Cynthia Mari Orozco, Mover & Shaker
Three(!) San José State University School of Information graduates have been designated as “Movers & Shakers” by Library Journal for their awesome, transformative work in libraries. You can, and should, read all about it in the iSchool Alumni News.
I thought it would be a good opportunity to pick their brains and find out All the Answers in pursuit of career nirvana. First up is Cynthia Mari Orozco, who was honored for her work towards universal inclusion.
Was there any particular course that has helped you get a job or succeed at a job? Students are always looking for course recommendations!
I overall really enjoyed taking classes at SJSU. I wasn't sure that online education would work for me – I was intimidated by the format, not sure if I had the study skills necessary to stay on top of my work, etc. But I ended up really falling in love with online education, and I realized that there are ways in which to engage students online just as much, or perhaps more, than in in-person classrooms.
As someone who was pretty shy in class prior to SJSU, and as someone who likes to think things through before responding, I enjoyed the asynchronous nature of discussion boards. At the time, I wasn't that jazzed about group work in a lot of my classes, but looking back, I am SO thankful for the experience. The group work, as painful as it was sometimes, is very similar to being tasked with in-person or online committee work, so those skills have been some of the most helpful for me!
For specific classes, I really enjoyed my management class with Robert Boyd. His personality really shines through the LMS [learning management system, currently Canvas], and you can immediately tell he is a connected and engaging professor. I benefited from the group work we did in his class for the reasons previously mentioned, and I've used a lot of the skills I learned in this class in practical aspects of my professional work (e.g., SWOT analyses). A lot of times we think of management as something that is for higher level administrators and managers, but this class really helped me understand the skills needed to lead from the middle (or wherever you are).
The other class I really liked was my information literacy/instruction class with Michelle Simmons. I don't believe she's at SJSU anymore, but she is an incredible professor! If you're going into academic libraries, there's a good chance you'll need to teach. I didn't have a strong background in teaching, so this class was my first stab at teaching information literacy skills to students. I wasn't great at it, but I learned a lot.
Heck, my first year or two of teaching straight out of library school was pretty rough. But teaching effectively is something that takes a lot of practice, so I'm glad I was able to get in some practice and learn about information literacy instruction while I was still in library school. The most important class – and one of the most fun – was the internship I did through the iSchool. Practical experience is key when applying to jobs, and I was able to get a great public library internship through FILL at the Palos Verdes Library District.
What inspired you to get your MLIS? Have you found it useful/a good investment?
Libraries are my first professional career. Out of undergrad, I was a little lost, so I decided to pursue a Masters in Latin American Studies. My dad told me to just follow my passion and get a graduate degree that I would be interested in. I did my MA in Latin American Studies at San Diego State and tried to experience everything I could: classes that interested me, learning new languages, traveling all over Latin America.
The key moment in my path towards librarianship was when I had to attend library orientation. Even though I had experienced this as an undergrad, for some reason this particular library visit spoke to me. Later, while I was doing my library research, I realized I needed help from a librarian. I sat down with my subject specialist librarian, and she was extremely skilled at retrieving the information I needed, all while teaching me how to do it on my own.
So even though I had never actually worked in a library, from my positive experience as a graduate student, I decided to go for it. It has been a great investment. I really enjoy what I do, and I have had the good fortune to work in some really excellent libraries: public, private four-year, public four-year, and now community college.
The experiences have been varied, challenging, rewarding, and I get to learn new things every day. I'm continuing to build my skills as a librarian and constantly thinking about new ways to improve library resources and services. I couldn't be happier.
What is the best career advice you've gotten and/or what's your favorite career advice to give?
I think the best advice I've received is simply to be nice and be a team player. Be someone who others would want to work with. When you put yourself out in the library world or are applying for a job, people want to work with those they can envision in their institution, collaborate with, or just be around. Of course you need the skills and experience, but, ultimately, it has to be a good, symbiotic fit for all parties involved.
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