Exploring iSchool Career Pathways– Leadership and Management

iStudent Blog

Published: February 10, 2016 by Allison Randall Gatt

Are you a born leader? I’m not sure one knows at birth if they were born to leadership, but the iSchool has some great courses and outstanding professors who will help you become the leader you want to be.

Coursework in the MLIS Leadership and Management Career Pathway will develop your skills in areas of innovation, high-level networking, needs assessment, orchestration of resources, and the ability to scan the landscape for successful opportunities. Instructors Dr. Sue Alman and Dr. Cheryl Stenstrom, who teach many of the leadership courses at the iSchool, stress the importance of leaders being futurists—able to look ahead and know what kind of innovations will benefit their organization and have a plan to integrate these changes.

Leadership is Flexible and Innovative
The leadership career pathway web page recommends taking several courses for a good foundation, including one or more Info 282: Seminar in Library Management courses with various topics such as financial management, grant writing, human resources management, leadership, change management, project management advocacy, and marketing your skills in a networked world. Like all the iSchool’s career pathways, students can take specific courses to further shape their education in order to meet their career goals. Classes in the leadership career path also feature classes with emphases in social media, digital copyright and diversity issues in information environments.

The landscape of the information world is constantly changing, and it’s important for organization leaders to be ready to roll with the changes. This is, of course, where an iSchool education comes in. “Staffing and organizational models are becoming more flexible and innovative,” says Stenstrom, “giving all new graduates the chance to try out leadership roles in cutting-edge environments.”

Leadership positions can look very different according to what environment you work in, but all leaders need to know the best way to move their organization forward. “Leaders in the private sector often move more quickly and take greater risks than those in the private sector,” says Alman. “However, all leaders must also be futurists in the sense that they analyze the environment, are aware of emerging trends, and use forecasting techniques to ensure their organizations are relevant and on the cutting edge.”

Emerging job titles in the management field include data scientist, reporting analyst, digital strategist, innovation analyst, virtual assistant manager, disruptive innovation leader, geographic information systems (GIS) librarian, internet services librarian, and social media coordinator.

Depending on what environment you’re interested in, or perhaps the environment in which you’re already working, the career path guidelines recommend one of the following: 

  • Info 230: Issues in Academic Libraries
  • Info 231: Issues in Special Libraries and Information Centers
  • Info 232: Issues in Public Libraries
  • Info 233: School Library Media Centers

Alman and Stenstrom mention the differences between the public and private sector, though the essential skills of a leader remain the same and the iSchool courses will prepare you for a variety of jobs and job settings. “Leaders in private settings must continue to be at the fore in terms of technology and innovation,” the iSchool instructors explain, “whereas those leading the public sector may find themselves more focused on ensuring their organization is responsive to its communities’ needs in a general. This means leaders in the public sector require highly developed networking skills, though this is very important in the private sector as well.”

Valuable Skills for all iSchool Students
All iSchool students can benefit from sampling courses from the Leadership and Management Career Pathway, as leadership skills are important in any job. Alman and Stenstrom shared some of the exciting projects that students can look forward to in leadership and management courses, including reviewing planning documents for a university library in South Africa and working with librarians there to help guide them towards modern resources and services. “Students will also review and compare technology policies and practices in multiple countries to learn about internet and social media restrictions, privacy and cybersecurity issues, and factors that affect technology, such as infrastructure and cost,” says Alman.

Many projects have an international component, and like all iSchool courses, there are group projects—after all, it’s hard to be an effective manager if you don’t have teamwork skills. Stenstrom emphasizes the importance of teamwork more eloquently: “Navigating the intricacies of teamwork is an important part of developing strong leadership and management skills, so teams play perhaps a greater role in these courses than others.”

Students at the iSchool may not be born to leadership in the literal sense, but they can sure be strong leaders with great courses and mentors in the Leadership and Management Career Pathway.

For related readings on career pathways and other great offerings from the iSchool, be sure to read:
Master Your Skills with the Advanced Certificate in Strategic Management of Digital Assets and Services

Exploring iSchool Career Pathways– Web Programming and Information Architecture

Exploring iSchool Career Pathways– Information Intermediation

Building image courtesy of the University of Witwatersrand, South Africa Libguides

Illustration courtesy of sheelamohan