Did you know that the iSchool’s Master’s in Library and Information Science with School Media Specialization has a career placement rate of 100% for 2015 graduates?* Or that it has a three-year rolling average career placement of 97%?
I first heard about the iSchool’s career success rate for LIS school media students while applying to grad school this past January. To be honest, I expected the rate to be much lower. I was still skeptical about the job search process after two years in the professional world in a non-library related position.
This made me curious. What made the LIS School Media program at the iSchool special? Why is our career placement rate so successful?
Recipe for Success
Here’s what I discovered. Our career placement success rate is thanks to a unique combination of job availability, job preparedness, and career development opportunities.
1. Job Availability
I started my inquiry by asking Barbara Stripling, Senior Associate Dean and Associate Professor of Practice, the questions I posed above. According to Barb, the school media program’s success is in part due to job availability. She told me that “First, districts all over the state have openings for certified school media specialists. But there aren’t enough candidates to fill all the positions.”
She’s right. School librarians are in high demand in many regions of New York State. Our 2015 grads found positions locally and state-wide at schools such as Chittenango Central School District, Cuyahoga County Public Library, LaFayette Central School District, Pompton Lakes School District, Syracuse City School District, and West Genesee Central School District.
2. Job Preparedness
“Second, and more importantly, our graduates are known for being very high quality – they are hired because they are outstanding.” – Barbara Stripling.
Our school media students are given the tools to be the ‘high quality’ and effective leaders Barb mentions due to our rigorous curriculum and learning outcomes. They are prepared and ready for the field.
Recently, I had the opportunity to talk to a few school media alums about their post-grad experiences. Here’s how the iSchool prepared them for their current positions:
Juan Rivera, Library Media Specialist at A. Philip Randolph Campus High School in West Harlem, New York:
“It positioned me to think about myself as an educational leader within my school and to be hooked into a Personal Learning Network. Librarianship is constantly changing. The program helped me think about how to be an educational leader and also helped me be more experimental in implementing digital tools.”
Penny Feeney, Library Media Specialist at Onondaga Middle School, Westhill CSD:
“The iSchool prepared me for my current position in a number of different ways. The focus on collaboration has helped me in all my interactions with my staff and students. The understanding that librarians have to be educational leaders and advocates in order for us to remain relevant in the field of education is essential in my work.”
“I also loved learning about all the new technologies that can be integrated into our jobs and teaching. I continually strive to be a leader of new technologies in my district. One of the most important things that I learned is how essential it is to involve your stakeholders in your library program. My students are an intrinsic part of the OHMS Library’s daily operations. They consistently give me feedback about what they like and want in the media center. Their ideas help fuel the passion and life of the OHMS Library!”
Lena Hillard, Library Media Specialist at New York City Public Schools:
“As a librarian I want to empower students with the knowledge to compete in the 21st century. Syracuse gave me a strong foundation to walk into my role as the media specialist and know how to turn a non-functional library into a vibrant learning hub. My iSchool education helped me to revive the library, obtain grants, plan school-wide library events, and outline a curriculum for the students that produces life-long readers. The program helped me become a media specialist with plans, goals, and a vision for my school community.”
3. Career Development
Besides job availability and preparedness, I also want to give credit to the iSchool’s unbelievable career development resources. I’ve always known that graduate school prepares you for a future professional field. But I never imagined that I would receive such a high caliber of career support so early in my academic career. The following resources play such an important role to connect school media students to jobs and career resources:
My inbox is full of emails from the iSchool’s dedicated Career Services team. They continuously offer resume workshops, provide one-on-one advising, and send local and national job postings (among other resources).
LISSA (Library and Information Science Student Association)
All library students are members of LISSA, the Library and Information Science Student Association. This semester, LISSA sponsored alumni panels with school librarians and held workshops on topics such as interviewing and professional portfolios. These resources were available for both online and on-campus learners.
NYLA (New York Library Association)
I had the opportunity to attend the New York Library Association conference in early November with my fellow LIS students. It was a weekend that deeply enhanced my knowledge of librarianship and allowed me to connect with Syracuse’s strong alumni network. Many of these alums worked in districts with open positions for School Media Specialists. If you’re an incoming student, I strongly recommend attending NYLA next year.
Even though I’ve only been at the iSchool for one semester, I have seen how job availability, job preparedness, and career development opportunities combine to create this success. I’m no longer skeptical of the iSchool’s 100% career placement rate for 2015 LIS School Media grads. I’m excited to see where our future grads end up.