Tips and Resources for Students Just Starting Out

iStudent Blog

Published: August 31, 2017

Hello, my name is Priscilla Ameneyro, and I am excited to introduce myself as the lead writer for the iStudent blog. Before I share some great resources for new students, I’d like to tell you a little bit about myself.

I am in the MLIS program and plan to graduate next year. I see myself working in marketing and communications in a library or museum setting, but I also love art and have taken classes in the Special Librarianship pathway. I started the program several years ago, took a break, and now I’m back to wrap up my degree. It’s been a great experience so far and I’m happy to welcome all the new SJSU iSchool students!

If you’re a new student at the SJSU School of Information, you’ve come to the right place to get yourself acquainted with the online learning environment and the vast resources available to you. I imagine you’re feeling nervous and excited as you begin your first semester, and want to know more about what you can expect embarking on this next chapter of your life. There are plenty of resources available to help you navigate new student life and I’ve selected my favorites to get you started. So take a deep breath and work your way through the below tips and resources for new students to check out during their first semester. I promise you’ll come out on the other side feeling confident to take on everything graduate school has to throw at you, while building your professional network and identifying your unique career pathway!

Tip #1: Work-Life Balance
Have you thought about how you’ll balance your current responsibilities with the demands of school? If you’re like me, you didn’t enroll in graduate school right after you completed your undergraduate studies. Getting back into the routine of being a student again was tough, especially while working full time. But don’t worry, you’re not alone; former iSchool blog writer and alumna Allison Randall Gatt has some great advice on work-life balance in her blog post Life + Work + School – How Can I Get it All Done?

Tip #2: Think Beyond Your First Semester
Can you picture yourself landing your dream job? Even if you have no idea what your dream job is yet, it’s never too early to start thinking beyond your first semester. A great place to start is the iSchool’s Career Pathways where you can explore the many paths a MLIS or MARA degree can take you. You can also explore the Alumni Profiles to glean insight on the types of jobs iSchool alumni are doing with their degrees. Using these resources can help you identify a career path that interests you, and provide guidance on what courses will put you one step closer to your goal. While you’re at it, check out Advice for Finding the Best Career for you in the Information Profession by alumna Elizabeth Borghi, who shares how to develop the right skills for the many opportunities that await you.

Tip #3: Get Social
Stay in the know and network with fellow students and alumni on Facebook, Pinterest, and in the student-alumni group iSchool Connext. This list of the iSchool’s Social Media pages will keep you busy liking, tweeting, and following! In the exclusively online environment, it’s vital to use technology to keep yourself connected.

Professional associations are also a good way to network with students and professionals on a local and national level. Did you know you can get a free student membership in a professional association as a new graduate student at the SJSU School of Information? New students can choose between membership in the American Library Association, Special Libraries Association, Association for Information Science and Technology, and MARA students are given a one year free membership in Society of American Archivists. As an iSchool student, I also encourage you to check out the iSchool’s award-winning student chapters.

Tip #4: Know Who to Contact
It’s okay to ask questions, and there’s no doubt you’ll have them. The Advising FAQs are where you should begin. As information professionals, we’re pretty good at searching for the answer on our own, but if you still can’t find the answer or you need clarification, there are people happy to help. You’ll need to know where to go, and you can refer to this article about Who to Contact.

Tip #5: Enjoy the Journey
This is certainly not a comprehensive list of all the resources that are available to you. I encourage you to explore the iSchool website and blog pages on your own, starting with the Student Resources Quick Links.

Reflecting on my own experience as a new iSchool student, there are a few additional things I’d like to share that I hope will help you on your way to a successful career as a student and beyond. There’s a lot to consider, from registration to applying for financial aid. Make sure you’re informed and give yourself enough time to make the right decisions. Remember, the right decision for someone else isn’t necessarily the right one for you. Be realistic about how many units you can balance with your work and family responsibilities. My last piece of advice is to enjoy the journey! I’m excited to be writing for the iStudent blog and helping to connect my fellow students to resources, ideas, and opportunities. Congratulations on your decision to join the SJSU iSchool; we’re happy to have you onboard.