Advice / Experiences / introductions

The benefit of experience: 5 tips from a returning MI

By Rachel Lee

As I return to the iSchool this year, I have the opportunity to look back and consider what I can do differently to get even more out of the experience. Here are some tips from my list. I hope that they will help guide you through a smooth and successful semester!

  1. Don’t be intimidated by the frenzy of course selection. Did you spend days painstakingly creating your perfect course schedule, and sign on to ACORN/ROSI at 6 in the morning on your scheduled course selection date, only to find that some or all of your first choice courses are full? Don’t despair! Chances are, if you’re struggling to get into a required or popular course that early on, others are too. Make use of the waiting list! The school is generally very good at adding or expanding sections for in-demand courses, so don’t give up on that class you’ve been looking forward to until the initial round of registration has died down and they’ve had a chance to make changes.
  2. Embrace presentations. The sight of this term in a course syllabus can bring on panic in the best of us, but these projects give us a chance to practice important career skills in a safe environment.
    A class I once took required me to write a paper every week. By the end of the semester, my initial anxiety had transformed into a smooth confidence. I was producing worthy papers in hours that would have taken days to produce before I had started the course. Practice really does make things easier. Similarly, if you have a fear of public speaking, I recommend volunteering to present at every opportunity you can. An audience of your peers understands exactly what you’re going through, and are there to learn, not to judge. The more presentations you complete, the less intimidating they will seem, and the more confident you will be exploring different presentation tools and methods to find a style that works well for you.
  3. Make group work work for you. One tip I learned last year that I find really helpful, for life in general and for group work specifically, is to have a better understanding of your own personality type. Knowing how you fit into a group can help you decide which parts of the project you’re best suited for, and can also help you plan how to deal with any conflict that comes up. Remember to respect your group members! The information profession can be a tightly knit one, and working on a group project can be a great chance to network with people you may not otherwise talk to.
  4. Mingle. In a profession that can work almost anywhere, the people you know can connect you to opportunities you may never have heard of otherwise. The iSchool knows this, and makes an effort to arrange many networking opportunities to students, from monthly career panel and networking events to practicum courses, job shadowing and co-op opportunities. Don’t forget to introduce yourself to your classmates!
  5. Be kind to yourself. Keeping up with course workloads, networking, and constantly challenging yourself to grow can become overwhelming! Many of us also have jobs and other outside commitments that affect the amount of time we can dedicate to school work. Know that it’s okay not to be perfect! Ultimately, we are all here to learn, grow, and enhance ourselves and our professions, none of which could happen if we were already perfect.

I hope that these tips help you make the most of your time at the iSchool. I can already tell that this year will be a great one. Good luck!


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