"I am a fiercely independent person and I was dubious about the heavy team component of this program, but it has turned out to be life-changing. I have gained real-world skills in communications and project management, and the social and emotional intelligence needed to lead a successful team."
Bilingual information resources specialist Erin Rivero works in a special library of early childhood education materials. She wasn't necessarily seeking her next role in her career, but rather to round out her skills. She joined the Master of Management in Library and Information Science online because USC's reputable business school impressed her.
"As a top-ranked business school, USC provides its library and information science students with a powerful professional network supported by a well-known reputation for excellence," Erin said. "The opportunity to take library and information science courses through the Marshall School of Business lends credibility and legitimacy to the process of earning a Master of Management, and this distinguishes USC's program from competitors. Marshall's MMLIS is truly the first of its kind, and I would not have pursued this program without this outstanding level of distinction."
Her typical day includes providing technical assistance and training, as well as servicing resource requests for the Head Start division of the Los Angeles County Office of Education (LACOE), the largest Head Start grantee in the nation. She joined the MMLIS program with a desire to reach more people more effectively.
"USC's Marshall School of Business has prepared me to reach the resource center's broad internal and external audiences, including college students pursuing early childhood education careers, in-house professionals, as well as parents and staff at 18 public and private nonprofit preschool agencies," Erin said. "It's also helped me integrate management and leadership principles into my present role to distinguish between effectively running the ship and inspiring the crew."
With a goal of honing her leadership skills, Erin knew her preference to work independently could be a major obstruction to developing her management mindset. The teamwork aspect of the MMLIS degree completely changed her outlook.
"My favorite thing about the program has been the opportunity to work in teams — something I genuinely never thought I would hear myself say!" Erin said. "I am a fiercely independent person and I was dubious about the heavy team component of this program, but it has turned out to be life-changing. I have gained real-world skills in communications and project management, and the social and emotional intelligence needed to lead a successful team."
"The MMLIS program requires close collaboration with teammates, which leads to strong personal and professional relationships," Erin said. "My initial team of MMLIS classmates consisted of some of the best and brightest people I have ever worked with. We subsequently started collaborating on research projects and goals outside of class, and collectively formed the 2016 officers for USC's student chapter of the Special Libraries Association. We continue to connect and collaborate on a weekly basis, and I imagine we will stay connected for years to come."
Adjusting to online learning took an initial toll on Erin, but now she feels the time management and communication skills the courses require directly enhance her job performance.
"USC Marshall encouraged me to prioritize my health and well-being, and to explore tools and resources to keep myself on track," she said. "Over the course of the first four months of the program, participating in online courses also helped me develop team leadership and project management skills, as well as all-important communication skills necessary to be successful in life. As a result, I found a rhythm, and my academic workload simmered to a much more reasonable time commitment. I now feel comfortable with the balance."
"In my first semester as an MMLIS student, I took Management Communication for Leaders with Dr. Marion Philadelphia, which was one of the best courses I have taken as a college student," Erin said. "I learned how to lead an effective virtual team, how to understand myself and others from a strengths-based perspective, and how to set and achieve personal communication goals — all of which proved immediately useful in my personal and professional life. The practical content has been crucial in my development as a communications leader."
Now Erin feels prepared to lead developments and confidently adapt within the fast-changing future of library science.
"Today's library science professionals are no longer the gray-haired shush-ers of yesteryear," she said. "Over the past 20 years, we have seen the internet take center stage in libraries, as functional literacy has evolved into its newer digital offshoots. Today's library science professionals are no longer gatekeepers of information, but guides. USC is preparing me to help others navigate the modern flood of content available from print resources to digital media to virtual reality."
Since starting the program, Erin has earned her bilingual designation. She decided to pursue it as part of her communication development plan for her first semester coursework. Her effort led to an immediate, substantial pay raise, she said.
"I would absolutely recommend USC's MMLIS program to someone who is looking to advance his or her career," Erin said. "The program is powerful and has already helped to propel my career forward."