtual information services for the tech giant. Brown, who teaches a course on how to market LIS skills, notes that the entire field is changing rapidly, making it more important for iSchool students to explore their options. “There's a lot of opportunity out there,” Brown notes.

And on the traditional libraries front, several iSchool alumni are shaping librarianship in the 21st century. A short five years after obtaining her MLIS, Tiffany Davis was promoted to Director of Branch Services for the St. Louis Public Libraries. She was also recently named an ALA Emerging Leader, due in part to her role in chairing her library's Diversity Committee and her work as a youth services librarian. She joins 2016 graduate Kayla Figard, who won the Ken Haycock Award for Exceptional Professional Promise for her outstanding work with teens in Belmont, California public libraries. Figard got her start working in libraries as a teen and is the creator of the Pacifica Teen Film Festival, a successful library-sponsored event that she continues to organize each year.

iSchool Spectrum Scholars Sylvia Aguiñaga and Melissa Solis enhance their communities with creative, engaging library programs. The scholarship, awarded to graduate students from traditionally underrepresented groups to encourage diversity in libraries, allowed both to attend ALA Annual, connect with their peers, and bring what they learned back to their work lives.

Based out of Los Angeles, California, Aguiñaga spreads her love of technology as director of curriculum for 9 Dots, “a collaborative of engineers and educators” dedicated to providing science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) programs to underserved children, and DIY Girls, a nonprofit that provides hands-on technology experiences for young girls.

Solis is a member of REFORMA, the ALA-affiliated national organization to promote library services to the Latino and Spanish-speaking community, and is actively involved with groups like the San Diego Council on Literacy, where she has developed a “community of practice” to continue learning from LIS peers and mentors. “I do think there's a foundational skill set that you learn in library school that can be directly applied to making things better,” Solis says.

Paula PereiraAnd when they couldn’t find just the right book to suit their information needs, alumnae Paula Pereira and R. Lynn Baker took matters into their own hands. Brazilian Pereira (pictured, right) wrote and illustrated How I Learned English: The Story of a Brave Mexican Girl to honor the experience of the English as Second Language (ESL) students she works with in academic libraries, and as an English language teaching tool. She gives motivational talks to immigrant and ESL students and describes How I Learned English as “the book I wish I’d read when I was an ESL student.”

Baker, youth services programming specialist at Kentucky’s Paul Sawyier Public Library, was not satisfied with the available books instructing librarians on how to connect storytime programming to kindergarten readiness. So while working and attending the iSchool she wrote Counting Down to Kindergarten: A Complete Guide to Creating a School Readiness Program for Your Community to rectify the situation. The book has been a success, thanks to Baker’s dedication and passion for children and literacy. “I love what I do,” she says, “And it’s so important for children. It’s been a really good experience, and so worthwhile.”

Alumna Linda Harper loves her job so much that she admits she might just do it for free. Harper was honored to be named the very first female director of the Hingham Public Library in Massachusetts. “When you talk about dream jobs,” she says, I couldn’t be happier!”

We invite you to learn more about our outstanding alumni by reading their community profiles and alumni career spotlights, which provide a glimpse into LIS workplaces and offer insights on the most valuable LIS skills for different jobs. If you're a graduate of the School of Information at San José State University, please create your alumni career spotlight and share your news!

It’s never too early to be thinking about life after the MLIS. With that in mind, Jill Klees, our school's career counselor, publishes a career newsletter and hosts a career blog—both excellent reads for current iSchool students and alumni.

And our school’s online Career Development resources are free for everyone to use. Choose which LIS career direction is right for you by exploring the Career Pathways, where you’ll learn about the information profession from traditional librarianship to digital services, archives and emerging technologies. Then when you’re ready to start or advance your career, check out the job listing sites and employment resources.

The iSchool provides abundant resources to help you discover your LIS passion and start the next phase of your career in information services. 

SJSU iSchool Alumni work at: Google, Library of Congress, Harvard Law, Credo Reference, USC and many more.