Monday, June 17, 2013

UMSI: A Professional Program

Students pursuing the School of Information's MSI degree will take many courses that have a theoretical underlying, but one of the signature components of this professional school program is the focus on practical experience. (By definition, a professional school is a graduate school level institution that prepares students for careers in specific fields.) There are unlimited opportunities for students to engage in real-world activities that drive the realization and application of the skills and knowledge gained while at UMSI that more than adequately prepare graduates for a multitude of professional opportunities.

All MSI students kick off their first term by taking part in the foundations course, SI 501: Contextual Inquiry and Project Management.  This course pairs teams of students with local organizations, and allows for students to develop team-oriented skills, the foundations of user research, and always-needed project management abilities, which are required across almost all Information-related careers.

Contextual Inquiry and Project Management is just the start; students have the opportunity to further the development of their skills through other client-based courses, internships, and Alternative Spring Break (ASB).  As part of ASB, students take part in a holistic opportunity to apply their Information-skills in a professional setting, often with relatively little guidance, all while navigating a major US city independently (and having fun!) Students also engage in both short and long-term service-oriented opportunities with local organizations that allow for them to hone their skill sets, often through involvement with the UMSI student organization.

The Career Development Office (CDO) at UMSI, where I work, helps to ensure that students make the most of these practical opportunities starting with connecting organizations to UMSI, making student opportunities available.  Furthermore, the CDO helps students tell the story of their client-based classes, internships, or other practical opportunities in their resume, cover letter, portfolio, and interview.  Lastly, we bring the employers here to hear your story, through our annual Career Showcase in September, the Networking Fair in March, and a range of employer information sessions, mock interviews, and on-campus recruiting events throughout the year.  We hope you take advantage of all that UMSI has to offer you while you are here!

-Kelly Kowatch
Assistant Director of Career Development
University of Michigan School of Information