Monday, March 20, 2017

The LIS Specialization

A massive research institution like the University of Michigan, needs a state-of-the-art library system to support it. For this reason, students in the LIS specialization are able to take advantage of the plethora of educational and vocational opportunities that abound on-campus. Many MSI students work part-time in the University of Michigan library system.
With the LIS program housed within the iSchool, rest assured that you will leave with a solid and multidisciplinary degree from an ALA accredited institution. Moreover, you can supplement the LIS-coursework with innovative classes on cutting edge technologies, learn about usability, and develop your programming skills.

You can connect with other library-minded individuals through involvement in the following student organizations:

Many LIS graduates are employed in the southeastern Michigan area. I actually met a LIS grad currently working as a librarian at a local Ann Arbor middle school last term, when I volunteered for the Hour of Code event she’d organized there. However, a number of graduates also receive employment across the nation. Companies hiring LIS-track graduates include the New York Public Library, CNN, and the National Library of Medicine.

Likewise graduates have gone on to land job titles such as Systems Librarian, Database Manager, Information Analyst, Not Your Grandma’s Librarian, and more!

Wherever they go and whatever their titles, these SI grads continue the legacy of using information to better society. You can join the movement to improve humanity… one library at a time.

Wednesday, March 15, 2017

Q&A with a Tailored Student

Meet First-Year MSI Student: Licheng

Admitted As: Social Computing
Switched To: IAR/HCI
Is Now: Tailored

Why did you decide to tailor?
“Because I was trying to do User Research and there’s not an established specialization for that. HCI is a great foundation… but the problem, for me, is there is a lot of prerequisites and compulsory courses you have to take. Some of them are really useful, but I [have] a sociology background so there’s a lot of things I already know and I don’t want to take it again.”

What is the process to become tailored?
“Being tailored is actually quite easy… from the administrative process. But you do need to speak with a faculty to make sure tailor fits for you. I spoke with Kentaro. We explored my interests together and he offered me some courses. We realized that I want to do both quantitative and qualitative, which is not offered within SI. So I have to go beyond SI for some courses.”

Which departments are you taking these courses from?
“Some from sociology and psychology, some from data science, one from Ross [school of business], one from stats.”

Were they difficult to get into?
“Not that hard. Just make sure to show up in the first day. That’s how professors usually determine if you are interested in the class or not.”

So how did you choose Kentaro to speak to about tailoring?
“At orientation there are some professors presenting. Also I was at the campus visit last March where another 5-6 faculty members were talking about their research. I got to know many, but not all of them. I also searched on their websites. Kentaro is really smart. I believe if he was an SI student he would be tailored too. Because he was a Computer Science PHD and then now he’s doing interviews. There was a strong motivation for him to go beyond his disciplinary training, which is exactly what I am looking for. He seemed to be a perfect fit so I approached him."

Do you find it harder to connect with people in different specializations?
“It’s a common expectation. People think people group themselves into specialization and that’s how you get to know people. From my experience that’s actually not the case. It’s about classes. I actually feel more advantaged in terms of getting to know people because I’m taking classes from different specializations."

What do you enjoy doing when you’re not working?
“For the first semester, I was exploring the city and trying out restaurants. But now I’ve gotten tired of it. Because I was expecting a lot of Asian restaurants but it turned out to be not many here. So I have to go beyond… to Ypsilanti. [But] this semester I’ve been focused on finding an internship. ...I’ve been attending [on-campus] workshops outside of SI.”

Any parting words?
“Feel free to explore! The good thing is if you don’t feel satisfied with the tailor specialization, you can switch back.”

Sunday, March 5, 2017

The IAR Specialization

It’s that time of year here at UMSI where first-years and second-years alike are on the prowl for paid work, whether that be in the form of an internship or a full-time job. I’ve had a number of employers ask, “So information… analysis and, uh, retrieval… what exactly is that?” And maybe you feel the same way.

I- and my buddies in the IAR track- like to think of our specialty as Data Science and ourselves as budding Data Scientists. Not sure what a Data Scientist is? Well it’s ONLY the sexiest job of the 21st century! Sorry HCI-ers.

So why UMSI for IAR? Well first, the type of work you apply your programming skills to is quite interesting including personalizing news content, examining social movements, and search engines. Don’t have much programming experience? Don’t worry! UMSI is really dedicated to getting everyone up to speed because it recognizes that each cohort represents a wide range of disciplines and expertise. Prior to this school-year, I had NO programming experience. I diligently reviewed the material sent during the summer to waive out of SI502 (Networked Computing) and apprehensively took my seat the first day of class in SI506 (Programming I). I had a negative experience with a programming class in my undergrad, and wasn’t sure if I’d be able to handle the course. Well, it ended up being one of my favorite courses! The teaching team really broke down programming concepts into easily digestible pieces and were very supportive (we had a Facebook group through which we could ask questions and numerous office hours).

Another great thing about the IAR specialization here at UMSI is that 6 cognate credits are built into the program. This is advantageous since a data scientist's skill-set is comprised of three main components:


Through cognates you have the opportunity to explore coursework in an area of interest (i.e. develop substantive expertise) such as education, finance, healthcare, etc. and/or increase your statistics knowledge (through courses in the Statistics department or the College of Engineering).

Lastly, because IAR is one of the cozier specializations here at UMSI, there is a lot of peer bonding and mutual support. For example, through the Student Organization for Data Analytics (SODA) [formerly SOIAR], we support skill development in one another.