Career Newsletter, 11/17/2016

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Explaining Your Degree to Your Family

“The iSchool…is that related to Apple?”

Explaining the Information School can be difficult. Tell someone you study here and you’re likely to get a question similar to the above. With the holidays approaching, these situations might become more frequent. Today’s newsletter offers some ideas on how you can talk about your degree to family and friends — and potentially employers! — who are unfamiliar with our academic programs.

General approaches

“I’m studying the relationship between information, technology, and people. I’m taking classes in [computer programming, website development, knowledge organization, cataloging, etc.].”

“My degree is interdisciplinary — we learn from professors that come from a range of industries, like technology, psychology, business, and education.”

“I’m studying how information is used by people and organizations, and how it impacts social and technical problems. This quarter, we’re [analyzing social behaviors in networking, creating websites that help English-learners find information about UW resources, studying the role of libraries in developing nations, etc.].”

An Informatics student might say…

“My degree is going to help me get a job where I design and build technology that makes information more accessible.”

From Program Chair Scott Barker and former iSchool Dean Mike Eisenberg: “Informatics is a high-tech, high-touch field that uses information and technology (computers, devices, the Internet) to make things better — at work, in society, and in individuals’ lives.”

An MSIM student might say…

“I’m studying information management and specializing in data science coursework. Data scientists use the scientific method to create meaning from data, which can then be used for research purposes, and in both the for- and non-profit sectors.”

“Have you ever been shopping on Amazon and noticed the ‘Customers Who Bought This Item Also Bought’ section? The website automatically makes these suggestions based off the findings of data scientists who have studied customers’ buying behaviors.”

From a former MSIM student: “My degree will enable me to be armed with the requisite skills and knowledge needed to work in technology management and consulting.”

An LIS student might say…

“I want to be a librarian, and my program helps me develop the requisite skills and obtain the necessary accreditation.”

“My degree focuses on the ways people create, capture, change, and share information. We take classes focusing on the ways we do this with both physical and non-physical information.”

“In class, we look at the ways people analyze, classify, and protect information. In the real world, these concepts apply to things like organizing websites, smartphone apps, databases, and collections of books or artifacts.”

A PhD student might say…

“My PhD is in Information Science, where I study human involvement with information, and the social and technological implications. My specific research area focuses on…”

From a current PhD student: “I often start by saying that we are very interdisciplinary. ‘We have humanists, social scientists, scientists, engineers, designers, etc.’ Giving examples of research projects has helped a lot. And I admit to using the ‘We look at just about anything, with an information lens’ line.”

These are all more informal talking points that can be used to explain your degree in casual settings. However, as I briefly mentioned, you’ll occasionally find employers who are unfamiliar with what, exactly, is taught here. These examples can be consulted when developing more in-depth, technical explanations for employers. If you need help doing something like this, Alycia and I can help.

We’re also curious to hear from you — how do you talk about your degree when people ask? Leave a comment below or email us!

Upcoming events:


(Please RSVP via iCareers for any iSchool event you plan to attend, unless otherwise noted.)

11/17: MLIS Online Career Chat; 6:00 – 7:00pm, online

Join Alycia online to talk about career in the library and information science field.

Career & Internship Center

11/18: Interviewing Lab; 2:30 – 3:20pm, MGH 134

11/22: LinkedIn Lab for International Students; 3:30 – 4:20pm, MGH 134


01/19: 2017 Science and Technology Showcase; 5:00 – 7:00pm, Anthony’s Forum (Dempsey Hall)

Are you working on a technology that has potential for commercialization? Participating in STS allows you to further explore the commercialization potential of your science- and technology-based ideas by presenting them to an audience of fellow scientists and engineers, MBA students, and a panel of judges that includes prominent entrepreneurs and investors form the Seattle business community. Apply using the above link.

For additional events, visit the iSchool and Career Center websites.

Top job/internship opportunities:

  • Emerging Talent – Software, Yahoo! Inc.; HuskyJobs ID 109349
  • Full Stack Software Engineer/Developer, SG2 Recruiting; iCareers ID 5468
  • Reference Services Coordinator, Wake Forest University; iCareers ID 5472
  • Apple Product Documentation Instructional Design Intern, Apple; iCareers ID 5470
  • 2017 Internship, Yahoo! Inc.; HuskyJobs ID 109351

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