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Hopes and fears of digital wizards

By Sarah Davenport, on 12 November 2013

A blog post by Kate Kozhevnikova (MA in Electronic Communication and Publishing, 2012-13).

This is just a beginning – that’s what most Master’s students realize when they recover from a long-time celebration after submitting dissertations in September. Every single bit of energy, dedication, courage, intelligence has been put into completing the course and now what is next? Another round of hard work, apparently!

Most of us recent graduates initially decided to go for a year of intense study hoping that a Master’s degree would help us in finding our dream job. In addition, for many DH, ECP and IS students these programmes were a way to find a digital passion, to get a ticket into the trendy world of digital media with hipster web designers and geeky developers and then try to fit into their space.

As we all aware, finding jobs is a long and complicated process, especially considering the current job market condition. Therefore, I want to share some wisdom and advice from my classmates and myself, all of whom work in London. Let me introduce them first: Kate Fitzpatrick, Global Category Manager at Pearson; Alana Coates, Insight Analyst, focusing on UX research at Wilson Fletcher, me aka Kate Kozhevnikova, SEO and Content Executive at momondo, working mostly on the Russian site and Yvonne Spiliopoulou, volunteering as a Web Team Editorial Assistant at British Museum.

You have probably heard most of what we are about to say before but it is worth reading because we walked 10 miles in your shoes, went through the same experience you are about to have, and it never hurts to remember some simple things.

Choose the right modules. The list might look overwhelming and you have probably already chosen all the modules that looked appealing to you, but it is very important to ask your tutor or advisors within the department which ones would fill your knowledge and skills gaps. Also, have a look at the modules outside the department that are available to DIS students. For instance, Kate Fitzpatrick recommends the Interactive Design module if you are interested in getting an overview on UX, usability and accessibility research.

Pay extra attention at technical/ programming classes. To keep on top of the job market and be one step ahead of other candidates, don’t underestimate technical and programming classes, even if you are not too keen on becoming a pro coder in the future. An ability to communicate with a wide range of people within the company is what the majority of employers are looking for.

Communicate. If you are not sure what your main interests are yet, there are opportunities to ask for advice from tutors, guest lecturers, speakers at departmental events or your more experienced classmates.

Start networking now.  There is no harm in introducing yourself through Twitter or email, most of which would probably be ignored but if the email is good and straightforward there is a better chance that it will catch someone’s attention. As for Alana, she asked the people she knows to recommend the good digital agencies in London. After she emailed one from the list, she got a response with an internship offer. She says that internship was a good way to see if UX research is something she is truly passionate about since she did not have any previous experience in the field.

Never underestimate the power of research. I am talking about keeping an eye on what is going on in the job market: signing up for relevant newsletters; registering on useful websites; identifying relevant recruiting agencies with ties in the industry etc. As postgraduate students your main skill is research, so utilize it as much as possible.

Work on your digital identity. We are talking about here are Twitter and Linkedin in particular. For a professional working in a digital environment, Twitter is one of the main tools for self-presentation, self-promotion and efficient professional communication. It is good for keeping an eye on specific organisations you might interested in working with, as most will often use Twitter as job advertising platform. Linkedin is well-known for professional networking, but it also might be useful for entering professional online communities, joining groups and following companies that were suggested by tutors.

Participate in projects and extracurricular activities. Try not to miss the opportunity to participate in the life of the department outside of class hours. There are plenty of interesting projects going on and if you are keeping up with emails and attend seminars, the chances for you to partake in them are much higher.

Be flexible. Unfortunately not every programme within the department offers placement support as a part of the tuition, furthermore, even if you got one through your course it might not be the one you really wanted.  In this case, if any experience comes along it will be priceless. The digital industry is all about practical skills and knowledge, and every little time spent with people who work in it will help you to deepen your knowledge and increase your chances to land in the one you want.

Overall, good luck to you all, this is going to be one of the most challenging but also exciting years of your life if you take full advantage of what courses have to offer.

You can find some of us on Twitter and let’s start that communication I was talking about.

@ek_kozh @alanacoates @yvonnespil

The first UCL David Tebbutt Scholarship

By Ian G Evans, on 26 June 2013

tebbutt_davidThe first UCL David Tebbutt Scholarship, awarded in memory of the late Faber finance director, has been awarded.

Student Philip Connor, from the National University of Ireland in Galway, has won the award, which funds a place on the University College London MA in Publishing programme. Connor will begin the one-year course in September, with a five-week internship at Faber included.

The scholarship is to be awarded annually, funded by the David Tebbutt Trust jointly administered by Faber and the Tebbutt family. The aim of the Trust is to further the education of those wishing to pursue a career in the publishing, writing and information industries.

Tebbutt [pictured] was killed by pirates in Kenya in 2011. His widow Judith Tebbutt is to publish a memoir of her subsequent captivity at the hands of those pirates, A Long Walk Home, with Faber next week.

Almost like Silicon Valley: my placement at Skyscanner

By Sarah Davenport, on 22 May 2013

A blog post by Kate Kozhevnikova, MA in Electronic Communication and Publishing

Hi everybody, people who are already in DIS or planning to join.  I’m a full-time international student on the Electronic Communication and Publishing (ECP) programme. ECP is a great course which doesn’t necessarily specify what/who you are supposed to work as. So when it came to choosing an organization and a field for my placement I felt that it would be a tough one.  I had two offers and a choice to make: work either in communications or digital marketing. I chose the latter and that is where my story begins.

I started working at Skyscanner (a leading European flight comparison website with headquarters in Scotland) three weeks ago and I‘m already overwhelmed. Skyscanner has a presence in more than 20 markets around the globe, with Russia being its second largest market after the UK. My Russian language skills along with digital marketing experience came in handy here and I joined the Market Development team to work on Skyscanner.ru (look how funky the characters are) and my initial plan was to observe and be quiet for a while… I really wanted to learn from the people who work within the electronic market, deal with enormous amount of data every day and are trying to change the world of online travel.

This is what the team is trying to do every day

This is what the team is trying to do every day.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

My biggest surprise was that my first day started with a personal induction. It was a presentation about the company, its goals, plans, strategies and I had a chance to ask all the questions that were bugging me and find out about my role at the company. My second biggest surprise was that even though I joined the marketing team, I was assigned to spend some time with people from all over the company and learn from them, even web development and data acquisition (which I was especially pleased with).

At the moment I mostly learn.

At the moment I mostly learn.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

When I started digging into the world of PPC, SEO, ROI, Redirect, USP and other cool acronyms and terms, that is when it hit me that I actually do know a lot already, and all the essays I’ve written for my classes left some pretty decent knowledge in my head. It was good to feel that I know some of the coding languages and I don’t need an initial explanation of what tags, style sheets, databases etc. are. I was also up-to-date with the online trends, varied platforms, social and legal aspects (thank you, Simon!) and actually developed a solid platform and personal view on many of these things. Being able to express my views and initiate projects based on my ideas in such a major company is the best outcome I could get. Furthermore, learning the technical side of a business which is purely online is another priceless part of my placement.

Our canteen/social area

Our canteen/social area

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Going back a year to when I confirmed my offer from UCL, I remember reading again and again the section on the DIS website about placements. Initially, this part of the course was the most exciting for me.  I was looking forward to entering the world of ‘real’ work in the UK. For an international student like myself it is a unique experience, which is really different from the one I had in my home country. It turned out to be better that I had imagined.

Russian flag is there to warn people:)

Russian flag is there to warn people:)

Library Student a week in the life of

By Amanda Riddick, on 8 March 2013

Having managed to get through the whole week without writing even one character, I thought I’d better catch up now! I’m a part-time student on the MA Library and Information Studies course at University College London as well as part-time library assistant in public libraries in two north London boroughs, Haringey and Islington.

My week so far:

Monday: in the morning had a lecture on medical information/libraries as part of the Information Sources and Retrieval module. I enjoy the module, but every so often I feel like I’m teetering on the edge of a bottomless abyss, OVERWHELMED by the amount of information out there and that we’re NEVER going to be able to get hold of it ALL and WHAT IS THE POINT OF IT ALL? That’s when I have to say to myself, ’Amanda, just take it one index card/byte/tweet at a time and you’ll be OK’, and then I stop hyperventilating…

After lunch I went to see one of my tutors about my dissertation. She pointed out – quite rightly – that while I have an interesting premise I need to find focus: ‘ask yourself what question you actually want to answer here.’ Hmm.

Off to work in the afternoon: my part-time job in Haringey is Monday, Wednesday and Friday afternoon. I do what most people outside the library profession think being a librarian is all about, ie stamp books and say, ‘this is due back in three weeks’, and shelve stuff that’s been returned, and pick up the empty styrofoam coffee cups and colouring-in sheets visitors have left behind. At the moment I’m on the bottom rung, so according to my employment contract I’m not allowed to do much more.

Tuesday: in the morning I started working on an article for Opticon 1826, a peer-reviewed magazine for and by UCL postgraduates. I’m one of the copy editors, which means I don’t actually write anything, and my job in this particular article is to sort out the references, which were written in a completely different style. As well as library assistant I also do some freelance work as translator (from German to English: I’m bilingual in English and German, thanks to a childhood spent in Vienna) and copy editor, so the work at Opticon 1826 is nothing new for me. It’s all part of that pedantic attention to detail – sorting out those two spaces or 849.21 filed before 849.206 or an apostrophe where it’s not needed – that I love. Really. But my reverie was interrupted by a workman coming to check out my skylight, the pane of which needs replacing and a new blind fitting – so I didn’t get to finish the work.

In the afternoon I’ was  at another lecture/seminar, Publishing Today. It’s quite an interesting course, a different angle on the world of books. We had an enjoyable talk from the Managing Director of Hachette, a leading children’s publisher, and then a couple of practical exercises which involved working out some estimates. Somewhere along the way I must have tapped in the wrong amounts into the calculator, because I came up with a profit margin of zero when everybody else had worked out 57,000 pounds. I may have been a whizz at differentiation and calculus in my Maths A-level, but maybe it’s a good thing that I’m not aiming to be an accountant?!?

Wednesday: Finished the article, then did a bit of reading and staring at the title of one of my assignments hoping that somehow ideas will just fall in abundance upon my desk (yeah right). Afternoon spent being one of the nice ladies behind the library counter.

Thursday: in the morning I went to see a Content Management Specialist at the law firm where my cousin works (and who set up the connection). This was not an interview: I’m just trying to find out as much as I can about different jobs/careers in the library and information sector, as I have no intention of remaining a part-time library assistant for the rest of my working life, and public libraries are not great places to get ahead in in the current economic climate. Initially gobsmacked by the astonishing super-corporate environment and the amazing view over the City from the 15th floor, I soon realised that working in law isn’t right for me – but I’m glad I came to find that out now.

On my way home I thought of what my tutor said on Monday and realised that I’m not asking the right question(s) at all and that I’ve somehow sidetracked myself into attempting to write a dissertation on a subject that I’m not really interested in. AAAARRRRGGGHHH – we’re supposed to submit a dissertation proposal next Friday (15 March)!!!!!! Tried to calm myself down by practising some music; I sing in a choir, and most of the time singing keeps me focused, but this afternoon/evening it just didn’t work.

Friday: wrote 5 postcards before breakfast. I belong to an online organisation called postcrossing, and all you do is send and receive postcards from other members on a random basis. It’s great, it’s free (apart from the costs of the postcards and postage – but it’s up to you how many postcards a week/month/year you send out) and it reminds me of haikus/tweets in that there’s actually only so much information you can cram onto a postcard.

Morning was taken up with my volunteer job: I contribute to a literacy support programme at my local secondary school, helping Y7 kids (11-12-year-olds) who have below-average reading skills. This is my third year of doing it, and even though it’s very simple – all I do is that once a week I sit with a couple of kids and listen to them read, correct their mistakes, answer questions and suggest alternatives (sometimes what they’re reading is too hard or boring, so I encourage them to choose something else in the school library) – I really enjoy it. This year I’ve been reading with Greek-Albanian twin brothers who only came to this country last summer so needed some help with learning English. Today was really great: one of the boys and I got so gripped by the spooky story he was reading that we both misssed the time when he was due to go to his next lesson. I mean, as a librarian, what more could you want?

Afternoon same as Wednesday… and tomorrow I’m Saturday Library Assistant at another public library. I’m not going to go into details – but it’s not my favourite job… and not just because it’s on a Saturday. ‘Nuff said. And I’m planning to spend Sunday in the UCL library. I love being a library assistant studying library stuff in a library. I might have to extend the course somehow…

Library Student Day in the Life: Day Three

By Laura J M Newman, on 6 March 2013

Welcome to todays chapter of a day in my life! This is my third day of blogging for the Hack Library Student Day in the Life project, sharing what my life is like as a library student.

Today is all about my working life. I work part-time in an academic library when I’m not studying, doing 15 hours a week. This is a bit more than I would ideally like as it means I don’t have much spare time, but I need the money to be able to fund full-time study. I started work at 9am this morning, and given that I didn’t get much sleep last night I wasn’t feeling very happy about it! My job is working within a subject team, to support the Subject Librarians in any jobs that need doing. Something I enjoy about the job is that it can have a variety of tasks, but on the other hand it is often very repetitive which can be a little boring at times.

This morning I started my day by catching up on emails (you tend to have a fairly full inbox when you only work two days a week) and then by completing the weeding task I had started last week. The relevant Subject Librarian had given us a list of periodicals that needed weeding and sending to Store, so I’ve been taking them off the shelves, measuring them (so the staff at the Store know how much shelf space they’ll take up), documenting and boxing them up ready to go. It doesn’t sound very interesting, but I actually find it strangely satisfying.

Boxes

My desk, surrounded by boxes after the morning’s work!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I spent a large proportion of my day doing that for various subjects. It’s quite physical at times, as it requires lifting heavy volumes and then pushing a huge trolley full of them back to my office (which naturally was the opposite end of the building). On the plus side, I now know where to find the German Periodicals! I’ve only been in my job for three months, and the library is a bit of a rabbit warren – I still don’t know where lots of things are!

empty cabinet

One of the rather empty cabinets after I’d had a go at it!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

After the periodical weeding I had lunch (soup again), then started on a very long reading list. This basically just involved checking the list against our catalogue to see whether we already have them, or whether we need to buy them (budget allowing, obviously). It’s a fairly easy task (although sometimes that catalogue seems to fight you all the way), although todays list had quite a lot of books not in English which made it somewhat more challenging! At 3.30pm I went for tea with some colleagues, and then after that continued with the reading list until I left at 5pm, to catch my train by the skin of my teeth. Then I rushed home so that I could have a quick dinner before my friend came to pick me up – I went to the cinema again. I hate to miss the opportunity of an Orange Wednesday!

To see more of my blogs, have a look at http://butilikesayingshh.wordpress.com/ or find me on Twitter @librarylandL

Library Student Day in the Life – Monday

By Natalie Kent, on 6 March 2013

I’m writing this post for the Hack Library School project Library Student Day in the Life. Hopefully it will provide a bit of insight into what life is like at UCL.

I’m a full-time student on the MA in Library and Information Studies at UCL. We are now well into the second teaching term, and almost half way through the course as a whole. In fact, we only have a few weeks of teaching left now and time has really flown.

This morning I had a 10 am lecture for our module Information Sources and Retrieval. I arrived into UCL a bit early and spent the time before the lecture in one of UCL’s computer clusters to sort out my emails and look at my schedule for the week ahead. Today’s session was about medical information sources. We looked at the healthcare information domain, and considered who might need access to information and the changes which have come about in recent years. I realised that ‘medical information’ is wide reaching, and not easy to define. We also looked at the different types of resources available, and where there might be intrinsic strengths and weaknesses. This session lasted 2 hours, and then we all decamped to a nearby computer cluster for a practical session to learn more about the database Medline, and specifically their free service Pubmed from a practising librarian working in neurology – a very helpful session!

After this I had lunch with friends on the course. My day technically could have finished there – I built up enough credits last term so that I don’t have to take any optional modules this term. But one of the great things about UCL is that students are able to audit additional modules, and I’d been given permission to sit in on the afternoon’s advanced cataloguing class.

The 3-hour cataloguing class was split into two halves. In the first half, a professional cataloguer shared her experience of setting up and managing a successful institutional repository. Before this I didn’t have a very extensive grasp of the metadata requirements of institutional repositories, or many of the challenges involved. We were also able to discuss issues surrounding management in cataloguing, and what different approaches might be taken. All in all it was a very interesting and helpful session. In the second half we looked at how to catalogue maps, a skill that might well come in useful at some point in the future!

My day didn’t end there as I then had an evening shift at my part-time job in a law library. Most of the students on the course do some kind of part-time work as well. I’ve certainly found it very useful to be able to apply some of the theoretical knowledge I’m building on the course in a practical way.

At the end of this rather busy day I got the bus back to my flat, feeling very glad that tomorrow morning’s lecture doesn’t start until 10!

Library School Day in the life: Day Two

By Laura J M Newman, on 5 March 2013

This is (obviously) Day Two in this project – for Day One, and for the rest of the week (in case I don’t get around to posting them here), please check out my blog at http://butilikesayingshh.wordpress.com/, or follow me on Twitter @librarylandL.

So, just a brief post tonight as I’ve been out and I have work in the morning so I want to go to bed! This is day two of my blog for Hack Library School project for the week.

Today I had Uni all day, which started at 10am (thank goodness all of the 9am starts from last term are over!). I had an hour-long lecture for my Management module, which was about HR and the policies you need to think about, such as when employing people. A lot of it was common sense, but I certainly think it’s important to underline these things for when we become professionals. After that we had a half hour break which I spent in the common room with friends, and then a seminar for the same module from 11.30-1pm. In this we had a discussion about the use of volunteers and what you need to think about when considering using them – it was a really interesting discussion and made me consider issues that I hadn’t necessarily thought about before.

We then separated into our groups and started work on our third exercise. To give you some background, as a group we’ve created an imaginary library, which we have been given a budget for. In previous exercises we’ve outlined a mission statement and goals for the organisation, divided up the budget and staffed the library. Today we had to write a job description, person specification and create an advert for the job.

The most frustrating thing that I always find about this is that we don’t have enough time to do it, and working within a group obviously means that a lot of discussion happens – not ideal when you’re pressed for time! I generally find myself in the role of time management – i.e. I hurry everyone up so that we don’t waste time. We did quite well today and ended the session by dividing up the remaining work to do in our own time, with a deadline that we all have to meet. The group work is assessed so it’s important to make sure we’re all working at it.This kind of scenario is, I think, quite important for the course as I aim to be in management one day and it’s nice to consider these issues now, but I do find it a challenge working in such a big group.

After this was lunchtime. Usually I just spend this with my friends, but today I went to talk to one of my lecturers about my dissertation ideas first. One thing I really like about UCL is how approachable the staff are, and how helpful. After the discussion I feel a lot more certain about what I’m going to do for my dissertation now, which is a relief. I can start on my proposal this weekend now; something I’ve been putting off until now!

Then, after a hurried lunch (I bring in something from home and use the microwave in the common room) I went off to my optional module for this term. I’ve chosen to do Manuscript Studies, as it’s not something I have any experience in so I thought I would see what I think.

So far, I’m really enjoying it. A lot of it is based on palaeography, and is, I have to say, a barrage of information at times considering I have little prior knowledge of this. A visiting lecturer takes the class and it’s very old-school; no PowerPoint, but just the odd word or example on the board and lots of talking! Suffice to say that this week, as always, my brain felt like mush after it! Today we did about Gothic script. We always do some transcription as we have a test on this at the end of the term, and todays examples weren’t horrific so I don’t feel too freaked out about the test. My main quibble with the class is that we only get a 5 minute break in a 3 hour class, so I often find myself flagging towards the end. I’m glad I chose it though, as it’s allowed me to try something completely different.

After class I went for dinner and to the cinema with some friends from the course, and then headed home. And that’s day two in my life!

Library School Day in the Life

By Anne Welsh, on 1 March 2013

Information lecture notesNext week students from various library schools will be taking part in Library Student Day in the Life, an initiative from the Hack Library School team based on Bobbi Newman’s Library Day in the Life project, which came to an end in 2012.

Several students from UCL’s MA LIS programme are planning to blog their experiences here, with links through to their own personal blogs (when they have one). So if you are wondering what the course is actually like, next week should give you a brief flavour.

In the meantime, you might be interested in last year’s cohort’s entries for Library Day in the Life or, indeed, in current student Laura Newman’s blog post on her first term full-time at UCL.

Other, earlier sources of information on studying here include Helen Doyle’s ‘My Week’ column in Library & Information Update, February 2011 (close-up of cutting here) and Sarah Maule’s blogging for libday6 (week commencing 24 January 2011) and  libday7 (July 2011).

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Image: Information Sources lecture notes – historical examples of bibliographic control by James Curtis, #libday8 – Friday, 3 February 2012

Profiles in Law Librarianship

By Anne Welsh, on 2 December 2012

At our recent open day, we were pleased to meet prospective students from a range of sectors including academic, health, business and law.

Perhaps because we teach a traditional MA LIS, with core modules in Cataloguing and Classification, Collection Management, Information Sources, Management and PCIT, or perhaps because so many of our alumni have gone on to prominent positions within RLUK and other academic libraries, one of the frequently asked questions was how many of our students go on to careers in the commercial sector.

We are honestly able to say that an increasing number of our graduates go into commercial roles, both within traditional information services and in new media positions. It’s a happy co-incidence that one such recent graduate has just been featured on the Special Libraries Association Legal Division’s ‘Profiles in Law Librarianship’. 

Marie Cannon was a member of last year’s cohort of students. Arriving with a background in the legal sector, she took advantage of opportunities within the MA to try out different areas before deciding to target law firms in pursuit of her first professional post. She was one of the first in her year to obtain a post, and one of many students to combine finishing her dissertation with starting a new role. She also received a scholarship to attend the SLA conference in Chicago last summer, and is now a board member for SLA Europe, for whom she runs the SLA Europe Blog. Social media was a developing professional passion for Marie during her time at UCL, when, as well as starting her own blog, she authored two entries during her work placement at Senate House – ‘Rare Books Revealed‘ and ‘Rare Books Revealed 2‘.

Information professionals are a friendly group of people, and Marie is no exception to this. I’m sure if you have questions about her route into law librarianship, her time studying at UCL, or, indeed, her love of baking and decorating beautiful cakes, she will be happy to be found on twitter @mariegcannon.

Read Marie’s interview on the SLA Legal Division website.

Image: Marie Grace Cannon’s Blog

Graduate Open Day

By Anne Welsh, on 29 October 2012

UCL Graduate Students Open Day Wednesday 21 November 2012

 

UCL Department of Information Studies (DIS) is a leading centre for research and professional education inlibrarianshipinformation sciencearchives and records managementpublishing and the

digital humanities.

 

Come along to our Faculty and Departmental Graduate Students Open Day: talk to teaching staff, visit the campus and library, hear from researchers and chat with current students. It takes place on Wednesday 21November 2012From 11am in Wilkins South Cloisters, Gower Street, UCL (please register athttp://www.ucl.ac.uk/ah/grad-open-day/ )

And from 3pm – 7pm in DIS, Foster Court, Ground Floor, UCL (for details see http://www.ucl.ac.uk/dis ).

 

Students benefit from studying in the UK’s largest information school, at one of the world’s top 10 universities. We offer MA/MSc/Diploma programmes in Digital Humanities; Library and Information Studies; Archives and Records Management; Publishing; Electronic Communication & Publishing and Information Science.

 

Our teaching is built upon an international research reputation: the department hosts three research centres and two research groups: Centre for PublishingCentre for Digital Humanities (CDH), Centre for Archives and Records Research (ICARUS)Applied Logic Group and Knowledge Organization Group. We welcome research students (MRes, MPhil and PhD) in all these areas.