Data Analytics: It’s What You Can Do With A MLIS Degree!
“GOOD with numbers? Fascinated by data? The sound you hear is opportunity knocking.”
This is the catchy first line of Steve Lohr’s article, “The Age of Big Data“, in Sunday’s New York Times. “What is Big Data? A meme and a marketing term, for sure, but also shorthand for advancing trends in technology that open the door to a new approach to understanding the world and making decisions.” It goes right along with what every class we take tries to tell us: information is everywhere and it just keeps growing.
But what does this really mean for those of us looking to find our way into the Information profession?
For starters, according to the article, “[a] report last year by the McKinsey Global Institute, the research arm of the consulting firm, projected that the United States needs 140,000 to 190,000 more workers with “deep data analytical” expertise and 1.5 million more data-literate managers”. I don’t know about you, but this is definitely the kind of heartening news I like to hear as I get ready to make forays into a new field of information management. It eases the panic somewhat to know that the course I’m currently taking on Database Design will have direct application to getting myself employed in another year.
But what if you’re not taking these classes yet or if you don’t know how to focus what you’re learning into something employers will want and need? Lohr has you covered there, too. He discusses examples from fields as far-reaching as economics, health, academia, business marketing, and sports. “It’s a revolution,” says Gary King, director of Harvard’s Institute for Quantitative Social Science. There is no area that is going to be untouched.” Big Data is everywhere. This is the news that’s particularly refreshing to those of us who haven’t already been employed in a library or who don’t even know if they want to work in a library. (Gasp!) Learn to work with Big Data and you can combine it with previous employment skills and interests, no matter what field they may be in.
If you’re intrigued, but unsure, head to an employment site and try looking up a few job titles, like data analyst, social media specialist, database services, database management. There’s no set rule for job titles in this field, just as the path to get into the field is still somewhat flexible. And don’t forget to look at the ALA job postings – there’s great jobs in Big Data right in the library, too!
So, if I’ve kept your interest this far, you may be wondering just how to break into this field. Step One: Become an SLIS student at WSU. Check. Step Two: Take relevant coursework, like LIS 7460: Database Concepts, LIS 7490: Competitive Intelligence, and LIS 7491: Data Analytics. Step Three: Check out the Information Management Certificate program. Step Four: Enjoy the fact the you’re in the right place at the right time to become one of those information professionals that employers can’t wait to hire!