March 22, 2009
SI Visiting Days 2009
Right now we're smack-dab in the middle of Visiting Days, which is an annual occurrence when SI invites all newly-admitted students to spend a weekend in Ann Arbor getting a feel for the city and the campus, and meeting current students, faculty and staff. I spent most of yesterday talking with some of these prospective SI-ers about life, the Universe and everything and I thought I'd share some of the common themes for anyone who couldn't visit, hasn't applied or been admitted yet, or just may be interested anyway.
-What is a typical full-time courseload?
--Most students take 12 credits per semester, though some may take slightly more (maybe 13.5) or slightly less if they're ahead due to a for-credit summer internship. Some classes require more or less time than others, but a good rule of thumb is that 4 3-credit courses should take up about the same amount of time as a full-time job (40 hour/week). This can be helpful when deciding how many hours to work at a part-time job, or how many classes to take if you are a part-time student.
-How soon do I need to settle on a specialization? How easy is it to switch or add another specialization?
--Within the first year, it's pretty easy to switch specializations. They don't allow you to switch during your first semester (this is a good way to make sure you've thought about it a bit before you do it),but afte that the process is pretty simple (it inolves a well-placed email). Adding a second specialization requires a meeting with a student services staff member in which you must show your plan for getting all of the required course work done, and that's it. Pretty easy. There's enough overlap in many specializations that most people have no problem switching as long as they've started to plan for their new semester by the time they determine their third semester schedule.
-How did you find your part-time job?
--I've found two part-time jobs through the SI email list. Staff, faculty, students and alumni will post to the list when they know about (or are hiring for) positions of relevance to SI students. In general, I had no problem finding work once I was here, as SI students have a pretty good reputation on campus.
-I want to be a (*insert career choice here*), what classes should I take?
--There aren't tracks for most SI-related courses-not because SI won't prepare you to do those jobs, but because SI provides you with the toolkit, and SI students are the ones who use mold their coursework (papers and projects) towards their interests, and seek out internships and part-time work that will further enrich their skill set. However, SI does have helpful suggestions in their "MSI Pathways to Success" (http://www.si.umich.edu/pathways/), which lists helpful courses, internships and research for certain career paths. Otherwise, two suggested ways to find out what you should do to prepare for the career of your choice is a)talk to someone who is in that career-see what they suggest course- and internship-wise, and b)find some job postings for positions you'd like, and see what skills potential employers are seeking.
Just a reminder: you don't have to wait for Visiting Days to visit SI-we schedule campus visits all year round. A typical visit often involves lunch with a current student, and a meeting with at least one member of the SI Admissions team. Students also sit in on classes (during the school year), meet with faculty (when possible), or visit other campus resources of interest to them (such as specific libraries or departments). Just email firstname.lastname@example.org a week or two before you plan on coming to Ann Arbor to arrange a visit.
So, that's it for me today. Have a nice weekend everyone-that beautiful spring weather is right around the corner!
March 02, 2009
ASB-Brooklyn Public Library
Last week was spring break, and wouldn't you know it-instead of relaxing and catching up on my laundry or house cleaning, I was off to NYC to spend a week working in the Brooklyn Public Library.
Last year I had a really great experience at the Smithsonian Museum of American History, processing an archival collection and getting a general feel for what that sort of work is really like. It was very well structured, and I learned a lot without spending an entire summer shackled to one project. However, one the of the things I learned was that I was not an archivist. I'm one of those crazy people that kind of enjoyed my time as a waitress, liked my service jobs (sometimes) and really wants to see a wide variety of people in my everyday work...and February is a much better time to figure that out, as opposed to, say...August.
This year I took a similar strategy into choosing my ASB project. I know that I would like to work in a public library or in some sort of learning-centered position. I've gotten a lot of experiences in Adult Services or in instructional technology. However, I really haven't done much with youth services. Sure, I'd done a storytime or two on the Bookmobile, but I hadn't really paid my dues in Youth Services. So I put a project in the YA department of the Brooklyn Public Library on the top of my list-making a pathfinder about humorous books. Funny? I can handle that. Information resources? Right up my alley. Kids? Let's give it a go!
My supervisor had a scheduling conflict, so we only worked together in the middle of the week, but she found some other people for me to shadow and therefore I was able to get an idea of the different experiences everyone was having (YA librarians also spend time in the Juvenile dept, so I got a feel for both). I learned a bit more about Novelist, a database I'd only used briefly in my time at the Ypsi library. It was a mini collection development project, in a way, so I got a chance to become more familiar with their system (which they say has a pretty popular setup, so I should see it in the future), do a little graphic design and sink my teeth into some teen literature. It seems I had a few more skills than they'd expected, so I needed a bit less guidance and therefore got the project done a bit early. That gave me time to see a little more of each of the reference desks, tour the library, and sit in on toddler, 'tween and teen programming. Heck, I got to play Rock Band with some 14 year-olds, not to shabby for a working break.
The end result was similar, but somewhat reversed from last year. I really liked my time in youth services, and though I'm not quite ready to turn my back on dreams of helping adults self-educate, there's something enticing about getting in on the ground level and revisiting my former teaching aspirations. When I got back to Ann Arbor I contacted the head of Youth Services at the Ypsi library to see if she'd be willing to spare me some desk time. I'll let you know how it works out-it may lead to a whole new direction for me.