Career Newsletter, 11/16/2017

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Explaining Your Degree

Explaining what goes on at the iSchool can be difficult. Tell someone you study here and you could get any number of responses — questions about how your major differs from computer science to confused looks about when Apple released a new product. Information technology, science, and management are nuanced fields and not always well understood by the general public.

The ability to explain your degree can not only help satisfy inquisitive relatives at the Thanksgiving table, it will allow you to better convince employers you’re the right person for the job. Today’s newsletter offers some ideas on how you can talk about your studies to family, friends, and employers unfamiliar with our academic programs.

General approaches

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

“Informatics is an interdisciplinary program that dives into areas like computer science, sociology, design, and information management. I’m pursuing the human-computer interaction concentration with the hope of finding a career that lets me work on improving the usability of tech products.”

From former 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 individuals’ lives.”

An MSIM student might say…

“My master’s degree is in information management, where we cover key areas like leadership, professionalism, information technology, ethics and policy, and problem solving. My specific focus is in [business intelligence, data science, user experience, etc.], which involves studying…”

“I’m studying information management and specializing in data science coursework. Data scientists use the scientific method to create meaning from data. 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 of the findings of data scientists who have studied customers’ buying behaviors.”

From a former MSIM student:

“My degree will help 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 mostly informal talking points but they can be the basis for a more in-depth, technical explanation you provide to an employer. If you need help developing such an answer, feel free to reach out to one of our career advisors.

We’re also curious to hear from you — have you found an explanation for your degree that’s particularly effective? Let us know via email if so.

Upcoming events


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

11/29: Building Relationships in Information Science; 6:00 – 6:30, online

Join Alycia for a workshop that will provide you with some basic tools you can use to approach library professionals, ask good questions, and stay in contact for future conversations.

UW Career & Internship Center

11/16: Career Launch Workshop; 3:00 – 4:30pm, MGH 134

11/17: Resume Lab; 2:30 – 3:20pm, MGH 134

11/27: EY InfoSession; 6:00 – 7:30pm, MGH 134

11/28: Grad Students: Academic Careers – Interviews; 4:00 – 5:00pm, THO 125

11/29: Grad Students: Academic Careers – Job Talks; 4:00 – 5:00pm, SMI 211

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

Top job/internship opportunities

  • Data Analytics Intern, AT&T; iCareers ID 6857
  • Implementation Intern, Fast Enterprises; HuskyJobs ID 120810
  • Software Developer – Internship, College Access Now; iCareers ID 6885
  • Associate Application Developer – Software Development Program, AT&T; iCareers ID 6860
  • Digital Engineer, Nike; HuskyJobs ID 120950
  • Data Scientist, Medic Mobile; iCareers ID 6868
  • Asset Management Specialist, Gates Archive; iCareers ID 6861
  • Assistant Curator for Digital Outreach, John Carter Brown Library; iCareers ID 6900

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