Having completed a bachelor’s degree in information management and information systems in China, Linyao Li found out she really liked information sciences and wanted to build a career in this field. In her quest to combine her interest and subsequent data analyst internship experiences, Li discovered the School of Information Sciences at the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign — and the rest is history.
“The iSchool at Illinois’s MS in Information Management (MS/IM) provides multiple pathways, allowing us to explore our interests in depth,” explains Li.
The Data Science and Analytics pathway teaches students theoretical and technical understanding of data in society and within organisations; students take on courses such as Data Visualisation, Data Science Storytelling and Text Mining. The other pathway – Knowledge Management and Information Consulting – is more of analysing and representing information and how to customise and efficiently use systems that manage critical organisational information.
“My engineering degree along with my professional experience motivated me to learn and dive deep into the track of data and business analytics which eventually led me to pursue the MS/IM degree in the iSchool at Illinois. I have learnt a lot since I joined this course,” enthuses Nikita Nitin Bangale, a Mumbai native.
MS/IM students can personalise their programme to match their learning needs. As part of the 40 credit hours they have to complete, students must complete three courses which lay the foundation for their chosen specialisation, while the remaining credit hours can be customised to suit their individual career goals.
That is why Shruti Deekshitula from India relishes her MS/IM experience: “The iSchool’s comprehensive curriculum matches my career interest and gives me the flexibility to tailor my degree with courses of my own choosing; the university provides a wide range of opportunities to its students both at the personal and career front.”
At the same time, MS/IM students can pursue a Practicum to gain relevant work experience under the guidance of seasoned industry experts. Independent Study offers an opportunity for students to study non-curriculum subjects or interests in greater depth; the IS Internship – done either full-time or part-time – allows students to put information science in practice with an external client, company, or community partner.
“There are tremendous opportunities to gain work experience: by doing internships in the Research Park, working as research assistants, or even working in highly esteemed student organisations,” notes Bhairavi Jadhav, another Mumbai local.
Indeed, the iSchool is strongly committed to research, education, engagement, and innovation — which translates to plenty of opportunities for students to gain critical work experience. Their professional studies in the information sciences — which cover contemporary issues in data science, human computer interaction, digital libraries, and many more — complement their degree further.
For Nigel Bosch, who is an iSchool assistant professor, pursuing his research project on machine learning applications for education domains enabled him to tap on the world-esteemed faculty for feedback.
“My research fits in very well at the iSchool because of the big picture perspectives that the faculty brings to the research ideas here. The peer faculty here have also been really wonderful in terms of providing different perspectives to my research. It is really nice to work with faculty who are interested in many different parts of the same research project,” he says.
It comes as little surprise that the iSchool and the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign – ranked among the top 25 in the world (Centr3 for World University Rankings 2021-22) – are well-known for their innovative teaching and research that address global problems and improve the human experience. MS/IM students get to learn from the best, the ones who provide the knowledge and skills needed to catalyse successful careers in the design and management of information systems.
“Our information management programme has helped students secure a range of exciting new positions in every sector. Students receive hands-on experiences in information management, knowledge representation, and analytics that prepare them to positively impact real-world problems in a variety of settings, including healthcare, finance, technology, consulting, retail, and agriculture,” says Catherine Blake, Professor and Programme Director for the MS/IM degree. “I am very interested in growing student engagement opportunities so students can see first-hand how their training can impact information science problems in the real world.”
Sashi Donepudi, who graduated in 2021, was able to land a 12-week internship as a data scientist at AARP at Research Park, and after graduation, he secured full-time employment in Chicago as a Data Analytics Lead at Barclays, much to his delight.
With professional pathways, curriculum flexibility, learning opportunities, research projects and well-regarded reputation and teaching – the iSchool at Illinois is an excellent springboard for any student who wishes to launch into an in-demand career. The iSchool at Illinois extends a warm welcome to aspiring students to learn more about their programme and numerous resources available for their growth and development.