Updates from the World of a PhD Student: Finishing Up the Second Year

05/04/2013 § 2 Comments

Hey everyone! I’ve been absent from posting as regularly as I used to, but I wanted to poke my head in and tell you all about how my PhD program is going. Hopefully it will be helpful for those of you considering a PhD yourselves!

I’ve posted a bit about my thought going into the PhD program on HLS (here and here), and at the end of last year I posted some of the things I learned from my PhD (and from the experience of moving to a new town) here. Another year has passed, and I’m currently in the midst of my last semester of coursework. It feels really strange to think that I’ll never be a student in a classroom setting again (save for the occasional seminar), but that I’ll still be a student doing my own independent work under the guidance of faculty. It’s a great transitionary period prior to going out into the workforce, though, and I’m really excited to have more time to devote to my independent projects (namely, my dissertation!)

For those of you who aren’t familiar with the timeline of a PhD program, it has a few more steps than a Master’s program does. Most people finish in 4-5 years, but some people take more or less time depending on their research topic, how much they work outside of school, etc. Students in our program typically come in with an MLS. The first thing we do is take our coursework, which is usually about two years. Then we prepare for and take prelims (comprehensive exam). For my program, the prelims include written statements you prepare, from which your committee pulls your questions. Then, you write your responses over the course of one week. After you pass prelims, you advance to candidacy, and start working on your prospectus (the first 2-3 chapters of the dissertation in most cases). You defend your prospectus, then write the rest of your dissertation, defend the dissertation, and do any revisions your committee asks for. If it all goes according to plan, you should end up with a PhD at the end of it!

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Subsidized Loans: A Relic of Our Past?

05/08/2011 § 26 Comments

Student Protests at the University of Vienna

The other day, when I found out that graduate student aid had been heavily hit by the budget deal struck by Congress, the only thing I could think to tweet as I shared a link on the topic was “you’ve let students down.” The tweet came somewhat out of fear for my own financial future, but mostly for that of my fellow students. I am fortunate in that I have an assistantship and am pursuing a PhD (which can, potentially, open doors to new funding sources than I could access during my MLS, although I doubt people will be banging down my door and hurling money at me.) However, having just completed that degree, I remember what a struggle it was to track down funding outside of student loans and what a blessing subsidized loans and deferred payments were for me. It made it possible for me to go to school, and I suspect the same is true for many HLS readers. With that in mind, I thought I would devote my post to talking about the changes in student loans, the little bit of sense I can make of it, and how it might impact graduate education.

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Hack Your Program: University of Iowa SLIS

08/07/2011 § 4 Comments

Note: like other posts in the Hack Your Program series, opinions expressed here are mine alone. I have grown so much and enjoyed myself thoroughly at SLIS, so the few items I offer as ‘areas for improvement’ should be viewed as constructive criticism and also understood through the lens of LIS education or the U of I as a whole: most of the things I talk about it that section are not specific to SLIS. I absolutely loved by time at SLIS and felt like it allowed me to really come into my own as a researcher and a student–I’d love to hear the thoughts of other SLIS students and alumni too, and I’m happy to share more information with folks who are considering applying!

Quick Overview: SLIS is located in the University library in Iowa City. Our department has 8 faculty members (all of whom I adore, btw) and small class sizes. The largest classes I encountered were the Foundations courses (more on that later) where the entire incoming cohort (~30 people I think is average) takes the courses together. Most of my classes had between 12 and 20 people, although some have slightly more or less. The MLS is a two-year program, although some students (like me) take longer.

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Unpacking the Conference: Planning, Execution, and Afterthoughts

22/06/2011 § 4 Comments

This post is a shared effort between HLS editor Julia Skinner and Katie DeVries Hassman, Sam Bouwers, and Gwen Persons, who were part of the conference planning team for Unpacking the “Library”: Exploring Works in Progress Across the Field of LIS. Other planners included Melody Dworak, Christine Mastalio, and Julie Zimmerman, who looked over parts of the post for us! To see more about the programs from that day, go to Julia’s post here.

Conference attendees

The audience waits for a conference session to start.

Part I: The Planning

Julia: Planning a conference is a lot of work. It’s fun and rewarding work, but if you’re going to hold a conference make sure to give yourself as much time for planning as you can! The idea for our conference came when we wanted to find another way to educate our fellow students and encourage them to grow professionally. Having a goal and a framework in place when we started planning was important, because it made our lives much easier when people asked ‘why are you hosting a conference?’ or ‘what do you hope people will get out of this?’ « Read the rest of this entry »

[Series] Hack ALA: Library History Round Table (LHRT)

12/06/2011 § Leave a comment

LHRT is an awesome organization for students to join because it’s fun, vibrant, and a great way to explore libraries of the past and see how they intersect with issues faced by libraries today. Best of all, there are so many ways for students to get involved that include running for office, publishing in the newsletter, or connecting with us via social media.

http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Carnegie_Library.jpg

Carnegie Library image from Wikimedia Commons

A lot of you already know that I have a slight obsession with library history. That’s why, when I joined ALA, the first sub-group I looked at joining was LHRT (Library History Round Table.) I love LHRT because it’s a nice mix of researchers, faculty, students, and practicing librarians. LHRT hosts a few ALA sessions each year (see the bottom of this post for a list), along with a library history conference every few years. The people who are in elected positions are incredibly welcoming, as are all the members I’ve met. LHRT is an awesome organization for students to join because it’s fun, vibrant, and a great way to explore libraries of the past and see how they intersect with issues faced by libraries today. Best of all, there are so many ways for students to get involved that include running for office, publishing in the newsletter, or connecting with us via social media. LHRT folks are very approachable, so if you can think of another way you want to be involved, don’t be afraid to ask!

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