New students at the iSchool had an early opportunity to explore life outside of classes at the school’s Involvement Fair last Thursday.
Representatives from organizations based in the iSchool set up tables and booths in Hinds Hall, letting students mingle in between their classes. The school funds over 15 different organizations, according to Kathryn Allen, the iSchool’s assistant dean of student and career services.
“We’ve never counted, but between 11 to 2, when classes let out, it can get pretty full in [Hinds Hall],” Allen said.
The iSchool organizations that were featured at the Involvement Fair spread across different disciplines and majors, as well as catering to minority students. Most organizations focus on expanding professional and social networks, according to the school’s website.
Regardless of what organization iSchool students chose to join on Thursday, one club they were definitely in was BeIt. BeIt serves as an umbrella organization that provides social and academic opportunities for students. BeIt also sponsors and partners with other iSchool organizations such as Women in Technology. Vice President Megan Nguyen joined as a freshman, and says that one of BeIt’s biggest draws is how it can help students find the concentration they want to make a career out of.
“For me, I wanted to go into social media marketing,” Nguyen said. “So I started off by making posts on social media and posters, then I became the director of marketing, and now I’m vice president.”
Organizations with a slightly narrower scope include black and Latinx Information Science and Technology Support, or BLISTS, which serves black and Latinx students. According to president Hawa Touray, a senior information management and technology major, BLISTS was founded in 1992 to address high dropout rates of black and Latinx students at the iSchool, according to current president Hawa Touray
“Throughout the years I’ve been a student here, I’ve actually seen more and more black and Latino students,” said Touray. “We’re hoping we can bring in more freshmen in addition to transfer students.”
Touray said that ideas for career workshops are still in the works for BLISTS, but that the organization will release a schedule soon.
The Involvement Fair also had plenty of opportunities for graduate students. The graduate umbrella organization, iSchool Graduate Organization, had a prime spot in the middle of Hinds Hall, according to president Rohan Nitin Mahajan. Mahajan, who is a second-year applied data science student, said that in his experience, graduate students tend to sign up for many organizations, as they have less time on campus than undergraduates.
“The fair is really helpful in that regard,” Mahajan said. “[Grad students] want to make the most of our time on campus, so we tend to sign up for a lot of organizations at once.”
iSGO helps graduate students take their first steps towards a career. Mahajan said that the organization plans to expand a mentorship program that they pioneered last spring, where a second-year graduate student is partnered with an incoming student. There are also plans to have internship and job fairs.
Allen said she hoped students would be proactive when contacting organizations to join. “It can be a little intimidating to make the first approach,” she said, “but if they weren’t interested in you, they wouldn’t be there.”
The iSchool held its Career Fair the following Tuesday. Individual student organizations are planning followup meetings in the coming weeks.