Commonwealth Scholar - The iSchool at Pitt

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Tag: MSIS (Page 1 of 2)

Students of the iSchool: Scholarship for Service (SFS), MSIS/MPIA dual degree program


Name: Kayla Mormak

Year in Program: Third Year, MSIS/MPIA dual degree program (Second year of MSIS)

Specialization(s): ​Security

What made you choose the specialization(s)? ​I think my biggest draw was the multidisciplinary nature of security studies. My background is in psychology and security/intelligence policy, so the human factors in security are especially interesting to me.

What do you like about the program(s)? Any favorite courses?: ​I love that we’re being prepared for the workforce practically and theoretically. The concepts presented in lecture can (mostly) be demonstrated with a program or script and they become very real. It’s hard to pick a favorite — but I guess I would have to say Crypto. Maybe I’m crazy, but I love math and puzzles so I found it fun.

What is your title? Scholarship for Service student

What does a typical day at position look like? It’s different for each of us, depending on what projects we’re working on and/or the internships we’re involved with. Currently I’m working on a paper that I’m hoping to publish later this year. A typical day recently has involved working on an IRB (Institutional Review Board) application for a study about social media users’ security preferences, but previously and in the near future will involve equal metric tons of reading and writing.

How does this position relate to your future goals?  I am very strongly interested in IT policy, both on a governmental and institutional level. In addition to doing research on user behavior and preferences, the SFS program provides me with the opportunity to work for a governmental organization after graduation. Worst case scenario I get a first-hand look at what needs to be improved, but best-case scenario I can make a real difference in the agency I find placement with.

How are you managing your time effectively?  Lots of coffee and lots of calendars!!! I’m currently taking four courses and an independent study, so if I didn’t have everything written down and reminders from my phone I would be a complete mess. I spend about 4 hours a day doing research during the week, and try to get all my homework for the week done on Saturday and Sunday.

What is your favorite part of your job?  Having the opportunity to do independent research, and the flexibility to pursue a project that is tailored to my interests. I have support when I need it, but otherwise I have a lot of freedom.

Do you have any advice from prospective students?​  Don’t be afraid to email professors, whether you have a question or you’re just interested in what they study. They’re people too! They want to help you succeed, and when you’re genuinely interested it means that much more.

Are there any questions that I should have asked? Nope, I think you caught ’em all.

Read More

FAQs Series: What Jobs Can I Get? (before and after IS/Tele program)

I have been answering a lot of the same questions from prospective students and first semester students about Pitt and I thought that’d I’d put some of the top questions onto the blog in a series of entries.

One of the top questions asked is what jobs can they get during and after their MSIS and MST program. This is is simple: LOTS!!


So, you can go different routes with this. You can do an internship or just an on-campus job.

I work for Student Services in the School of Information Sciences. This is an administrative job where you handle correspondence with prospective and current students, process admissions and registration documents, and participate in recruitment events.

There are other students that work for CSSD. This is more of a tech/help-desk positions. So, it’s kind of along the lines of our field of study. Check the link out for what applications are available!

During and After

Internships are usually offered in the summer, but there are other places that offer to extend your time into the school year. I’ve used a lot of these websites to find employment:

  • – for domestic students

Student Services also brings employers throughout the year; especially, during iFest when they have a Career & Internship Expo. Some of the employers that have communicated with the iSchool and have expressed interest in their students in the past:

Outside of Students Services, iSchool students have been able to acquire internships/jobs at some of these organizations:

Based on the iSchool Website:

  • • United States Steel Corporation
    • Westinghouse Electric Company
    • IBM
    • Citigroup
    • Eli Lilly & Company
    • Apple, Inc.
    • FedEx Ground
    • Highmark Blue Cross/Blue Shield
    • Exxon Mobil Corporation
    • Cisco Systems Inc.
    • UPMC Hospital
    • Siemens Global
    • Mellon BNY
  • • British Telecommunications
    • Ericsson Inc.
    • Consol Energy
    • ECI Telecommunications
    • General Electric
    • Hughes Network Systems
    • Union Switch and Signal
    • PPG Industries, Inc.
    • US Steel
    • Eli Lilly and Company
    • Bechtel Bettis
    • Sony Ericsson Mobile Communications

iCCC – The Wrap-Up

Last Friday, April 11th, DSO, with the support of five other student organizations (ASIS&T, NDSA, SAASC, SCALA, SISGO), organized a panel event as an open discussion of the curricula, career, and community of the iSchool. With comments and discussion from our panelists and audience, we were able to guide the conversation with thoughtful input from individuals with varying roles and experiences in the iSchool. Moderated by Wes Lipschultz (Manager of Student Services at the iSchool), the panelists included:

We had a great turnout, and hope to recreate this event next year. Below are some of the highlights!

  • Q: At the university level, in what ways are we promoting diversity and an inclusive culture? Can you, Dean Larsen, speak to some of your experiences working with the Diversity Task Force, and now, the iSchool Diversity Committee?
    • Dean Larsen opened the discussion with information regarding the Diversity Task Force. He highlighted the accomplishments of E. J. Josey. Dean Larsen identified efforts that could be made to encourage recruitment and retention of faculty members of diverse backgrounds: offering opportunities to meet successful faculty from diverse backgrounds, informal mentoring, stronger social networking across campus, and stronger collaboration amongst colleagues with which they work.
    • W. Lipschultz: “From my perspective…We run the risk of having more partitioned populations. For example, Tele students may view themselves as one piece, unable to unify with other programs for a strong voice. [We] want to break down barriers: develop mutual admiration across academic lines, gender, ethnicities; have school interests eclipse those boundaries; learn about each other regardless of which program a student is in.”
  • Q: How does our curricula support and encourage student research and interdisciplinary and cross-program interaction?
    • C. Robles illustrated the benefits to the Doc Guild Dissertation Bootcamp. The bootcamp provides a forum for PhD students of all three programs to discuss anecdotal evidence, form network relationships to co-author projects, and relate to one another on the struggles of balancing work and life. These highlight the importance of open dialogue and having multiple perspectives.
    • Dr. Beaton acknowledged the benefits of sending students to iConference. iConference is an opportunity outside of the iSchool for intellectual growth and community building.
    • Dr. Tipper also added the dream of adding a course that would span all three programs, though there are clear obstacles.
  • Q: How is the iSchool evaluated and to what degree are student perspectives being integrated? How can we improve student understanding and incorporate student feedback of the curriculum in the Industry Advisory Council and the Board of Visitors?
    • Dean Larsen pointed to accountability and focused on learning outcome assessment. Specifically, Dean Larsen focused on the importance of the OMET evaluations. He also suggested viewing Nobel Laureate Carl Weisman’s presentation, “What learning matters and how can it be measured?” Weisman speaks to the difficulties of evaluating teaching practices. Additionally, the Board of Visitors meets once a year and has a limited schedule. He notes that if students would like to present thoughts or findings, they are more than welcome to compile a concise presentation to be added to the Boards schedule.
    • Dr. Richard Cox pointed out the decline in OMET responses due to the shift from an in-class physical form to an online version. This is a serious hindrance to curricula development.
    • C. Robles also contributed the fact that the by-stander effect may also play a strong role in the decrease in OMET responses.
  • Q: How can we improve communication between faculty and students in the Information Science & Telecommunications programs? Would program-specific student organizations and/or an Advisory Board be welcome in the iSchool?
    • Though C. Robles notes that she is able to connect with students fairly well as a Teaching Assistant, she agrees with the need for an Advisory Board for the IS/Tele programs.
    • Additionally, S. Zargar applauded the results of the Social Hours as mechanisms for connecting Masters and PhD level students with faculty. He notes that it is a great informal pipeline conducive to networking and community building.
    • Brandi Belleau also shares that the MLIS Advisory Board has been a, “good constructive pipeline for complaints or just explaining why things cannot be changed, and understanding the big picture behind the scene.”
  • Q: In hindsight, what kinds of opportunities and resources would have been useful?
    • J. Mitchell: “I could have benefited more from a structured environment in which MLIS students could talk about what they are doing. The people you learn from are other students, from their partners/field placement experiences. Event to talk formally about their experiences; would have shed more light on the professional environment. This could also work well for assessment. Is the work in placements, are these experiences substantial? How to educate one another internally in the iSchool.”
  • Q: As a Teaching Assistant and student, can you discuss how students have asked to work with real world experiences? Have you been able to incorporate that into your classes?
    • C. Robles notes that she has seen many faculty members pass along pertinent information regarding internship opportunities. However, she also states that, “hands on experience can be difficult for some students, and as a Teaching Assistant, my job is sometimes to catch students up.”
    • S. Zargar also notes that this can be addressed through offering more courses from professors of practice.
  • Q: What support systems are in place for students who have concerns with staff and faculty? Can you speak about the social or academic contract between student and faculty and how that has impacted student/faculty interactions?
    • Dr. Roger Flynn notes that this is a difficult situation, because, “if a student does not feel comfortable with a faculty member, there needs to be a[n alternate] channel: student services, or possibly another faculty member.”
    • Dean Larsen shared a concept of green dots or some other signifier above office doors or on a person that would indicate availability to discuss any issues a student may have.
    • Debbie Day also shared, “[this will require] a wide variety of people to handle these situations, [they] need to be properly trained to handle the situations, or know who to send them to. Support networks should be planned out and identified.”
    • B. Belleau note the importance of sharing this information, of who and where these outlets are, with the student body.

Thank you to all of those that were able to attend the event! If you have questions about the event, or questions for the next event, do not hesitate to submit them to!

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