Friday, December 8, 2017

UMSI Experience as an International Student

This week, we interviewed Evelyn Yu, a dual-degree student at UMSI and Ross School of Business at the University of Michigan. Read about her experience as an international student at the university here: Can you tell us a little bit about yourself and what inspired you to come to Ann Arbor for a graduate program?
I was born and raised in Taipei, Taiwan. After receiving a degree in business, I joined EY Advisory Service as a consultant and switched to internal consulting positions in different companies later on in my career. Throughout my career, I found my interest in tech and design thinking, so I decided to take on my MBA.

I started my MBA program in Fall 2016, and focus my career search on tech companies and design thinking consulting firms. Along my recruiting process, I realized how important UI/UX design and Data Analytics are if you want to succeed in the future. Thus, I decided to apply for MSI program and luckily got admitted.

How do you cope with the differences in culture, language, and environment in general?
I would say language was the most challenging part when I just came to the state. To make things worse, class participation often accounted for 30% of the grade at business school, which made me really anxious. To cope with the language barrier, I forced myself to at least speak up once in every class. After a while, I felt more comfortable to speak in English without overthinking before I raised my hand.

I think it's important to keep an open mind when you see something different. In terms of culture, I tried to observe what my native friends do in different occasions. There was one event I remembered vividly about eating at a restaurant. I went to a restaurant with three American classmates, and the waitress came asking whether we'd like something to drink. I tried to order the main dish I wanted and didn't get why the waitress kept telling me that she would take the order later. In Taiwan, if you go to a restaurant, most of the time you will order everything at once (e.g., drinks, appetizer, main dish, etc). Later, I realized that people usually order drinks first, then after you get the drink, the server will come back and ask what dish you want for the main course. Ever since then, I would ask my native friends what they usually do and observe how they behave. 

As for the environment, I spent some time getting myself used to the dry air here in Michigan. The humidity in Taipei is really high, often close to 100%, so my skin became really dry after I came to the States. Buying a humidifier and applying lotion more often are the two pieces of advice I can give right now. I knew it would be cold in the winter, but it's not scary. Just get a really nice jacket, a pair of snow boots, gloves, scarf, and a hat. And you can survive the winter! It's actually really fun to see all the snow and go skiing.

What are some of your favorite moments at UMSI?
I really enjoy working with classmates at UMSI, because the mindset of MSI students is really different from a business student. I always learn some new things when working with them. For example, during class activities in SI 588, fundamental human behaviors.

What have been some of the biggest challenges you have encountered as an international student since you came to UMSI?
Some classes at UMSI require more writing, and it's not just casual writing, but academic writing. I think this is one of the biggest challenge an international student will face at UMSI.

In regards to internships, how did you go about finding one and were there any difficulties that you ran into?
Since I started at Ross in the first year, my internship recruiting was focused on MBA intern positions. The biggest challenge I faced when looking for an internship last year was networking. In Taiwan, networking isn't a big thing in the recruiting process. Therefore, I was really nervous at the beginning -- I didn't know what to talk to the recruiter or alumni from the company about. To make things worse, you sometimes need to "cold-call" some alumni to learn more about a company that you are interested in. To be honest, I still feel nervous now if I am going to cold-call some alumni. However, practice makes perfect! Also, try to think all these networking efforts as you really want to get to know a person and make friends with him or her.

Do you have any tips on financial management?
I cook my myself pretty often. I think it's a good way to save some money and to stay healthy!

Monday, December 4, 2017

Funding Your MSI Degree

Housing, food, tuition, school supplies, transportation - the cost of a program can be a determining factor when it comes to applying for graduate school. Here at UMSI, we don’t want financial burden to stop you from applying. Therefore, I have put together a quick summary of the opportunities available for you at UMSI (or outside of UMSI) to make your degree affordable.

*I also want to emphasize that UMSI has a continuously expanding network of connections in the industry that offer many opportunities for extra earning if money is a concern. Imagine receiving at least 3 to 4 job postings in a day through emails! (because we do!)





Scholarships
  • Merit-based
    • To be considered in the first round for the merit based scholarships, be sure to submit your MSI application by January 15, 2018! Later rounds of scholarship are reviewed on a rolling basis after the January 15 deadline.
    • Merit scholarships cover partial to full tuition for the program. And it’s evaluated based on the application materials you submit for your MSI application - no additional application is required.
  • Diversity
    • These scholarships vary from partial to full tuition and are evaluated based on your engagement and background in different forms of diversity.
  • Matching-funds
    • Did you know that for every external scholarship you apply and are awarded in your first year of the MSI program, you can apply for matching funds through UMSI? This means if you receive $5,000 through external scholarship, UMSI will match that and award you with an additional $5,000! Students can receive matching funds up to $10,000.
  • External scholarships
    • To start, this page on our website includes a lot of good resources for external scholarships for students outside of UMSI and the University of Michigan: https://www.si.umich.edu/academics/funding/external-scholarships
    • Although external scholarships often don’t cover your full tuition, they are very helpful in covering at least some portions of your tuition for the program. Some websites suggested by current students and alumni for external scholarships include the following: Petersons, FastWeb, CollegeNet
  • International Students


On-campus Opportunities
  • GSI/GSRA
    • GSI stands for Graduate Student Instructor and GSRA stands for Graduate Student Research Assistant. These two positions are paid positions for graduate students to engage in teaching and research opportunities and work with faculty and professors. They cover tuition of the program, stipend, and health benefits. While it is not typical to see first year students working as a GSI or GSRA in the MSI program, graduate students can apply to be GSI for other programs on campus, such as psychology, statistics, and business.
    • Emails are typically sent out during the summer for the fall semester for GSI positions.
  • Part-time positions
    • There are many part-time opportunities on campus available for students in the MSI program. Anyone who wants a part time job, will have a part time job! For example, the University of Michigan Library often look for graduate students to work with. Other departments also have job postings that you can apply for, such as web designer or graphic designer. You will soon see these opportunities flying across your email inbox soon after you start the program (or even before you start!).


Tips
Finally, I have 3 tips for you!
  1. Start early (basically not the week before the final deadline)
    • No matter if it’s an application for a graduate school or an application for a scholarship/funding opportunity, starting early is the key. Researching funding opportunities takes time, having someone else proofread your application material takes time, making iterations and revisions take time; with that said, start early!
  2. Research
    • Do your research. There are many scholarships available outside of UMSI and often no one applies to these scholarships. Don’t rely on one single source and look through other scholarship or job-finding sites.
  3. Apply!
    • Nothing will happen if you don’t start your application - unfortunately. So my best tips for you really is: take that one step to start your application! Chances only exist when you apply!


For more information about funding your degree, check out this page: https://www.si.umich.edu/academics/funding-your-degree










Monday, November 27, 2017

Current Students Spotlight


This past week, we interviewed three current students from the three areas of programs that MSI offers. We asked them questions about UMSI, their backgrounds, and so much more. See below for their responses and get a glimpse at what being in the MSI program is like! (Reminder: our first webinar is this Wednesday at 8AM EST: https://bluejeans.com/993088586)

What is your background experience before coming to UMSI?
Data Science (Christ Bredernitz, first year)
My background is a bit unique. I studied hospitality business at Michigan State University, during which time I worked in Las Vegas for a summer internship. After graduation, I worked as an account executive in Chicago for a third-party logistics company. I quickly learned sales wasn't right for me and came back home to enroll as a non-degree student here at U of M during the Fall 16 semester to help me prepare for a graduate degree program in Information. During the time after finishing up SI 106 and starting here at UMSI, I worked as a business analyst intern at Quicken Loans.

UX Research and Design (Olivia Patercsak, second year)  
Before UMSI, I studied Environmental Science and International Studies, both with a focus on health and the environment. I then worked for a bit in an epidemiological research lab here in Ann Arbor before joining the UMSI program.

Library and Archives (Gilliam Goldblatt, first year) 
I got my BA in Psychology, and the four years during school, I worked at the circulation desk at my university library.

Why did you choose UMSI?  
Data Science (Christ Bredernitz, first year)
The diversity and freedom to tailor our studies. The reputation and success of UMSI graduates and faculty also helped in my decision.

UX Research and Design (Olivia Patercsak, second year)
It was important to me that the program I chose had a lot of resources and connections, great career services, and supported students from various backgrounds. Plus, I went to UM as an undergrad and absolutely love Ann Arbor.

Library and Archives (Gilliam Goldblatt, first year)
I had heard before coming here that it is a wonderful program, that it has one of the top Library program in the nation. I also have my immediate family that live in Michigan, so it's both the good reputation in academics and the fact that I have the familial connection to the state.  

What opportunities do you have here at UMSI? How much effort did you have to put into finding these opportunities? Do you get to work with students from other backgrounds and areas of interest?
Data Science (Christ Bredernitz, first year)
The opportunities at UMSI, I feel, are endless. I always am hearing about events, lunch, and learns, info sessions, etc, that are going on around campus. Some of these opportunities take some effort in finding. I feel that itrack* is a great resource when looking for upcoming events. So far this semester, I have been able to work with some students from other interests in SI 501, contextual inquiry. Outside of that, my classes are all mainly data focused.
 *itrack is a career-finding system that UMSI uses to help with students' career development.  

Library and Archives (Gilliam Goldblatt, first year 
I mean, there are so many interesting events and lectures here that UMSI hosts, and there is a constant stream of information regarding potential jobs, internships, and other opportunities. So that's definitely a multitude of interesting opportunities that are presented to me. While a lot of the information comes to me via e-mail, I would kill for a comprehensive list of activities/lectures/meetings on a weekly basis so I could attend more, I feel like I am always missing something even though I take care to search for interesting things to do. 

How are you managing the tuition and finance?
Data Science (Christ Bredernitz, first year)
I use savings from the summer and student loans.

Library and Archives (Gilliam Goldblatt, first year)
Oh, a lot of federal student loans really. I also have a work-study job on campus, so that helps a little bit. 

How are you balancing school work, social life, and work?
Data Science (Chris Bredernitz, first year)
Very well. I find that breaking up school work into smaller time commitments throughout the week helps me not to feel overwhelmed. Making time for yourself also helps a lot with busy schedule. It's important to keep a healthy balance between the three that work well for you.

UX Research and Design (Olivia Patercsak, second year)
I think I am still trying to figure this out! I make a lot of to-do lists and keep a paper agenda to keep track of day-to-day tasks. I also use a digital calendar app to keep track of events, appointments, and classes. All in all, it is about knowing your limits and making sure you don't over-extend yourself even though there are so many exciting things happening.


Library and Archives (Gilliam Goldblatt, first year 
I think I am doing pretty okay so far, I have been trying a lot more lately to actually go and do social events that are happening and to hang out with friends more. Socially was really where I was slipping before since I commute and live an hour away. I mean it's still fairly anemic, but I am going to keep trying to get and do things socially around campus. The rest, I think I have been doing fairly well so far. 

What are some of your favorite courses?
Data Science (Christ Bredernitz, first year)
Right now, I'd have to say SI 507: intermediate programming and SI 563: game theory. They are my favorite courses.

UX Research and Design (Olivia Patercsak, second year)
One of my favorite courses was SI 501, contextual inquiry and consulting foundations (a required course for all UMSI students). The professor was great, and it really got me excited about entering the information field. I also really love SI 699, developing social computing, which is one of the mastery courses SI students can take. Again, the professor is amazing, and it is awesome to see all our coursework and experiences in the program come together as we work on our class projects.


Library and Archives (Gilliam Goldblatt, first year)
I only have three this semester so far, so it's not really that much of a choice in that regard, but my class SI 580, records and archives, is fairly interesting. 
 
What would you recommend to or say to prospective students? Data Science (Christ Bredernitz, first year)
Explore all the opportunities offered here at UMSI and get out of your comfort zone. You may find an area of study or project that you never thought you'd enjoy that could help fine-tune your focus area. Also, if you are planning on focusing your studies in Data Science, come in with basic knowledge of R language; it will help tremendously.


UX Research and Design (Olivia Patercsak, second year)
Keep going after things that excite you and that you find interesting. Grad school is definitely an investment of time and money, so finding a program that gets you excited and enthusiastic about the information field (or any field!) is important.

Library and Archives (Gilliam Goldblatt, first year) 
I would tell them to not to be frustrated about the importance of their interests to the SI program. Coming into the program knowing that you can talk to important people about things in order to show your concerns is definitely something worth knowing.

Tell us one thing you wish you knew before coming to UMSI.
UX Research and Design (Olivia Patercsak, second year)
I wish I'd knew how fast 2 years could go by! UM has so many great resources and opportunities - from libraries and research labs, interesting guest speakers, fun concerts, etc - that made this time go by so quickly and meaningfully. I wish I knew that it'd be so bittersweet to see all the work coming to an end! :')

Library and Archives (Gilliam Goldblatt, first year)  To be honest, I wish I had known a lot more about the Mastery course program. Through advising meetings I've been able to better hash out exactly what they are, and what they entail. 

Friday, November 24, 2017

Upcoming Blog Post and Happy Holidays

Happy Thanksgiving! 

For those of you who aren't familiar with Thanksgiving, this is a national holiday in the United States on the fourth Thursday of every November. On this day and the weekend that follows it, families and friends often gather together for a delicious meal and enjoy the holiday together. The origin of Thanksgiving is actually about celebrating and giving thanks to the harvest for the year.


Monday Blog Post
Given that it was a holiday weekend, the blog post for this week will be posted on this coming Monday, which is November 27, 2017. Stay tuned and get excited about this blog post, as it features interviews of several current MSI students. They will be answering the following questions: 
  1. What is your background experience before coming to UMSI?
  2. Why UMSI?
  3. What opportunities do you have here at UMSI? How much effort did you have to put into finding these opportunities? Do you get to work with students from other backgrounds and areas of interest?
  4. How are you managing the tuition and finance?
  5. How are you balancing school work, social life, and work?
  6. What are some of your favorite courses?
  7. What would you recommend to or say to prospective students?
  8. Tell us one thing (or more) you wish you knew before coming to UMSI.

Friday, November 17, 2017

Getting Ready for Your MSI Application

Right now, you may be thinking to yourself: “Where do I even begin?” Don’t worry! After reading this blog post, you will be an expert on the MSI application. Let’s start with a checklist of the application requirements, then we will talk about some tips for a successful application.

Checklist
To find more information about MSI application requirement, please visit: https://www.si.umich.edu/academics/admissions/msi-application-requirements.

  • Mark the deadlines on your calendar
Priority deadline: Jan 15, 2018; International students: Jan 15, 2018; Domestic: May 1, 2018
  • Unofficial Transcript
You may send in an official transcript with your application if you would like. Official transcripts are required if you are offered admission. Keep in mind that official transcripts have to be mailed in a sealed envelopes or digitally delivered in an encrypted format.
  • Three (3) Letters of Recommendation
  • Statement of Purpose
Your 4 to 6 pages double-spaced statement of purpose should address the following questions: (1) What are the critical issues in the field of information? (2) What are your aspirations in the field of information? (3) What is your understanding of the School of Information? (4) How will a UMSI education help you reach your aspirations? (5) What would you contribute to the UMSI community and to the field as a whole?
  • Personal Statement
Your 1 to 2 pages double-spaced personal statement should answer the question: how have your background and life experiences motivated your decision to pursue a graduate degree at the University of Michigan?
  • Resume
  • TOEFL (If you are a non-native English speaker)
We prefer a minimum of 100 total score for iBT TOEFL, but lower scores may be considered given that we review applications holistically. When taking the TOEFL, be sure to use the U-M institution code: 1839.
*There are exemptions to this requirement. Please see our website for details*
  • Online Application
On the actual application itself, there are many other questions that ask for information such as address, other activities, and additional information. Be sure to fill these fields out too!


Tips
To start, here are some really good tips created by a MSI student last year: http://msi-admissions-umsi.blogspot.com/2016/12/tips-for-successful-application.html.

Start Early!
Given that the priority deadline is January 15, 2018, you want to start your application early. If you haven’t already started your application, do that now! Your letter of recommenders will need time to write your letters as well, so be sure to confirm the three people writing your letters of recommendation ahead of time! Most letter of recommenders prefer to have at least one month to two months notice. For international students and non-native English speakers, be sure to take the TOEFL and get your scores in - it takes time for the scores to be submitted.


Statement of Purpose vs. Personal Statement
When you write your statement of purpose, think of it as a place where you can talk about your dreams, goals, passion, and your understanding of the field of information. You should also do some research on the MSI program itself before writing about it - this is where you want to mention specific faculty members’ names if you have read about any who share similar interests as you. On the other hand, the personal statement is more like your story. It is where you can tell the admission team who you are as a person, student, and any other role you identify with. Provide specific examples whenever you can (e.g., numbers are always good to be included) and have someone else review your essays. Many professors actually don’t mind reviewing personal statements for you, so if you have the opportunity, I would take advantage of that and ask to see if they could review your essay for you.


Share your materials with your letter of recommenders
You may not have heard of this one before, but I recommend sharing your application materials (i.e., resume, personal statement, and statement of purpose) with your letter of recommenders. To write good letter of recommendation, your letter of recommender not only has to know you well as a person, but also needs to know what you want to emphasize in your application. If you are unsure, I encourage to talk to your letter of recommenders and make sure they can truly speak about your qualities and characteristics.  


Draft outside of the application itself!
Type all your essays and answers in separate documents outside of the application. Often , the application site may crash suddenly, or you may lose your data for no apparent reason - maybe you forgot to click save. It is also easier to track edits and changes when you edit outside of the application. When you have separate documents, it also makes the reviewing process easier for your friends or family members who review the materials for you.


SAVE!
Once you get started on the application itself, be sure to click “SAVE” every few minutes to make sure you don’t lose any data!

Good luck! If you have any questions, feel free to send us an email at umsi-admission@umich.edu.

Monday, November 13, 2017

First Webinar for Prospective Students

First Prospective Student Webinar
Save the date: November 29, 2017 from 8:00AM - 9:00AM EST (Eastern Standard Time)

Description:
Do you have questions about the Master of Science in Information (MSI) program that we offer at the University of Michigan School of Information (UMSI)? Are you unsure about what the experiences may be like at UMSI?
In this hour long webinar, we will talk about the application requirement and process for the MSI program. UMSI's Assistant Director of Recruiting and Admissions, Rachael Wiener, will be giving a short introductory presentation about the MSI program. Also, two current students, one in UX Research and Design/HCI and one in Data Analytics, will be participating in the webinar during the Question and Answer section. You will have the chance to learn about the experiences as an international student and ask about the courses offered at UMSI.

More information about the webinar will be sent out through email, so be sure to register with us to receive regular updates: https://umich.tfaforms.net/217728

What to Expect from this Blog?
Over the next several months, we will be posting every Friday with information on upcoming events for prospective students, application updates, as well as interviews with current students and alumni of the MSI program. If there is something you want to see in this blog, please send us an email at: umsi.admissions@umich.edu. If you have any questions, feel free to email us as well. We are always happy to help and answer any questions you have - be it a question about what MSI program is like or where to get pizza in Ann Arbor.

With that said, be sure to keep up-to-date with this blog over the next several months in the application process! We look forward to hearing from you.

Friday, April 21, 2017

Housing in Ann Arbor

If you plan on joining the UMSI community in the Fall, which I hope you are, yesterday would have been the best time to start looking for housing… but today’s a good a time as any.


I recommend that you start looking early! Why? I remember last year, some really smart people started looking for housing as early as Visiting Days in March. I, however, wasn’t quite as proactive. I waited until about June to actually begin searching and didn’t have a confirmed place to stay until a week before orientation!! It was very nerve wracking and I recommend you DON’T do that.


Some important factors about housing in Ann Arbor:
  • Price: The further from campus, the cheaper rent will be in general. I know some people who live in the neighboring town of Ypsilanti (about 20min away) and drive in.
  • Location: Consider how long your commute to North Quad (where the majority of SI classes are held) will be. I personally wanted a place within 10min walking distance of North Quad, so that I wouldn’t have to rely on waiting for a bus if I was running late. Also consider, how accessible grocery stores are. Seriously. I live a good trek from a grocery store (with a car).
  • Transportation: If you will not have a car, I recommend visiting The Ride to get information on the Ann Arbor public buses (free for students!).
  • Safety: I think in general, based on UM Crime Reports, the northern part of town is safer than the areas near S. University or south of central campus. The northern part includes areas such as Kerrytown and North Campus.
  • Amenities: Think about if you need a furnished place, heat/water included, want to pay for parking, etc. Personally I found an unfurnished place and bought things from Ypsilanti SUPER cheap with Craigslist. But I also refused to pay additional for parking… I wanted a place that had it included.
  • Housemates: Most likely you will have 1-2 housemates. It’s quite pricey to live alone in Ann Arbor and many students wishing to do so look into Ypsilanti.
  • Neighborhoods: Some student-recommended areas to live are the North Side of Ann Arbor (i.e. Kerrytown), North Campus, South Campus, Plymouth Rd. On-campus options for graduate students are Munger (on central, new, multi-disciplinary, hosts events) and Northwood (on north, quiet, family-friendly).


Recommended Resources for Your Housing Search:

Craigslist
UM Housing Site
UM Off-Campus Housing Site
Facebook: UMich Housing Group, Prospective Students Group
Zillow
Referrals from Friends
Homeshare program

UMSI listserv*
Driving/Walking around A2
Calling/Visiting apartments
Padmapper
Trulia
Cribspot
Apartments.com
ICC (co-op) website
Walkscore
*once you get access to the listserv.

Happy Hunting :)