I'm working on a library degree (MLIS) part time while I work in an academic library, and will finish up around this time next year. After much exploration and after making many, many lists, I believe I've found what I'd like to do after I graduate: I want to become an information architect. I took a class on information architecture last year, and the subject strongly appeals to me. I get excited about making site blueprints and wireframes. I like organizing, simplifying, and classifying things, as well as making systems easier to use. I think I would be good at this, and some statistics on the profession I've seen say that around half of the people in the field have MLS/MLIS degrees.
So many of the job listings I see are for what seem like hybrid jobs--they ask for people who can be information architects and also user experience designers. I plan on taking a class in human-computer interaction, but would a single class really prepare me for the UX side of the job? If not, how can I gain the needed skills?
I have better-than-average technical skills, but I'm not sure which skills are necessary and what's "nice to have." I am good at using HTML and CSS, and have used Visio in class. I'm fairly proficient at using Photoshop and Illustrator, but am definitely not a graphic designer. I think I'll be able to teach myself most additional things I'll need to learn. Which skills (tech-y and non) are essential for beginner IAs?
What should I be working on or taking full advantage of while I'm still a student? I just joined the Information Architecture Institute
because I think their mentoring program sounds fantastic and I'd like to find a mentor. I'm reading Boxes and Arrows
and Jakob Nielsen’s website
, on the recommendation of my IA professor. Are there any other groups I should join or websites I should read to learn more about the profession?
I see that most job listings call for a portfolio. Aside from class projects, I don't really have anything that could constitute a portfolio. What is the best way to handle this? Should I find a website and produce IA documentation on the existing site structure? Become involved in a project somehow?