iStudent Blog

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iStudent Blog

Students in all of our programs, as well as applicants, will find the iStudent Blog a gold mine. Written by a current student, this blog provides important information and resources and useful advice, including posts about courses, career pathways, online learning, time management, student groups, conferences, and financial aid.

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iStudent Blog

Eyes on the Prize: Charting Your Course Through School

Published: January 11, 2022 by Leslie Parry

The flexibility and efficiency of online education is what drew many of us to the San José State University School of Information in the first place. We have the ability to learn at our own pace, integrate our coursework into busy schedules, and choose from a multitude of superb classes. This autonomy, of course, also requires a certain amount of proactiveness and strategic thinking. That’s why planning ahead for a successful academic experience is so critical. Whether it’s choosing the right classes or preparing for graduation, the iSchool has dozens of resources to help you get organized and stay informed. I talked to Sheila Gurtu, student outreach specialist, as well as to recent graduates about everything from time management to e-Port prep. Here are some ideas to help you flourish.

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MLIS Career Pathways: A Look at Academic Librarianship

Published: November 17, 2021 by Leslie Parry

Last month the iSchool Student Services team hosted a new Lunch and Learn Workshop as part of their ongoing series on MLIS pathways. The topic was academic librarianship and featured School of Information faculty members Dr. Deborah Hicks, Alison Johnson and Dr. Linda Main. What makes this pathway unique? As Taryn Reiner, student support specialist, explains, “Academic libraries are found in institutions of higher education – in community colleges, private colleges, major universities or specialized research institutes.” They employ about 26,000 professional librarians and account for 48 percent of the positions analyzed in the most recent MLIS Skills at Work report. The roles and responsibilities of academic librarians are diverse; they include instruction, research support, project management, technical services, reference and outreach. Over the course of the hour-long program, the panel shared their thoughts on the classes, skillsets and experiences that can best prepare students for work in this field. 

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Spotlight on: VCARA

Published: November 2, 2021 by Leslie Parry

For students interested in virtual worlds and virtual reality, the School of Information group VCARA (Virtual Center for Archives Records and Administration) provides a host of opportunities to build, explore and network in virtual environments. These skills will be critical in the future, says Bethany Winslow, director of online learning, especially in the fields of LIS and education. Unlike other student groups, VCARA is a community that meets entirely in-world — no Zoom calls or teleconferencing. With opportunities to explore different platforms, attend conferences and events, and meet educators, builders and librarians around the globe, it’s an ideal community for students interested in emerging technologies and their potential uses. I spoke with Winslow about the history and future of this exciting organization.

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Attending Professional Conferences as a Student

Published: October 25, 2021 by Leslie Parry

I recently attended my first professional association conference as a San José State University School of Information student. I’ll admit I was a little apprehensive. Would I be out of my depth? Would there be other attendees like me – students, newly arrived to the profession – and would our curiosity be welcome in lieu of experience? Thankfully, the Special Libraries Association Annual Conference (held virtually in August) helped relieve some of my impostor syndrome. I attended fascinating programs, met multidisciplinary professionals around the world and participated in fun icebreakers from the comfort of my living room. 

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Why Join a Student Group?

Published: September 17, 2021 by Leslie Parry

Student groups are a cornerstone of the San José State University School of Information. They offer professional connections, personal camaraderie and the chance to hone valuable skills outside of the curriculum, particularly in the areas of leadership and communication. So what does it mean to take part in one of these groups? What opportunities do they offer at the iSchool and beyond? These were a few of the questions posed at the Fall Student Group Meet & Greet, which featured the American Library Association (ALA), Society of American Archivists (SAA), Special Libraries Association (SLA), REFORMA and ASIS&T student chapters, as well as the Student Research Journal, the First Generation Student Group and VCARA. Over the course of the presentation each organization had the opportunity to introduce themselves, talk about the benefits and responsibilities of student group involvement, and connect with potential new members. Read on for a lightning round introduction to these award-winning organizations. (You can also view the entire presentation on the ALA student chapter’s YouTube channel). 

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The SJSU Writing Center: An iSchool Student’s Secret Weapon

Published: September 2, 2021 by Leslie Parry

Fall semester is finally here! Whether you’re just beginning INFO 200, preparing your e-Portfolio, or simply trying to recover your student brain after summer vacation, you’ll likely be tackling some major assignments in the coming months (or – gulp – weeks). Need help with a research paper? Want a refresher on citations or abstracts? Can’t be sure whether to use “who” or “whom”? The San José State University Writing Center offers a host of excellent free services – and a number are designed specifically for graduate students. From tutoring to live-chat sessions, how-to videos and handouts, the Writing Center can help you navigate the complexities of academic writing (or just master the nuts and bolts). Writing skills will be an asset in school and beyond, so there’s never a wrong time to reach out. I spoke with Michelle Hager, Director of the SJSU Writing Center, about the most useful resources for School of Information students.

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MLIS Career Pathways: A Look at Information Intermediation and Instruction

Published: August 12, 2021 by Leslie Parry

If you haven’t yet attended a session, be sure to check out the iSchool Student Services Lunch and Learn webinar series. These virtual chats, held live over Zoom, give students a chance to interact with the Student Services team, ask the faculty burning questions, and learn more about opportunities for success at the San José State University School of Information. Of particular note are the webinars exploring different MLIS career pathways. Most recently the featured pathway was Information Intermediation and Instruction. Panelists included faculty members Dr. José Aguiñaga, Dr. Lili Luo, and Director of Online Learning Bethany Winslow. As Sheila Gurtu, the webcast host and Student Outreach Specialist, explains, this pathway prepares students for careers in reference services, instructional design and related information settings. Among the topics discussed were essential skills, recommended coursework and potential professions. Read on for highlights from this excellent discussion.

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Building Your Professional Network as an iSchool Student

Published: July 27, 2021 by Leslie Parry

Kim Dority, the iSchool Student and Alumni Career Advisor, recently gave an insightful presentation about an essential (if occasionally dreaded) topic: “How to Build Your Professional Network (Without Feeling Weird About It).” To some people, the idea of networking can be exciting and invigorating; to others, awkward and stressful. No matter if you’re an extrovert or an introvert, a graduate student or a seasoned librarian, network-building is core to the profession. But don’t let your anxiety get the better of you. As Dority describes, it’s not about schmoozing or having transactional, superficial relationships; it is about growth, connection, and helping your colleagues and friends. “Building a valuable, sustainable network is a long-term play that involves creating genuine relationships of mutual benefit,” she says.

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New Graduates Reflect on Their Time in the iSchool

Published: June 14, 2021 by Leslie Parry

Congratulations to the Class of 2021! A virtual convocation was held to honor the School of Information’s newest graduates. The recorded event, which can be viewed here, featured excellent speeches by Debbie Faires, recipient of the 2021 Distinguished Service Award, Dr. Patricia Franks, recipient of the 2021 Outstanding Professor Award, and Samantha Hamilton, recipient of the 2021 Haycock Award, who spoke eloquently about the intersection of information science and environmental sustainability.

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Get a Jump-Start With Summer Opportunities

Published: May 26, 2021 by Leslie Parry

The end of the semester is here! For months we’ve been rearranging our lives and work around the pandemic, keeping up with our studies, and waiting for the light at the end of the tunnel. Now it’s time to take a break and celebrate! For those who are looking to keep up momentum during the summer, there are plenty of ways to stay engaged. From summer classes to networking opportunities to simply getting organized, here are ideas for enhancing your iSchool experience over summer break.

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WISE Up!: The Lowdown on Taking Classes Outside SJSU

Published: May 20, 2021 by Leslie Parry

Students at the San José State University School of Information have a unique opportunity to take classes at other ALA-accredited institutions through WISE (Web-based Information Science Education), The WISE consortium is made up of twelve colleges and universities, who offer remote, for-credit classes to students of member schools. Want to take Social Justice in Youth Literature at the University of Illinois? Games in Libraries at Queens College? iSchool students who have met the prerequisites can enroll in a WISE class by completing the Course Request Application form and registering for INFO 298. I spoke with Debbie Faires, Director of Online Learning, about the benefits of this notable program. 

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Earning a Digital Assets Certificate as a Master’s Student

Published: May 4, 2021 by Leslie Parry

If you’re enrolled in the MLIS or MARA program at San José State University, you have the opportunity to earn an Advanced Certificate in Strategic Management of Digital Assets and Services in addition to your master’s degree. Best of all, you can complete the coursework at no additional cost and without extending your time in graduate school. Three different certificate pathways are available, and the nine required units can all be drawn from Special Session electives. 

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iSchool Alumni on the e-Portfolio: What I Wish I Had Known

Published: April 13, 2021 by Leslie Parry

Three recent graduates of the San José State University School of Information joined the ASIS&T Student Chapter to discuss “What I Wish I Had Known.” Now that they’re entering or established in the workforce, the alumni shared their wisdom with current iSchool students, discussing everything from course work to career paths. One of the main topics of conversation, unsurprisingly, was the e-Portfolio. While the alumni stressed three major points – plan ahead, don’t procrastinate, and get peer support – they also delved into the finer details. Below is their expert advice for tackling the biggest project in graduate school. 

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The Art of Self-Promotion

Published: March 31, 2021 by Leslie Parry

Networking and self-promotion can be challenging enough in a regular environment, but how do you excel at either during a pandemic? How can you make yourself indispensable during a time of unrelenting change? At a recent event hosted by the Special Libraries Association student chapter, School of Information alumna Tess McCarthy (MLIS ’12) explained how students can use this unprecedented time to their advantage. As a digital asset management systems librarian and self-described career transitionist, McCarthy shared her own professional trajectory, including the many ways she had to get creative in the COVID era. Here are her methods for positioning yourself well for professional advancement, even during quarantine.

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“Ask Me Anything” with Dr. Linda Main

Published: March 15, 2021 by Leslie Parry

Dr. Linda Main, interim director of the San José State University School of Information, met with iSchool students earlier this month for an insightful “Ask Me Anything” session. These regular, informal meetups give students a chance to chat with the director and ask about anything from career paths to iSchool resources to the LIS world at large. Below are just a few of the questions Dr. Main fielded. To view the full Q&A, click here.

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Tips for Staying Focused and Managing Your Time

Published: February 28, 2021 by Leslie Parry

While many of us may be finding it difficult to concentrate during this unprecedented time, graduate school remains a positive outlet for our intellectual and creative energies. The School of Information offers so many opportunities to apply our talents, strengthen our resolve and plan for a better future. So how do we put one foot in front of the other and keep distraction and procrastination at bay? Below are some resources, from academic assistance to online learning tools, that can help students stay disciplined and continue to flourish in a remote environment. 

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10 Ways to Build Career Opportunities as a Student

Published: February 7, 2021 by Leslie Parry

Last semester the San José State University Special Libraries Association student chapter presented “Building Career Opportunities in Graduate School,” a program featuring Kim Dority, career advisor at the School of Information. Dority, who is also the founder and president of Dority & Associates, an information strategy and content development company, gave a generous and insightful presentation about the ways in which iSchool students can start preparing for their future professions now. From keeping a journal to engaging professionals to practicing small talk, she says even small actions can make a big difference. It takes some planning, initiative and resourcefulness, but maximizing your time in graduate school will pay off in the end. Below are Dority’s top 10 tips for building career opportunities as an iSchool student.

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Making the Most of the King Library Resources

Published: January 29, 2021 by Leslie Parry

Whether you’re just beginning INFO 203 or conducting intensive research for a seminar, the Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Library at San José State University has the resources to help you succeed. It’s true that in an online program you may never get a chance to walk through the library doors, but that doesn’t mean you can’t take advantage of everything it offers. From one-on-one research support to specialized subject guides, students at the School of Information have access to a breadth of tools and services that are designed to support virtual learning. I spoke with Gareth Scott, library liaison, about the King Library resources he recommends most for iSchool students.

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Finding Hope and Gratitude in a Difficult Year

Published: January 4, 2021 by Leslie Parry

As I welcome a new year, I find myself a bit shell-shocked reflecting back on 2020. When 2020 began, I did not anticipate that I would spend most of the year sequestered at home with two squirrelly preschoolers, trying to juggle family, school and work in the same space, adapting to new routines and mourning old ones. Honestly, I felt 2020 was more about enduring rather than achieving. But my iSchool classes served as a kind of oasis during this time — a chance to connect with other minds, ponder the current role of information in society and focus my attention on meaningful work. While it’s been a challenge to find joy under the combined stresses of the pandemic and the election, as we enter into a new year, I’m also filled with gratitude that I simply made it through. So I asked fellow students at the San José State University School of Information: What did you become grateful for during 2020? What gives you hope in 2021? Here are what our fellow peers shared: 

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How to Find a Mentor in Graduate School

Published: November 30, 2020 by Leslie Parry

Enrolling in the San José State University School of Information is both a thrilling step and a daunting one. With so many pathways possible in the information science field – and any number of courses and specialties to choose from – how can you be sure you’re making the best decisions for your future career? Who can you turn to with your carefully considered ideas and random, panicked questions? Luckily, no matter your needs or interests, the iSchool can help you find a mentor. Whether they’re seasoned professionals, recent alumni or even senior students, mentors can offer anything from academic recommendations to career advice; they can suggest networking opportunities as well as skills to hone for your résumé. No matter if it’s a formal mentorship sponsored by a professional association or a more informal connection made through the iSchool – having a mentor is critical to professional growth. To find a mentorship opportunity that’s right for you, check out the resources below.