The Future of the Profession:
Student Professional Development at the iSchool
1. What professional activities students
had undertaken in the summer between
their first and second year of their Master of Information Studies (MISt); and
2. What professional development opportunities do they desire from the Faculty?
Using an web-based tool, we solicited
students to participate in a survey of 25
questions pertaining to their activities,
their views on professional development,
and their professional goals. We targeted
upper-year students, in the months after
the summer, to best capture their recollections from this time period.
There was little change between students career choices before and after the summer.
When asked if
“Yes, now I am leaning towards special
their summer exlibraries as a future career”
“No; I knew before starting at the iSchool that I
choices, students has a range
wanted to work in a special library. That has not
“Yes. I no longer want to work in an archive.”
and public libraries
are doing well: Students wanting to enter these fields are gaining positions in these types
of libraries, although the nature of their work is generally not as challenging or meaningful as they would like.
Students' Career Preferences
Government libraries and special libraries needs to do better: Students interested in government work are not finding
their way there.
Before the summer
The study collected both quantitative and
qualitative data from Master of Information Studies students over a period of approximately one month. Several reminders were sent to students by e-mail to encourage them to participate. The study
did not offer an incentive, but nonetheless received 96 responses - a response
rate of approximately 46%.
Meghan Ecclestone is a newly-appointed
Business Librarian at York University ’s
Bronfman Business Library. You can contact her via her website, at
About the project
We launched this survey in October of
2008 to answer two broad questions:
Bruce Harpham is a recent graduate of the
MISt program at the University of Toronto’s Faculty of Information. You can
contact him via his website,
However it is encouraging that there
was generally very little change among students’ preferences before and after their
summer work experiences implying a high
degree of satisfaction in their choice of
Faculty of Information Job Fair (February 2009). 28 students commented that the Job Fair was a faculty
event that they found most helpful or beneficial to
their professional development.
In this project, we noted that a large majority
of students found well paying work in fields
of interests, and had high levels of job satisfaction. These promising results suggest that
information organizations are doing well at
matching students with their desired areas of
work; nonetheless there is potential for more
challenging, meaningful work for students.
There is also a need from the Faculty of Information to compliment this work experience with greater professional development
opportunities during the school year.
Library - Public
Library Archives Government Government
Archives Archives Records
University Private Sector Management
Rates of job satisfaction were quite high: 80% of
students were satisfied, or very satisfied with
their summer work experiences.
Though many students reported hourly wages
over $20 per hour, a significant minority reported lower wages.
Hourly Rates of Pay
In future, research could be improved in several ways. Surveying the impressions of employers could supplement students’ views.
As well, a broader picture could be attained
by contrasting the positions of new graduates with mid-program summer positions.
Finally, the survey construction could benefit
from more focused questions.