February 18, 2005 11:13 AM   Subscribe

I am on my way to getting a MLIS degree, but since I am more interested in the tech side of things, I was thinking of switching to my school's MIS graduate program. Advantages, disadvantages? Are MIS degrees worth anything anymore, or is the tech job market still so bad that I would be better off sticking to a MLIS?
posted by TheIrreverend to Education (5 answers total)
If you're looking for a tech job, having a magic acronym by your name (MLIS or MIS) is helpful in getting past the first round of gatekeepers at a larger company, but after that it's what you know and how motivated you seem.that will get/keep you the job.

However, more importantly, Librarians are sexier than techs.
posted by alana at 11:31 AM on February 18, 2005

Looks like you're in Philly; if it's Drexel you're talking about, your library school has a really good tech reputation, so I doubt the difference would be great. You can probably take some elective credits in the MIS department if you want to get a feel for the difference in the coursework.
Speaking in terms of post-grad school employment, it's my understanding that people who don't know what an MLIS is just ignore the L and pretend it's an MIS degree, but people who are looking for an MLIS are looking for an MLIS. Why limit your options?
Personally, I'd vote for not changing horses in mid-stream; you can probably focus on tech stuff within your current department.
posted by willpie at 12:04 PM on February 18, 2005

I have an MLIS and have been working in the tech industry (software developer/architect/engineer) for several years, and never actually worked in a library. The path of how I got here is long and convoluted, and I won't go into it.

Sometimes I get puzzled questions in interviews as to how an MLIS relates to the kind of work I'm doing, and I just say stuff about knowing how to organize information and understand users' information needs. I took a few tech related courses in school (this was 1996-2000), most of which were useless and one of which (database design) really struck my fancy. Everything I know in software development, I learned myself, so it had very little to do with school.

However, I do agree that having the degree says something about you to the "gatekeepers", whatever it may be.
posted by matildaben at 12:54 PM on February 18, 2005

I'm a freshly minted MIS (well, 05/2004) that flirted with going the opposite route (toward MLIS). This was my first job search in the new field (previously worked in legal support) and compared to other searches seemed to take ages (6+ months of Resumé & Networking Hell). The problem seems to be that the job market is fuzzily defined. If you lean too far techie in your search you're competing with a billion CompSci grads to pound out Java middleware. If you go too far IS, well, I found it to be a bit barren outside the Beltway--not in my target range. All of this to say, keep the MLIS and just gear your coursework toward tech whenever you have the option. IMO you'll have a much broader field to plow for employment prospects.

As for me, it worked out quite well in the end and am presenly working on a metadata-intense video archive project in the field of ethnomusicology. So, if you ignore my advice, good things can happen.
posted by Fezboy! at 1:48 PM on February 18, 2005

Oh, and take a couple CompSci classes as electives. Sort of wish I had done that now.
posted by Fezboy! at 1:50 PM on February 18, 2005

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