Completing My First Year at the iSchool

iStudent Blog

Published: June 22, 2023 by Kesheena Doctor

As I wrap up my first year at the iSchool, I have been reflecting on my graduate school journey and impending career as a librarian. There have been many changes in my life since I started school and it’s been a very busy year. I have been able to partake in many new experiences that I only recently have had the time to truly reflect on and appreciate. I’d like to share my thoughts of my first year at the iSchool with you.

iSchool Course Recap 

My greatest accomplishments this year were taking many iSchool courses and getting to interact with students and faculty. I learned so much in my first two semesters at the iSchool. When I started iSchool’s MLIS program, I had an extremely limited understanding of library concepts (for example, I didn’t know what metadata was). INFO 200 was a great introductory course into the many facets of Librarian Science and I got to revisit my undergraduate research skills when I wrote a research paper on the information-seeking habits of Native American college students. Though I found the coursework for INFO 202 to be difficult, I had a great group to work with the entire semester, which made it much easier to excel in the class. I took INFO 204 and INFO 210 with Dr. Ruphina Ozoh and had such a great experience building a student-teacher relationship over the course of two classes. I also took INFO 230 and the professor for that class, Dr. Maria Otero-Boisvert, was my academic advisor for the Academic Librarianship MLIS Career Pathway.

Reflecting on New Experiences  

This past year I got to experience many great and exciting things as a future librarian. I was awarded some very great scholarships for a new librarian, including the ARL Kaleidoscope Program scholarship. The ARL Kaleidoscope Program afforded me many opportunities that I wouldn’t not otherwise have been able to achieve including attending the Association of Research Libraries Leadership Symposium, working with a BIPOC mentor, as well as meeting my wonderful Kaleidoscope Program cohort.

With the aid of SJSU’s travel scholarship for current students, I also was able to attend ALA’s ACRL 2023 Conference in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, where I was able to meet many librarians actively working in the profession, including indigenous librarians. These experiences were very invaluable to me and better prepared me for what to expect as an academic librarian. Meeting and engaging with future peers were also very fulfilling and I felt more like a real librarian with each of these experiences.

Suggestions for Planning Your Academic Year 

While many iSchool students may take a few years to complete the program, since I had to finish the program in two years (due to scholarship obligations), I prepared for my time in graduate school as thoroughly as possible. One of the best tools I implemented was using planners. I had two types of planners; a primary planner for my entire time in graduate school, and a weekly planner to ensure I met all my due dates and obligations for the week.

For my graduate school, I wrote down everything; assignment due dates, meetings, conferences, webinars, iSchool student group meeting dates, and any other iSchool events I was interested in. I also made a section where I could recap my semesters and set goals for the following semester. When spring semester ended, I reviewed my goals for this year and realized I met all of them! Though the academic year was incredibly stressful, and I felt so exhausted at the end, reflecting on my goals and realizing I achieved them all was very satisfying and motivating.

Looking Towards My Final Year 

I am currently defining my goals for my final year and finalizing my course schedule for fall 2023, spring 2024, updating my files for my e-portfolio, looking into internships, and reviewing potential fellowships and residencies. I have more confidence in my understanding of library concepts, and I am focusing on filling any gaps in my résumé to have the best career e-portfolio when I start the job search. Currently, I have limited experience with archiving and metadata, and I am debating on either taking classes or obtaining an internship that would fill those gaps. However, my first-year experience as a graduate student has shown me that if I set clear, attainable goals, work hard, and be proactive, I will be more likely to be successful.

If you have any tips or suggestions on having a great academic year or would like to learn more about the topics mentioned above, please comment below.