SLIS Leaders and Students Share First Semester Tips

iStudent Blog

Did you miss the January 22, 2013 new student orientation session? If so, the recorded session is not to be missed. I loved hearing SLIS Director Dr. Sandra Hirsh, along with key faculty, administrators, and current students, share their personal experiences, advice, and tips about beginning the program.

You can view the new student orientation recording at your leisure or read the following highlights that I’ve captured here.

You are one of 2,000!

That’s right – as a new student you are one of 2,000 enrolled graduate students in SLIS programs! SLIS students represent almost every state in the country and over 17 countries around the globe. Just think of all the networking potential, which is something MLIS students Courtney Dunham and Adele Reid both mentioned as being a critical component of their SLIS experiences. Reid advised reaching out to your fellow students through group work and through the SLIS Facebook page.

100 electives for MLIS students!

It’s true. Of course you have to get through your core coursework before taking some of them, but once LIBR 200, 202, 203, 204, and in some cases LIBR 285 are under your belt, you can sample such specialized subjects as Crisis/Disaster Health Informatics and Spanish, French, or Chinese language classes, all of which offer students specialized skills for working in libraries and non-traditional settings.

Note that MARA students also have expanded elective options, including the opportunity to select three electives from the MLIS program. The MLIS electives can be taken any time after the first semester in the program.

Career Development resources at our fingertips!

In addition to all the career planning and job searching resources available on our website’s Career Development page, SLIS conducts an annual analysis of LIS jobs, and then presents findings in a report circulated to all students. This document is called LIS Careers: Emerging Trends and Titles, and you’ll get wind of when each year’s new report is published through a SLISAlert that’ll pop up in your inbox. Check it out!

Throughout each semester, you’ll also have access to our School’s online Career Colloquia series and career development webinars, including interviewing and resume crafting workshops, many of which are led by our own Career Center Liaison to SLIS Jill Klees. (By the way, Klees recently served on an American Libraries panel discussion about job searching in the field of LIS. You can read my blog about that session here.)

Students have leadership opportunities

“Take advantage of leadership opportunities – be open-minded and think broadly,” advised SLIS Director Sandra Hirsh, who moderated the session. Her advice: Do a traditional or virtual internship (once you’re eligible), take advantage of your complimentary student membership to one of the top LIS professional organizations in the country, join a student chapter of one of these organizations and take on a leadership role.

“People here really care!”

So stressed Student Services Coordinator Vicki Robison, who is your first-stop resource for questions about adding or dropping classes, and applying for your candidacy at the end of the program. “Don’t hesitate to get in touch — send us an email. Please don’t think that you’re bothering us,” added Associate Director Dr. Linda Main, who coordinates the School’s academic advising and can answer questions about your advisors and the student-advisor relationship. On that relationship, she advised: “Be active, not passive in your interactions with your academic advisor. Email your advisor now and then and tell him or her what you are doing.”

Debbie Faires, Assistant Director for Distance Learning, encouraged students to “understand the role of your advisor. Go to him or her for advice and suggestions for academic planning. You should also check out the wealth of information available on the Advising FAQs or the Advising blog.” The SLIS website also has a great description of the advisory role on their Advising Overview page.

 It’s okay to take it slow.

If you’re on the one-class-per-semester track, rest assured that many other SLIS students are meandering down that path too. “Be conservative with your course load – especially during your first semester,” advised Faires. “The online aspect adds rigor to classwork that’s already rigorous.”

MLIS student Courtney Dunham reiterated the point: “Just start slow,” she advised. “And organize in advance. The online environment is self-guided, so you’ll need to figure out how SLIS works into your existing life.”

Added MLIS student Adele Reid, who has been taking one course per semester during her past 5 years as a student: “Keep a schedule and make sure you have a private room with a door that will enable you to focus when you need to.”

Tips for success in an evolving profession

SLIS Director and Professor Dr. Sandra Hirsh advised students to embrace the evolving nature of our profession, the versatility of MLIS skills, and ongoing professional development. And while we’re embracing all this, SLIS faculty and administrators Dr. Linda Main, Vicki Robinson, and Debbie Faires are there to embrace our student needs, be they technical, administrative, or advisory.