Life After the MLIS

Many graduates of the ALA-accredited Master of Library and Information Science (MLIS) program at the San José State University (SJSU) School of Information (iSchool) have exciting, inspiring stories to share as they venture into new careers as information professionals, or advance to new challenges with the help of the MLIS degree. Many graduates of the ALA-accredited MLIS program at the San José State University (SJSU) School of Information (iSchool) have exciting, inspiring stories to share as they venture into new careers as information professionals or advance to new challenges with the help of the MLIS degree. From public libraries to academic institutions, tech companies and multinational corporations, creating programs that benefit communities and enhance the information profession — iSchool alumni are doing it all.

Take Scott Hargrove (MLIS, ’10), who at only 42 years old has attained the role of CEO at the Fraser Valley Regional Library (FVRL) in British Columbia. In this role on any given day, Hargove can use every bit of the  leadership skills he has learned on the job at the iSchool. “[The School of Information’s] courses in leadership were exceptional,” Hargrove (pictured right) enthuses. “I regularly refer to that material in support of personal and professional development. I certainly would not be the person I am without that continued influence.” As CEO of a sizable BC public library system, Hargove’s work pulls him away from the traditional idea of what librarianship means. Says Hargove, “Areas like HR, financial management, business planning and budgeting represent the vast majority of my work.” He works closely with expert directors in each of these areas to ensure the region he serves has smoothly operating libraries.

Tamarack Hockin (MLIS, ’17), who works with Hargove at FVRL, is also making her mark in the public library sector in her role as the Collection Services Librarian, a job she secured months before graduating thanks to her eight years of library field experience and the skills she amassed at the School of Information. In addition to her MLIS, Hockin (pictured left with Hargove) also completed an Advanced Certificate in Strategic Management of Digital Assets & Services during her time the iSchool, which helped further prepare her for her current role, where she is required to oversee cataloguing and processing of collections and work in-depth with FVRL’s integrated library system. “The courses I took in big data and information visualization [at the iSchool],” says Hockin, “continue to help me communicate data-driven insights about the collection to staff at my library.”

Stepping a bit away from the traditional MLIS pathway, Lauren Romaniuk (MLIS ’14), has found employment with Instacart, a leader of the growing on-demand grocery delivery service company sector. Romaniuk works as a digital asset librarian for the company, a role that has her managing the company’s data and extensive catalogs. Her academic focuses on data and digital environments at SJSU helped immensely in preparing her for this position.

Says Romaniuk, “We’re taught as librarians to think very critically about data: how does it affect the user, who is going to access it, how do you retrieve it and how do you protect yourself so that you’re using content in a way that is ultimately positive?” This critical thinking is a skill that Romaniuk could bring to the table after her time at the iSchool. “I was able to sit down and look at our current strategy,” she says, “and make recommendations to improve how we leverage our assets.”

Alumni like Jennifer Pickens (MLIS, '14) have found meaningful positions on the archival side of the LIS field, at the Charles M. Schulz Museum and Research Center in Santa Rosa, CA. Her main responsibility is processing objects, as the museum conducts item-level processing of their Schulz collection, including many of the original Peanuts comic strips and other artwork. “So,” Pickens says, “I build catalog records and populate our museum software.” Says Pickens(pictured right), “We help the curator and exhibitions staff with selection of objects for exhibits, editing the text, and even installation.” Her responsibilities often extend beyond traditional archival work, too. “We get to give tours of the archives,” Pickens enthuses, “and show some of our favorite artifacts to illustrate the story of Charles M. Schulz and Peanuts. We also do oral histories, which is one of my favorite parts of the job.”

As an LA county urban planner, Jonathan P. Bell (MLIS, ’17) explores the deep relationship between public libraries and cities like Los Angeles using his MLIS to help bridge any divide between them. Bell credits his work at the iSchool as a student and as a student research assistant with enhancing his knowledge of all aspects of the library profession. Says Bell, “The faculty, course offerings and student research opportunities at SJSU’s iSchool are unmatched. I had the opportunity to take courses with many of today’s leading LIS educators and practitioners.” It was early in his urban planning career that Bell found commonality in the work of public library and city planning departments. “Both agencies,” says Bell (pictured below), “have a mission of community development at their core. I pursued my MLIS at SJSU in large part to explore ways to bring the city planning and public library worlds together to benefit the people.” Bell feels that he has bridged that divide through his MLIS coursework and, today, he continues to unite those worlds as an urban planner, as a researcher, and as an essay writer.

Having graduated with her MLIS in 2007, alumna and newly elected CLA president Dolly Goyal (MLIS, ’07) has naturally been working in the field for years in various positions, including library director and  currently  library services manager for San Mateo County Libraries. Her new additional role as president of the CLA, though, marks a new chapter in her career as an LIS professional. Her responsibilities as president of the association are varied, and include planning conferences and working with the board of directors, business manager, and CLA staff to ensure the organization is running as smoothly as possible internally and externally. Goyal’s (pictured right) development as a leader began with her studies at SJSU and continue to this day.

We invite you to learn more about our outstanding alumni by reading their community profiles and alumni career spotlights, which provide a glimpse into LIS workplaces and offer insights on the most valuable LIS skills for different jobs. Visit the MLIS Alumni at Work series page to watch a few videos showing MLIS alums in their workplaces. If you're a graduate of the School of Information at San José State University, please create your alumni career spotlight and share your news!

It’s never too early to be thinking about life after the MLIS. With that in mind, Jill Klees, our school's career counselor, publishes a career newsletter and hosts a career blog—both excellent reads for current iSchool students and alumni. And our school’s online Career Development resources are free for everyone to use. Choose which LIS career direction is right for you by exploring the Career Pathways, where you’ll learn about the information profession from traditional librarianship to digital services, archives and emerging technologies. Then when you’re ready to start or advance your career, check out the job listing sites and employment resources.

The iSchool provides abundant resources to help you discover your LIS passion and start the next phase of your career in information services. 

The level of instructor involvement in the classes I selected was impressive. The breadth of courses is equally impressive. – MLIS graduate

MLIS students can customize their educational experience to fit their interests and career objectives, selecting from more than 60 electives offered each semester.