“Having an online program gave me the opportunity to travel while in school. I loved and appreciated the team collaboration in combination with personal work. I was able to attend the ALA Annual Conference in New Orleans while still attending live sessions and finishing assignments and projects because of the flexibility of the program.”
The path to a University of Southern California Master of Management in Library and Information Science online degree wasn’t a straight line for Alisa Haines. Like many working people considering higher education, she needed time to make sure she pursued a career that matched up with her interests.
“I have worked various odd jobs, including a five-year stint with Starbucks. I always knew I would be going back to school. I just didn’t know the exact path I would take to get there,” she explained.
Alisa’s love of all things Disney combined with her interest in travel led her to pursue further education at the College Program at Walt Disney World in Orlando, Florida. However, she quickly found that a career in the travel industry wasn’t what she wanted.
Her love of children and a desire for stability led her to consider becoming a medical assistant. She could spend time with kids all day while earning a stable salary. However, this path didn’t spark her passion. She wanted to have a more immediate impact on the lives of children and their families.
In the end, it was Alisa’s love of literature along with a family connection that led her to complete the USC MMLIS degree online. “My mom got her MLIS degree from USC in 1968 when the program was still connected to the science department. I would be a second-generation Trojan graduate,” she said.
Participating in an accredited program was another factor in choosing the USC MMLIS program. “I knew I needed to attend an ALA-accredited program due to the fact that most, if not all, employers require degrees from accredited schools,” she said. “I applied to USC because I knew it was accredited by the ALA.”
Alisa knew she’d made the right decision once she experienced the flexibility of taking the USC MMLIS program online. “Having an online program gave me the opportunity to travel while in school.” The format of the curriculum allowed her to complete assignments ahead of time if she knew she would be busy during specific periods.
She also liked the team collaboration nature of the coursework. “I loved and appreciated the team collaboration in combination with personal work,” she said. “I was able to attend the ALA Annual Conference in New Orleans while still attending live sessions and finishing assignments and projects because of the flexibility of the program.”
Alisa feels she benefited greatly from the well-rounded nature of the program. “Because the USC MMLIS and LIM Certificate programs are part of the Marshall School of Business, we are lucky enough to not only partake in library classes but business classes as well.”
Alisa felt some uncertainty around how interactions with professors would be handled. “I had never taken a 100% online program before, so I didn’t know what to expect when interacting with professors during class live or [in] one-on-one sessions.”
Her fears subsided as she got used to the flow of her courses. She received prompt replies from her professors when she emailed them with questions. Alisa also found them receptive to giving her more extensive attention as needed. “Professors have always been willing to schedule one-on-one sessions via Zoom to offer help or answer questions regarding writing assignments or projects.”
One specific professor helped her feel prepared for each upcoming week. “Professor Curtis would send us weekly emails (specifically on Tuesday nights) to summarize the previous week and to lay out the upcoming week’s expectations ― I came to appreciate and expect these emails!”
The care and concern exhibited by her professors went a long way in helping Alisa feel connected to the entire class. “Even though I was a part of a large cohort, I never felt as though I wasn’t my own person. Each professor made me feel a part of the class. My opinion and voice were valued and listened to during the live sessions,” she said.
Alisa appreciates the benefits of learning from professors who are top in their field and having access to USC’s resources. “We are also connected to the vast USC library database, which opens up a world of possibilities when it comes to research.”
Completing her USC MMLIS degree makes Alisa feel prepared to take on a variety of career possibilities. As she puts it, “I have always said that I want [to] be a children’s or youth services librarian when I’m done with this program. I know I have been prepared, above and beyond, to enter the field of librarianship, and I am ready to find the perfect location and job.”
The USC MMLIS online degree program emphasizes skills that play an essential role in the careers of modern librarians. Many graduates go on to fill positions such as teachers, tutors, business professionals and mentors. Learning to manage resources, including people, is a skill students learn that can carry them down a variety of career paths.
Alisa is forever grateful for the sense of community she built among her peers, faculty and other graduates of the USC MMLIS online degree program. “My cohort classmates and fellow graduates became like family,” she said. Disconnecting from weekly course discussions has been one of the hardest parts of moving forward. “I actually miss talking to them weekly.”
Still, Alisa knows she can rely on them as she pursues her next stage in life. “The Student Support Services are like big sisters ― they are always there if we need a shoulder to cry on or an ear to vent to. But they truly care about our progress, our successes and our failures. They want to help as best they can.”
While she’s still deciding where she wants to go next as she wraps up her USC career, Alisa feels positive about her future. “Each course I have taken in this MMLIS program … has prepared me for the job market and finding the right job and location.”