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MiUPA Internet User Experience 2010 Conference - Ann Arbor - July 24-29

The Michigan UPA is proud to co-sponsor the sixth annual Internet User Experience conference (IUE2010).

Here is a sampling of what will occur:

Keynote talks by Peter Morville, Susan Weinschenk, and Dan Klyn 40 presentations and panel sessions covering a range of topics including web site design, social media, content management, usability methods, eye-tracking research, and the evolution and ideal future of internet devices.

10 training tutorials on personas, storyboarding, focus groups, accessibility, and usability testing.

Demonstrations, exhibits, a bookstore, podcast recording, and a pub crawl.

Drawings for three copies of Axure protototyping software.

This conference begins on the last day of the Ann Arbor Street Art Fair (www.artfair.org), the Michigan Beerfest, and other exciting events.

Where else can you get so much training and networking and have so much fun in one place?

Conference details and registration information are available at www.miupa.org and www.iue2010.com.

See you there!

Posted by kkowatch on June 30, 2010 at 10:17 AM | Comments (0)

The Importance of Cover Letters

The Importance of Cover Letters in a Tough Market — Regardless of What Industry You are Targeting

Recently, a few SI alumni, who are also active recruiting employers for SI interns and MSI grads, recently contacted the SI Career Development Office with some feedback on the quality of cover letters they were getting from SI students. We were given permission to share this information with you so that you are putting your best effort forward in your job search. While this feedback is critical—please take it as constructive advice to learn from as it is our intention to prepare you for job search success.

MYTH: A tailored cover letter is only necessary for library or archives jobs, and not that important for corporate positions—say in the area of HCI or more technical-related positions.

FACT: In a tough market, any and all marketing materials (resume, cover letter and portfolio) are being evaluated closely by employers. Now more than ever, BECAUSE competition is fierce, in some instances, more importance is being placed on the cover letter to determine qualifications, motivation, and interest. This is one of your few chances to stand out!

Below are a few testimonials from SI alumni/employers on the quality of cover letters they have evaluated recently…

”I recently finished going through a couple of stacks of resumes and cover letters for a professional position that I am hiring for and I relied HEAVILY on the quality of the cover letter to help distinguish the star candidates. I probably had about 10 recent grads who had adequate and similar skills/experience, but they didn’t take the time to write a quality cover letter. Without the added context a good cover letter can provide, I found that they were easy to cut from the running in favor of the applicants who expressed enthusiasm and strong interest in the organization AND the position in their letters. “

“A cover letter that is sprinkled with language pulled directly from the job description stands out to me, and makes me want to read on and pay close attention to the resume. It’s easy to see that the candidate ACTUALLY took the time to read and understand the job description, and made it easy on me by providing examples that bridged what we were looking for to what they had done. Those are the cover letters that stand out—and almost certainly lead to an interview.”

“Make sure to stress to students the importance of a well-written cover letter (free of spelling and grammatical errors) that tells a story and provides examples of their skills, accomplishments, and qualifications DIRECTLY TIED to what is being sought on the job posting. Employers EXPECT SI students to have excellent graduate-level writing skills. A poorly written cover letter is a very bad first impression. “

Set Yourself Up For Success

For those that are targeting the corporate world, it’s tricky to know when a cover letter is essential, but it’s better to err on the side of overly prepared, than not prepared enough. A good cover letter can only help. IT WILL NOT HURT your chances of getting the job. While some HR recruiters at a job fair might indicate that cover letters are separated from resumes and may not even be looked at, keep in mind that is usually the case in that type of setting. For that type of event, where hundreds of students are passing out resumes to HR recruiters, that is the best way for them to manage their pool. Understanding the goal/intention of a networking event such as a job fair is different than applying directly to a job from a posting (where a tailored cover letter should accompany every resume you send out—whether the job posting asks for it or not).

Writing a thoughtful and strategic cover letter is not easy. It’s a developed skill. So if this is your first cover letter writing experience, it will take time to develop a good one. TAKE THE TIME to write one that is not generic, and that is directly tied to the job posting. Express your enthusiasm and interest for the job AND the organization in a genuine and authentic way. The more cover letters you write, the easier it gets. By taking this approach, you are only increasing your chances of being called for an interview, and for ultimate job search success!

For examples of MSI cover letters, go to SI Career Development Resume and Cover Letter Guide.

For more on the topic of whether to include a cover letter in your next job application, find out what other career experts are saying…

When is a Cover Letter Necessary When it Comes to Applying For Job Opportunities?

Do You Need a Cover Letter?

Make Your Cover Letter Count in a Competitive Market

Cover Letter Resources for Job Seekers

If you need help writing a good cover letter, we can help! Set up an appointment at si.careers@umich.edu.

Posted by kkowatch on June 22, 2010 at 09:15 AM | Comments (1)

Three SI Students Awarded the CIC Stipend for Summer Internships

Three SI students were awarded 2010 CIC Internship Stipend for their summer internship opportunities. These students are taking part in an unpaid or low paying CI/CIC-related internship opportunity and have demonstrated experience in the CI specialization and/or the Community Information Corps (CIC).

Carrie Nusbaum will spend the summer working at the United Nations Asian and Pacific Training Centre for Information and Communication Technology for Development (UN-APCICT/ESCAP) in Incheon, Republic of Korea. During July 2010 the Director of APCICT will deliver a presentation to Confederation of Asia-Pacific Chambers of Commerce and Industry (CACCI) Conference on ICT-based Trade and Transportation Facilitation (TTF). Carrie will conduct research on ICT-TTF, prepare a Background Paper to be referenced during the conference panel discussion, and prepare a survey to be administered to conference participants. Within the coming months, APCICT will also develop and launch an online resource centre devoted to its Academy Partners throughout the Asia-Pacific. Carrie will support the project coordinator by researching and presenting design mock-ups, provide feedback on web designer proposals, facilitate the development of content, troubleshoot website errors, and promote the launch of the new online portal.

Sarah Pipes, an Intern with the Central European University Center for Media and Communications Studies (CMCS) in Budapest, Hungary, will be responsible for the collection of the country contributors’ input to the European Privacy and Human Rights report, the consolidation of existing networks and establishment of new liaisons in Europe, and the review, consolidation and editing of the reports. Through this internship, Sarah will acquire an understanding of European privacy frameworks and will help to draft the project report and documentation required to close the project.

Andrew (Drew) Gordon, the third SI student to receive the CIC award, will spend the summer working with the Media & Democracy Coalition in Washington, D.C. The Media and Democracy Coalition is a coalition of more than thirty organizations that work to amplify the public’s voice in media and communications policy. There, Drew will be exposed to the many facets of the way that communications policy is made. He will be developing and executing campaign materials and plans (including social media) in targeted Congressional districts to educate and move members of the House Commerce Telecom Subcommittee towards progressive media policy in addition to representing the Coalition as a whole during visits to Congressional offices with MADCO staffers, assist in the preparation for and planning for these visits, and communication with members around the country on policy initiatives and political situation here in Congress and on the Hill.

Posted by kkowatch on June 15, 2010 at 03:28 PM | Comments (0)

Consider the CIA for your Future Information Career

Last week, I spent two days in metro Washington, D.C. (in Reston) at the CIA (United States Central Intelligence Agency) learning about the Open Source Center (OSC. The OSC is an innovative unit of the CIA which houses the CIA library and also employs several of UMSI’s alumni. I was joined by faculty and staff from various universities around the United States including the University of Texas at Austin, North Carolina Central University, Ohio State University, Brown, Yale, Howard, the Monterey Institute for International Studies and the National Security Education Program.

On the first day, after battling DC traffic and being granted access to the Langley Headquarters, we received an overview of the OSC. The OSC is composed of three main professional types: Librarians, Geographers, and Open Source Officers also known as Foreign Media Analysts. I think that it’s important to state the the CIA’s definition of Open Source is different than that of what we commonly toss around SI (which would be referring to open source or free software and resources). Open Source at the CIA refers to public information, or “intelligence” that is used for gaining information on the activities going on in the world. The employees of the OSC review and evaluate everything from newspapers, journal articles, websites, international databases, and gray literature to blogs, Twitter feeds, Facebook accounts, and other forms of internet content to maintain national security, advise the President, and inform various other intelligence agencies.

Whether or not you are currently interesting in working in the intelligence community of the United States, I think that it’s worthwhile to consider this agency as a viable employer. Both the librarian and Open Source Officer positions are ideal for those with Information degrees. You can read more about both positions at the following websites:

The librarians function in a environment that is much like a small academic library. They have positions in reference, technical operations, acquisitions, and training. However, both positions provide the opportunity to work in a cutting-edge environment, make a serious contribution to the world in the work that you do, experience a significant amount of responsibility from almost the day you start, participate in a widely varied set of job responsibilities both immediately and for the long-term, and also have the benefit of high salaries and job security. Also, if you have international experience or interests and language proficiency, which is a requirement for and Open Source Officer and highly preferred for the Librarian role, you will find a career at the CIA that highly values your commitment to perfecting this skill set.

Following the overview of the OSC, we received a tour of the library and then traveled to the Inter-Agency Training Facility, a space that houses the Open Source Academy. There, I learned about the wide range of courses that are offered to all federal and some state employees on how to do open source research and analysis. I was able to get a snap-shot of the information that employees are trained including a variety of research tools and source evaluation techniques in support of open source tradecraft. I must say, it was fascinating and wish that I could actually participate in the class as I think that the skills gained would be valuable and interesting to any information professional.

The CIA-OSC provided me with a core set of curricular preferences that I encourage future applicants to consider when making curricular choices. In order to be a competitive candidate, you should incorporate the following skills and abilities into your academic schedule:

--Media Studies: emerging media and traditional media sources, professional literature;
--Information Science: policy and legalities; information assurance, security and the Internet, library databases, etc;
--Geospatial Information: basic knowledge of geography, geospatial tools, and related analysis
--Language: listening and reading comprehension at the 300 level in at least one foreign language;
--Collection: identifying, monitoring, collecting, and evaluating information sources;
--Research: deep-dive data mining, Internet search tools, and database searching;
--Critical-Thinking and the Analytic Process: identify trends; assessing media environments; exploiting media, multimedia, etc; analytic writing, analytic methodologies and analytic tools; and critical thinking; and
--Writing, Presentation, and General Communication Skills.

Within SI, all specializations lend well to the skills required above. A few strategically selected cognates will round out the MSI to make any interested candidate a competitive choice for the Open Source Center.

I also want to point out that the CIA is making strong efforts to increase their diversity. They have several affinity groups that employees can be part of including the Agency Network for Gay and Lesbian Employees (ANGLE), the Asian Pacific American Organization, the Black Executive board, the Blacks in Government (BIG) UMOJA Chapter, the Deaf and Hard of Hearing Advisory Committee, the Hispanic Advisory Council, the Native American Council, the Near East Affinity Group, the disability Advisory Panel, the United Greeks, and the DI Woman’s’ Council. I also learned that the CIA has a generous and competitive benefits package that supports same-sex couples and provides pet insurance!

The CIA recruits for 94 different professional positions. Beyond the ones that I’ve highlighted above, if you are an MSI, Doctoral student of Information, or an Informatics student, I also recommend that you consider the following positions as career and internship options as the information degree sets one up for success in a variety of different career options beyond that of the Open Source Center. Although just about any specialization would fit for these positions, I am going to add specializations that I think would be better fits for some:

Intelligence Collection Analyst (LIS, IPOL)
Analytic Methodologist (ICD)
Core Collector - Clandestine Service and Professional Trainee Programs
Graphic Designer - Interactive Multimedia Emphasis (HCI)
Multimedia Specialist (HCI)
Knowledge and Information Management Officer - Developmental and Full Performance (LIS, ARM, IAR)
Information Review and Release Officer - Developmental and Full Performance (LIS, IPOL)
Applications Developer
Information Systems Security Officer (IPOL, IAR)

You can also check out Student or Internship opportunities at https://www.cia.gov/careers/student-opportunities/index.html. Note that internship deadlines are early (i.e October), so plan accordingly.

Posted by kkowatch on June 14, 2010 at 04:18 PM | Comments (0)

UMSI Seeking SI 501 / Information Process Redesign Clients

Have you often been frustrated by the way information gets passed -- or not passed -- along in your organization? Is there an information flow that could be more effective or efficient if it were analyzed, key issues were identified, and you were provided a set of recommendations for improvement?

If so, we invite your participation in “Contextual Inquiry and Project Management” a 14-week client-based course at the University of Michigan School of Information (http://si.umich.edu/). For this course, Master’s students perform an in-depth analysis of a process flow of organizational information use from several perspectives at no cost to your organization. (The course description and more examples of past SI 501 clients and projects are available at http://si.umich.edu/courses/501/).

Past projects have included:

• The analysis of information flow that occurs between a board of directors and volunteers at a local wildlife care organization, from the processing of incoming reports regarding injured mammals on through to the placement and care of the animals

• The review of a health clinic’s telephone queue and voicemail system, establishing a formal protocol for routing phone calls and messages from patients, medical specialists, pharmacists, funders, and vendors to appropriate staff

• An examination of how a government agency plans, creates, and disseminates information about current events and projects to regional employees to encourage collaboration and decrease the duplication of effort among employees

• An evaluation of how information flows in a product development organization from the generation of new ideas, through market research, finance, to the actual development of the product

• The study of a public library's process to acquire and weed materials among its three branches

In order to be eligible, your organization must meet the following criteria:

• Have a formal or informal information process already in place, that needs improvement
• Provide 5-10 people who are involved in the process and willing and able to be interviewed by the student team

If you are interested in learning more, please reply by Friday June 18, 2010 and I'll follow up with additional information.

Feel free to forward this email on to any colleagues, clients, or friends who would be interested in this opportunity. Ixchel Faniel, Assistant Professor at the School of Information, and her SI 501 instruction team are looking forward to another great semester of client consulting projects, and we hope you will join us!


Kelly A. Kowatch, Assistant Director
University of Michigan School of Information
Career Development Office
(734) 936-8735

Posted by kkowatch on June 03, 2010 at 04:31 PM | Comments (0)