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MI Student Ian Dykstra Gives Insider’s View of the Program
“Dive in fully and commit yourself to opportunities you want to pursue.”

Current Master of Information (MI) graduate student Ian Dykstra grew up in New Jersey, moving to Pennsylvania to attend Ursinus College, majoring in Philosophy and Studio Art. Since 2011, he has lived and worked in Philadelphia, making art, playing music in a band, and having a variety of customer service jobs. Ian started the master’s program in the summer of 2020 and graciously agreed to give us an insider’s view of the program.

 SC&I: What prompted you to enroll in SC&I’s MI program?

IA: I was drawn to library and information science because I’ve always been an avid library user. I also love engaging with all types of media and technology, as well as working with people. Information science seemed like a great way to combine my passions. I selected Rutgers because of its excellent reputation, particularly the strength of the MI program. The online MI is asynchronous, which allows me to make my own weekly schedule and maximize what I get out of it as I balance school with work and life.

 SC&I: Describe your career aspirations and how your studies at SC&I are preparing you. 

IA: I’d like to work in a library and am open to public, academic, or special contexts, as long as I’d be able to work closely with patrons. The MI has taught me so many useful skills and strategies—it’s been especially valuable for training me to think about information from a user-centered perspective. I’ve realized that I’m passionate about problem-solving and connecting people with resources that will be valuable to them. I’m currently most excited about doing that in a Reference or Readers’ Advisory capacity. I thoroughly enjoyed Human Information Behavior with Associate Professor of Library and Information Science Ross J. Todd. The readings for this class are fascinating, opening up students to new ways of thinking about learning and engaging with information. Whether in formal or informal settings, research is a complex process with intellectual and emotional components that can get overshadowed. This class got me thinking from this kind of holistic perspective, and I recommend taking it early on in the program. I also enjoyed Cataloging and Classification with part-time faculty member Pamela Ward, director of collection management and resources services at the Blagg-Huey Library at Texas Woman’s University; Reference Services and Sources with Assistant Professor of Library and Information Science Megan Threats; Reading Interests of Adults with Assistant Professor of Library and Information Science E.E. Lawrence; and Search and the Information Landscape with Associate Teaching Professor of Library and Information Science Joyce Kasman Valenza.

I approached some of these classes with a strong pre-existing interest and was simply curious about others. I’ve come out of all of them with a strong understanding of current professional practice in a variety of contexts.

 SC&I: What are some of your guiding principles based on your experience?

IA: Do what you love. Admittedly, this is easier said than done, especially if you have a lot of interests. I’m still trying to navigate this myself, but I think the key thing is to start with what you’re passionate about and go from there. Another piece that builds on that and is maybe a caveat is don’t be afraid to pick something specific. As someone who has done a fair share of jumping around, this is something that I need to remember. You have to dive in fully and commit yourself to opportunities you want to pursue, but also know that it’s never too late to pivot. There are no dead ends, and all your experiences will ultimately inform your future practice in some way.

 SC&I: What advice would you like to share with future students?

IA: Engage with your professors, classmates, and advisors as much as possible. They are all incredibly smart people with a wide range of interests and personal and professional experiences. While the online MI program can take some getting used to for those who have never taken an online class before, the Rutgers community has tons of resources to support you. Don’t be afraid to dive in and ask questions. The more you ask, the more you’ll learn. As with so many things in life, you get out of it what you put into it.

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