Library School Career Center: San José State University Library

Here is this week’s installment of the Library School Career Center feature, which is presented in partnership with the folks from the blog Hiring Librarians. If you’re interested in library education, or in new ideas and the future of the profession, you should check it out.

This interview is with Kim Dority, iSchool Career Consultant for Students and Alumni. Kim Dority is the founder and president of Dority & Associates, an information strategy and content development company focusing on researching and writing print and online content to help advance client goals. During her career, she has worked in academia, publishing, telecommunications, and the library fields, in for-profit and nonprofit settings, for both established companies and start-ups.

Additional information was also provided by Nicole Purviance, iSchool Director of Marketing and Communications.

Career Center Information

What does the school do to support students and alumni as they look for jobs?

From iSchool career advisor Kim Dority to the faculty, administration, student support service advisors, and the students and alumni themselves, all iSchool stakeholders are focused on helping our “LIS professionals in training” graduate with knowledge, applicable skills, and job opportunities.

To that end, the program has developed a multi-pronged approach to sharing LIS career information and insights:

  • The iSchool has created and continues to expand a rich collection of career resources in a broad range of formats, including online career workshops, practitioner-interview podcasts, how-to guides, descriptions of various career pathways, articles, and career checklists, among others, available in the Career Development section on the school’s website. Career-coaching workshops and a career-insights newsletter for students and alumni alternate monthly, focusing on topics ranging from job-search strategies to information interviews to creating LinkedIn profiles and similar “how-to” subjects. In addition, a student career blogger posts weekly insights and information from the student’s point of view.
  • Even before students start the program, once registered for a course they immediately have access to career advisor Kim Dority, who is available to them on an individual basis throughout the program and after they graduate. As students progress through their courses, they may have questions about types of LIS work, potential career paths, emerging opportunities, how to gain professional visibility while in grad school, library culture, job hunting and landing, or even who pays what salaries. These and hundreds of other questions are all part of exploring students’ “best-fit” options, and they are encouraged to reach out at any point to brainstorm answers that work for them.
  • Career advisor Kim Dority also regularly presents LIS career-related insights as a guest speaker in various courses and alerts faculty to new career materials of potential value to their students, especially practitioner interviews. The goal is to integrate real-world insights from those in the field with scholarship and theory, so that students regularly have an opportunity to see how various types of knowledge translate into actual LIS jobs.
  • All students are encouraged to join at least one LIS professional organization and if possible, to take a leadership role in the association student group. The iSchool pays for each student’s membership in one LIS association, and students are encouraged to actively engage with fellow members locally and nationally to help broaden their professional networks (and the job opportunities that come with them). In addition, the iSchool is currently in the process of creating a career-mentoring program led by career advisor Kim Dority for all students in school chapter leadership roles.
  • Recognizing the importance of professional-level internships for student success, the iSchool has developed and maintains a robust and ever-expanding database of internship opportunities, both in-person and remote, that reflect the broad range of information work and employers open to LIS professionals. In addition to the internship database (and in recognition of students’ time constraints) several articles in the Career Development section deal with how to make the most of internships, the benefits of internships, and ways to find time for internships.
  • Students who are or will be job-hunting have access to Handshake, San Jose State University’s job-listing platform where employers post jobs of interest to both students and alumni. In addition, the program’s liaison with the campus Career Center works regularly with iSchool students on perfecting their resumes, LinkedIn profiles, and cover letters. Through the main Career Center, our students can also practice their interviewing skills, complete self-assessments, and learn additional job-search strategies.

Are there “career experts” on staff?  What are their credentials?

Yes. Career Advisor Kim Dority is the author of Rethinking Information Work and creator of an MLIS course, “Alternative LIS Careers,” which she taught for 20 years. An independent information professional, Kim has been advising LIS students and career transitioners regarding how to find or create “best fit” work in all types of information environments for decades in addition to the client-based information work she does via her company, Dority & Associates, Inc. (See her interview with Hiring Librarians here.) Carrie McKnight, SJSU Career Center liaison for the iSchool, is an expert career development practitioner with over twenty years of experience in counseling, training, and teaching.

Does the school have a job board or an email list with job postings? 

The school provides multiple channels for letting students/alumni know about job postings. The primary job-listing platform is Handshake. New job postings are also noted via the various student-outreach communications (e.g., career newsletter, student career blog, weekly student alerts, etc.) based on newly posted Handshake jobs of interest.

In addition, the Career Development site has an entire section devoted to Job Search and Agencies, including Job Listing Sites and Resources (which identifies dozens of general and specialized LIS job sites) and Placement Agencies.

If so, how can employers get their job listing included?

Handshake has information for employers posting job openings here.

Do you require that a salary be included on job listings?

Although not required previously, California state law SB 1162 stipulates that any employer with at least 15 employees must include the salary or hourly wage range in all job postings. This requirement takes effect January 1, 2023.

Are there any other requirements for job listings?

No.

Does the school provide any of the following:

  • General career coaching – Yes. Kim Dority is available to all students and alumni for individual career advising on all aspects of LIS careers.
  • Resume/CV review – Yes. The iSchool Career Development website has information and examples for effective resumes, CVs and cover letters. Both Carrie McKnight and Kim Dority are available to critique final draft versions of each of these documents and provide detailed feedback to students.
  • Help writing cover letters – Yes. The iSchool Career Development website has information and examples for effective resumes, CVs and cover letters. Both Carrie McKnight and Kim Dority are available to critique final draft versions of each of these documents and provide detailed feedback to students.
  • Literature/articles – Yes. The iSchool Career Development website provides links to many relevant articles, job sites, blog posts, and journals. In addition, the career newsletter often includes reviews of relevant LIS career books.
  • Interview practice – Yes. Big Interview, which enables students to practice and perfect their interview skills, is available through the SJSU Career Center.
  • Networking events (virtual or in-person) – Yes. Because the iSchool understands the critical role networking plays in career development, it provides numerous opportunities for networking:
  • Student chapters: All new MLIS students receive a complimentary one-year membership in their preferred professional association, including the American Library Association, Special Libraries Association, American Society for Information Science & Technology (ASIS&T), and ARMA International. Students also benefit from the opportunity to participate in the iSchool’s active professional association student chapters. Students interact with their peers and professional leaders through virtual networking events, workshops, and conferences, as well as blogs and online discussion forums. Our student chapters have won numerous awards recognizing their excellence and their innovative approach to serving online students, including the 2009 and 2010 ALA, the 2012 ASIS&T, and the (multiple years) SLA Student Chapter of the Year.
  • Professional conferences: The iSchool participates in professional conferences and meetings held all over the U.S., Canada, and internationally. We host networking receptions at many conferences, and our students and alumni are always welcomed. It’s a great way to reconnect with colleagues and make new contacts.
  • Internships: Student interns gain real-world experience for building their resumes and make new contacts with potential future employers. iSchool students have the option to complete an onsite internship located near their home or a virtual internship, where they interact with a host organization that may be located nearby or across the continent. Our expansive internship program gives students the opportunity to engage in exciting learning opportunities that fit their career aspirations, regardless of where they live. The iSchool offers more than 200 virtual and physical internship opportunities each semester.
  • Career podcasts: Our practitioner podcasts feature information professionals and hiring managers from a variety of professional settings. They discuss their work, the skills and experiences required to pursue a similar career pathway, and recruitment opportunities. If students have questions, they are often able to contact speakers directly by email and phone.
  • Student assistantships: Many iSchool students work as student assistants with the program, helping faculty and staff while gaining hands-on experience with research and professional projects. Student assistantship opportunities vary each semester. Student assistantships are paid part-time positions.

Does the school provide any of the following in-person career services?

  • Appointments: Yes. Individual appointments with Career Advisor Kim Dority and/or Career Center liaison Carrie McKnight via phone, Zoom, or email are available upon request.
  • Speakers, or programs that present experts: Yes. Students hear from LIS professionals via iSchool podcast interviews and occasional career newsletter and student career blog interviews.
  • Mixers or other networking events: Yes. Many iSchool student chapters host virtual social gatherings/mixers. In addition, the program also hosts networking receptions at professional conferences where current students can mingle with alumni, faculty, and friends of the iSchool.
  • Job Fairs: No
  • Drop-in career center (if so, what are the hours?): No, because the program is entirely online.

Does the school provide any of the following online career services?

What do you think is the best way for students to use career help provided by the school?

The iSchool recommends that students use its career development resources and services “early and often.” By that it means that students should think about and focus on their professional career paths throughout their time in the graduate program. It’s important not to wait until they’re ready to graduate. Instead, the iSchool encourages students to get started in their first semester by exploring the career development site, and using the tools to help determine how their course choices can help them pursue their future career ambitions. Learn how to conduct informational interviews and to network while they are in school. Take advantage of opportunities to increase their understanding of traditional and non-traditional work settings where they can use skills learned in their courses. The iSchool encourages students to use the resources and to contact the Career Advisor Kim Dority if they need help, have questions, or just want to learn more about the possible career paths open to iSchool graduates. We want students to be successful!

May alumni use the school’s career resources?

Alumni may freely use all of the resources publicly available on the website and the career advising provided by Career Advisor Kim Dority.

Are there any charges for services?

The iSchool Career Development resources, all archived podcasts and recordings of career workshops are freely available on the website. The Handshake database and individual career consulting and materials review is free to iSchool students and alumni.

Can you share any stories about job hunters that found positions after using the school’s career resources?

We receive emails from alumni who credit our career resources for helping them land professional jobs. Our students are also very enthusiastic about our career development web pages. Here are a few quotes from students:

“This site is so incredible!”

“This is by far one of the best, if not the best, resources for students that I have seen.”

“I would recommend to anyone in need of career advice, not just iSchool students.”

“The information is tailored to the iSchool making it a one stop guide.”

The iSchool publishes Community Profiles and Career Spotlights about working alumni.

Anything else you’d like to share with readers about your services in particular, or about library hiring/job hunting in general?

In addition to our career development resources, the iSchool curriculum is constantly evaluated and updated to align with today’s job market and emerging trends in the library and information science field. As a graduate put it, “I entered the job market with usable skills.”

It’s also very important for students to think broadly and keep an open mind when job searching. The MLIS skillset is transferable to a wide range of organizations and industries. iSchool graduates work at medical facilities, law firms, public libraries, academic libraries, high-tech companies, schools, and more. Their business cards carry titles such as Information Architect, Usability Analyst, Librarian, and User Experience Designer – just to name a few exciting job titles.

Students’ Career Paths

Can you share any statistics about employment rates after graduation?

Yes! See here.

Can you talk a little bit about the school’s approach to internships, practicums and/or volunteering?

While internships are not required, the iSchool strongly encourages all students to take advantage of their time in the program by registering for one (or more) of the approximately 200 physical and virtual internships offered each semester. Even if students are currently working in an information center or library, doing an internship in a different work environment provides them with new experience and information – and allows them to “test” or “practice” working in a new environment without much risk. Many graduates have stated that internships were the most valuable part of their master’s education because internships lead to expanded professional networks and also often provide the critical lead to that first job.

Does the school have a stated approach or policy on helping students to find careers?

Our approach is to provide excellent career resources and services to our students, and to encourage students to take advantage of those resources “early and often” during their graduate program.

Believing it is an integral part of the iSchool’s mission to provide relevant and comprehensive career resources, the program supports these resources by assigning faculty and staff to develop and maintain them. While the faculty and staff strongly encourage students to make use of the iSchool’s career resources and services, it is a student’s individual choice to do so.

Does the school have any relationships with organizations that offer fellowships or other post-graduate opportunities?

Not at this time.

Demographics

How many students in the library school?

We average about 2,000 active MLIS students per semester.

What degree(s) do you offer?

See here.

Is it ALA accredited?

Yes.

What are the entrance requirements?

For the MLIS program, see here.

When was the library school founded?

See here.

Where are you?

As part of San Jose State University, the iSchool is physically located in California (Western US), but the online program is offered nationally and internationally.

Anything else you’d like to share?

All of the iSchool’s resources are focused on supporting online students, including its career counseling, academic advising, and technology support team.

iSchool instructors use emerging technology in their courses to enrich student learning in an engaging and interactive online environment. They exchange ideas and perspectives with students via live web conferences, recorded audio lectures, screencasts, emails, online discussion forums, blogs, Zoom meet-ups, instant messaging, and social networks. The multimedia format enlivens the learning experience while introducing students to the same types of tools they’ll use in their future careers.

This interview was conducted by Lauren Bauer, a current MLIS student at SJSU and the Managing Editor of Hack Library School.

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