News and Advice from the SJSU iSchool Director
Dr. Sandra Hirsh shared the latest iSchool news during her recent biannual Director’s Forum presentation. She also shared advice for new students and current students.
I listened in on the one-hour presentation, and got to hear about all the great things that are happening at the iSchool, got curriculum updates, and listened to Dr. Hirsh’s top ‘Tips for Success.’ If you’re interested in hearing the presentation yourself, check out the Collaborate recording, or just read on for a recap of the highlights.
According to Hirsh, there have been several exciting changes this year at the SJSU School of Information, including a new school name. The degree names haven’t changed, but the new school name more accurately describes the variety of programs offered by the school.
Hirsh also highlighted some curriculum updates that may interest you as a new student (or applicant). For example, she discussed recent updates to the MLIS program’s core curriculum – the required classes you’ll take first as a new MLIS student. The school’s faculty recently redesigned LIBR 200, 202 and 204. According to Hirsh, the iSchool’s international advisory council appreciated the core course updates, which offer a “modern approach to preparing students for current and future information professions.”
Hirsh made note of the ways the school has unbundled the curriculum by offering more 1-unit and 2-unit courses and more classes in the intensive format, which allows students to complete 3-unit courses in less time. These changes were based, in part, on feedback from employers and professionals who felt that students should be better informed about a variety of topics. They were also introduced in response to student feedback, asking for even more flexibility in their elective choices.
Hirsh shared her excitement about the many awards received by the iSchool’s student chapters of professional associations, including the ALA Student Chapter who earned the 2014 Student Chapter of the Year Award from the American Library Association. She discussed her meeting with the leaders and faculty advisors of the school’s student chapters and learned more about their accomplishments and their plans for future events.
“I encourage you all to become involved in our school’s student groups and volunteer for leadership positions,” said Hirsh. “Becoming involved in student organizations is one of the best ways to get the most out of our school’s master’s programs and to gain experience and develop skills to use on the job. Employers look at and appreciate involvement in student groups, professional groups and additional learning opportunities.” And at our school, because the MLIS and MARA programs are offered exclusively online, the student chapters are virtual as well. You can get involved and take on leadership roles from anywhere.
During the Director’s Forum (about halfway into the recording), Dr. Hirsh gave us her top ‘Tips for Success.’ She highlighted the school’s Career Colloquia series, the Emerging Career Trends Report and Alumni Career Spotlights, which focus on what many iSchool alumni are doing since they’ve graduated. Some of these alumni are even available to answer your questions – another great resource to learn more about today’s career options for information professionals and expand your professional network.
Hirsh encouraged students to take advantage of as many of our school’s career development resources as possible, as early as you can,” Dr. Hirsh stressed. “It’s never too early to get started.”
During the presentation, Hirsh recommended doing an internship as well, saying that it’s worth the time to fit one into your schedule. When choosing an internship, she encouraged you to look outside your current work environment and job experience, and complete an internship in an area you might not otherwise get involved in. “An internship will expand your resume and give you skills that you may not acquire in your current job.”
Being a part of the MLIS or MARA program is so, so much more than completing your coursework and getting your degree. Additional involvement in professional and student organizations, research groups and internships all add depth and nuance to your graduate school experience as well as adding skills to your resume. The networking contacts that you gain are also invaluable as you look for job opportunities.
Overall, Hirsh encouraged students to take advantage of all the resources available at the iSchool and to be open-minded and think broadly about the skills you are building by trying different courses and volunteering. “Experiment, learn and try something new.”
Hirsh also mentioned that as a new iSchool student, you’re eligible for these free benefits: You can get a free one-year membership in a professional association (ALA, SLA, ASIST, or SAA) which is a fantastic way to build your professional networks and develop your career. You are also eligible for free software through the school, including Adobe Creative Cloud, Microsoft Office, and Sophos Antivirus software. When I heard this, I was ecstatic. I am a sucker for free, whether I need it or not, and as a student you can bet I need free software. Yay, hooray—free software!
During the director’s forum, Hirsh highlighted a few upcoming events. She was excited about the school’s first ever fully virtual Convocation coming up on May 16, 2015, which will feature a noteworthy guest speaker, as well as recognition for MLIS and MARA graduates.
What advice or news from this semester’s Director’s Forum is most interesting to you?