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The 2018 TechTrek Chicago cohort outside of Jay Pritzker Pavilion | Syracuse University iSchool

TechTrek from Outside the Tech World: A Librarian’s Point of View

“I’m the library student. The most I know about the inner workings of the tech industry itself is what I read in journals and online.  I don’t know what questions to ask or how to even hold a conversation about how any of this works.”

This was my main thought at the start of TechTrek Chicago. As a library science student, my curriculum has focused on how to best help my community, ensure that I am able to hold my biases to the side for the sake of information for those asking for it, and create a well-balanced and engaging collection of items.

Going on TechTrek as an LIS Student

I don’t know how to fix a broken computer or how to run a company. I just wanted to see Chicago, a city I have wanted to visit and possibly relocate to for years. I wasn’t going to let something silly like a lack of knowledge of a subject stop me from an opportunity to see this beautiful city.

Now that I have spent several days with the program, it is interesting trying to find connections to my field. At purely face value, the visits to these tech companies and startups still makes me feel as if I am a small fish in a big pond. Others are listening and learning with smiles on their faces, asking engaging questions that are clearly giving them hope and information for their potential careers as entrepreneurs and technicians, while I am left thinking “Wait, what’s a VC now?” (It’s venture capital, by the way. The system works.)

Networking as a Librarian-in-Training

Despite this, I’m still fulfilling my goals for the program. I knew coming in that I didn’t think I’d find too many connections to my field. Two days in, I’ve lucked out through our sole alumni networking event, finding a couple people willing to connect with a librarian in training who is the “black sheep” of the program.

It also seems, according to our schedule, I’ll have several more of these networking opportunities to gain some connections and impress some people, as well as an entire Library Board-event’s worth of possible connections. My main goal was to see Chicago and learn more about this city, which is being achieved with flying colors.

Finding a Connection Between Entrepreneurship and Librarianship

I might be lost at times hearing these company representatives talk, but it’s still potentially beneficial to my career to at least hear out how these companies plan to progress. After all, the library industry has only survived due to the willingness to adapt to modern technology itself.

Having this inside look at an industry I know nothing about is a lot of things. Terrifying, exciting, mentally-exhausting, exhilarating, and so on. It’s a lot to take in over the course of a couple days when you’ve never learned a single thing about it outside your own basic research.

But am I learning? Yes. Do I think I’ll ever put this new entrepreneurial knowledge to use like my classmates on this trip? Who knows? But do I regret coming; despite my lack of knowledge, and despite being the “outsider” of the group? Absolutely not.


Keep Reading about TechTrek and Librarianship!

Scott Rue

Scott Rue

Scott Rue is a graduate student through the iSchool’s Library and Information Science Master’s program. He completed his undergraduate work at SUNY Albany, majoring in United States History. Scott has always had an interest in technology and saw the TechTrek trip as an opportunity not only to see Chicago, but also to learn more about how technology startups work, the challenges they may face, and how they may be implemented into the Library Science field. Scott will be graduating this December and plans on attempting to return to Chicago for a career after this experience.

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