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The Future of the Profession: Professional Development at the iSchool

“The Future of the Profession: Professional Development at the iSchool 3” was a poster presented at the 2011 CLA National Tradeshow and Conference. The project was begun in 2008 by Meghan Ecclestone and Bruce Harpham, and was presented at the 2009 CLA conference. We took it over the following year, and presented a previous iteration at the 2010 conference.

Our survey collected both quantitative and qualitative data from Master of Information students, and was created to answer two broad questions:
1. What professional activities students had undertaken in the summer between the first and second year of their Master of Information (MI); and
2. What professional development opportunities do they desire from the Faculty?
What we found was interesting: the diversification of the field of Information Professionals is also happening on the student level. The clearest indication of this was seen through changes in students’ career choices.



Little change was noted in the 2008 study between student’s career choices before and after the summer (graph not shown – changes in survey questions made the data difficult to compare). 2009 reflected a majority of students shifting their career goals from academic librarianship to special librarianship. This shift continued in 2010, but was less dramatic than in the previous year.

The most significant shift from 2008 to 2009 regarding summer employment was found in the category of “Other” work experience, where the majority of students reported working for the summer of 2009. While “Other” work remained high in the summer of 2010, library work in “Academic” saw a resurgence. All such responses were found to be related to fields under the umbrella of Information Studies. Some of these work environments included: international organizations; non-profit organizations; and various museum positions. Most notably, however, was a dramatic increase in students’ summer employment in areas of research analysis.

Rates of job satisfaction remain high; though not as high as in 2008 or 2009: 71% of students were satisfied, or very satisfied with their summer work experiences in 2010, compared to over 80% in both previous studies.

We believe that some of this satisfaction is directly related to steps that are being taken by professionals in the field, and that facilitating student opportunities during the summer months can open their eyes to the wealth of possibilities in the information field. Other steps that professionals can take include offering practicum placements for students, participating in iSchool professional development events (e.g. guest lectures, Job Shadowing, Ask an Alum, etc.), and generally, being open to talking to students at social events. These opportunities were noted by students in the survey, and were highly valued.

From 2008 to 2010, this project has noted a large majority of students finding well paying work in fields of interest, with high levels of job satisfaction. These promising results suggest that information organizations are doing well matching students with their desired areas of work; nonetheless there is potential for more challenging, meaningful work for students.

We believe that the increase in career goal changes, coinciding with the increase in “Other” work opportunities, is reflective of the growing diversity of job prospects in the information profession and in the diversity of student interests coming into the Faculty of Information.

The Faculty of Information has continued to increase the professional development opportunities available to students since the beginning of this study in 2008. Let’s meet the students half way.


Kate Petch is a Media Librarian at the CBC. She graduated from the University of Toronto’s iSchool in 2010 with a Master of Information Studies. She can be contacted at

Kim Stymest is the Information Specialist at the Ontario Ministry of Economic Development & Trade. She graduated with a Master of Information Studies from the University of Toronto’s iSchool in 2010. She can be contacted at

Posted in V48-N4-Summer 2011Comments (0)

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