Position Title: Business Systems Analyst
Employer: The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center
Degree/Year: MSIS, 2011
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I quickly learned in the iSchool that “librarian” is a very loose, broadly defined term. It doesn’t just apply to someone who technically works in a library. These skills I have spill over into so many professions.
Q: Regarding coursework, what was your focus when you were at the iSchool?
A: I was a student there for two years and during that time my skills set hovered around health informatics and records management. The rest was a really nicely balanced, useful “hodgepodge.”
Q: What kind of job do you have now?
A: I’m a Knowledge Management Specialist at Baker Hughes – and that’s “Hughes” as in Howard Hughes. Major corporations like BP, ExxonMobil, Chevron and Shell use our company’s technology and services to get oil out of the ground. I focus on content management – specifically, my team provides platforms for collaboration to product lines. Then I work with the product line to migrate content, make the information more findable, and prevent duplication of content and effort. I educate the product line in best practices for creating and maintaining their information and in how to configure their platform in such a way that it’s engaging for the users. If it’s engaging, that encourages the community of users to fully adopt the platform as their one-stop-shop.
Q: In this current job, how are you using the skills you gained at the iSchool?
A: This may be a long answer, but here are some iSchool classes – and the skills gained in them - that translated perfectly to a knowledge management career:
USER STUDIES – Lots of managers think they know what their users want, but most of the time they’ve never talked to those users. I’ve employed skills gained in this class to gather feedback in a number of ways, from focus groups to surveys. Because of what I learned in that class, I have a heightened awareness of those occasions when someone says they’ve talked to users and gained feedback, but they haven’t. Thank you, Dr. Luis Revilla!
RECORDS MANAGEMENT – One of the biggest problems corporations have is with document hoarding. People not only save things forever, but they also save five copies of each document because they’re afraid of losing something. My records management class helped me determine the right questions to ask about why so much is being saved and decide what to retain versus what should be discarded. Thank you, Dr. Ciaran Trace!
CLASSIFICATION – If you’re going to be getting your hands dirty in the real world with things like metadata and taxonomy, you need this class, even if the content seems a little bit difficult for you. A significant part of my job centers on digital classification and helping people tag their documents so they can be searched or filtered far more efficiently. If you know anything about metadata or taxonomy, you will definitely want to put that on your resume – your “hireability” will skyrocket!
INFORMATICS: With informatics knowledge, you’re able to analyze the ways that users are searching and browsing for information. This is an incredibly valuable skill and, if you have it, you can sit in a room with your users, obtain some analytical data on what they’re seeking, and then shape document and data platforms around that. Thank you Dr. Yan Zhang!
Q: What’s your take on the career possibilities for someone with an iSchool degree?
A: My opinion is that the possibilities are endless. When you do get out in the real world and get a job, the longer you use the skills that you picked up in the iSchool, the more you see gaps in processes that you can fix, data management platforms that can make data more searchable, records that need retention schedules – and on and on. As I grow in my own career, I repeatedly see managers and executives scratch their heads, unaware that an iSchooler is the perfect solution for the problems they’re facing today. Most employers need iSchoolers, whether they know it or not, and many are willing to pay very good money to get their hands on an iSchool graduate!
Q: What advice would you offer an iSchool student who’s starting to think about life after school and contemplating career paths?
A: I firmly believe that without undergoing an internship and the mandatory capstone project in the iSchool, a lot of students could feel lost and fail to see how their class choices directly translate into careers. iSchool students need to be groomed to recognize potential opportunities in organizations that have a need for their skills.
The career guidance and assistance offered by the iSchool’s Tara Iagulli were invaluable for me. I can truly say I wouldn’t be where I am today without that help. Because I had Tara’s help, I landed an amazing internship with Tokyo Electron, which was one of the most blessed experiences of my life. Without her help, my resume would have fallen short as well and I don’t think I would have the job that I have now
Q: Any special words of wisdom for those out there who, like you, are specifically interested in pursuing careers in knowledge management?
A: On your resume, place the word “global” everywhere. Having experience working with a diverse workforce – like I did when I was an intern with Tokyo Electron – will get you hired. It caught my boss’s attention the minute he saw my resume!
Also, show concrete examples of “hand-holding.” You may find yourself working with numerous employees who are within five years of retirement, for example, and many of them are being introduced to lots of things they don’t understand. Show examples of how you can guide staff through these sorts of changes and employers will love you! I’d also recommend incorporating the following buzzwords liberally on your resume and in your interviews: content migration, metadata, taxonomy and governance.
Q: Do you consider yourself a librarian and your skills those of a librarian?
A: I quickly learned in the iSchool that “librarian” is a very loose, broadly defined term. It doesn’t just apply to someone who technically works in a library. These skills I have spill over into so many professions. Few people realize, until they’re firmly ensconced in their jobs, that they are, in fact, librarians regardless of what their specific title is.