|SLIS congratulates Nancy Kranich ('73) on receiving the American
Library Association's Ken Haycock Award for Promoting Librarianship! A former ALA President (2000-2001), Ms. Kranich has been a important advocate for access to information, testifying before Congress and chairing numerous ALA committees focusing on intellectual freedom and civic engagement. Currently a special projects librarian and lecturer at Rutgers University, she is described as "one of the best library thinkers of the day" by a supporter. Read more here.
Recent grad Stephanie Kuenn ('14) is the Marketing Analytics Strategy Manager at the National Restaurant Association. Read on to learn how she is using her SLIS degree to cultivate a unique career.
What was your career path that led you to working with the National Restaurant Association (NRA)?
I started out my career in publishing, first in magazines and then moving to the publishing department at the American Library Association. I moved into a marketing communications role at YALSA (Young Adult Library Services Association) after that. In my five years at YALSA, I managed a website redesign, managed the launch of The Hub and the Journal of Research on Libraries and Young Adults, wrote (and won!) a couple grants, launched YALSA's social accounts, and managed the development and launch of YALSA's Teen Book Finder app. It gave me a pretty varied skill set, and I knew I wanted to try some new challenges. I was taking a lot of technology classes through SLIS at the time, and a specialist opened up at the NRA for someone with an interest in digital communication and a background in project management, and I just couldn't pass it up.
Once I got there, my interest in data and customer-focused design led me into my current role as the Manager of Marketing Analytics Strategy, which I moved into last September.
You have an atypical job for someone with a degree from SLIS, so how do you use your degree in the position that you have?
My job is not a traditional library job, but my SLIS coursework was a great reinforcement for the on-the-job skills I learned. My practicum involved gathering user data for an online legislative library and recreating their tag taxonomy for better browsing, and using Google Analytics data to analyze user behavior. Just today, I got approval to lead a redesign for one of our company's websites. I learned quite a bit about this in my Information Architecture class, where we redesigned an actual site in WordPress, and in a project management course I took during my final semester, where we created use cases, project flows, and other stuff I'm going to be doing in the next six months, albeit on a larger scale.
In addition, there are soft skills that SLIS helped me develop. My management coursework helped me a great deal when I became a manager. And because I was in the distance program, I learned how to use collaborative tools like Google Docs and Basecamp, which is handy because my company is split between two cities.
I also had to present a lot of information to my classmates, and the combined work in public speaking and PowerPoint was huge. I currently deliver weekly PowerPoint decks to some of our partners about the success (or shortcomings) of our marketing performance, and I know the experience I got creating and presenting in various courses helped me become confident in this area.
Will you describe your typical day?
No two days are the same, but I'll try! I have a lot of meetings, but I try not to have any before 10 so I can catch up on email when I first get in. Every week, I pull together data on our marketing tactics—response to our email marketing; clicks, impressions, and conversions on our paid search; metrics on our website traffic; revenue data when we have it, engagement with our social media—and then I create an Excel dashboard to find patterns and identify trends. Depending on the product or tactic, I'll then create an accompanying PowerPoint deck to illustrate those trends and recommend how we can better serve customers based on that data. It sounds a little dry and boring, but it's actually pretty fun, particularly because it allows me to think about how we can best help our customers and members get what they need from us.
Please tell us about a goal or two you have in your current position.
I'm about to start a huge project this year, to redesign ServSafe.com, which is our food and alcohol safety training website. We're working with a marketing agency to do in-depth usability research, freshen up our look and feel, and make some changes to our backend to create a better e-commerce experience. It's a huge project and the site gets over 100 million pageviews per year, so the work I'm doing is going to affect a lot of people—and hopefully make their career training something they look forward to doing.
How has your time at SLIS influenced your career?
While I was at SLIS, I had a baby and switched jobs, and I had very good grades, so I'd say one thing SLIS influenced me on was the importance of time management! I learned the importance of focusing on customer needs and smart planning, and how doing those two things can ensure success no matter what you do.
SLIS is proud to announce Assistant Professor Rebekah Willett is a 2015 Library Journal Mover and Shaker! She is honored as a Community Builder for her efforts to bridge the gap between the classroom and the community. An important part of SLIS's curriculum is service learning and Willett's exceptional teaching and outreach efforts contribute greatly to students' experiences and the wider sphere of Madison-area libraries. Learn more about Dr. Willett's projects in Library Journal and at rebekahwillett.wordpress.com
Congratulations on this well-deserved award, Dr. Willett!
The Trans-Atlantic Social Science Data Archive Research Project Team: (left to right) SLIS PhD Student Ellen LeClere, SLIS MA student Rebecca Lin, SLIS MA student Morgaine Gilchrist Scott, and Professor Kristin Eschenfelder (On screen is Co-Principle Investigator Kalpana Shankar from University College, Dublin)
Professor Kristin Eschenfelder was appointed as a Vilas Distinguished Achievement Professor in spring 2015. The appointment recognizes Eschenfelder’s excellence in research and service, including her involvement of SLIS students in her research on data sharing and data archives. Her current Sloan Foundation funded project examines how social science data archives in the US and Europe reacted to challenges to sustainability from 1960 through the early 2000s. The project study team involves SLIS MA student Morgaine Gilchrist Scott, SLIS MA student Rebecca Lin and SLIS PhD Student Ellen LeClere. SLIS alumni that have worked on earlier stages of the project include Jenny McBurney now at MERIT library at the UW School of Education and Andrew Johnson Metadata Librarian at University of Colorado at Boulder.
Matt Tischer (’13) is an Archivist at Zayed University in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates. He answered a few questions about living internationally and how his time at SLIS prepared him for the field.
What drew you to working internationally? Was it your intent when you started at SLIS?
I never considered working overseas until after graduation when a friend told me about some of the opportunities in the U.A.E. I was immediately fascinated by the idea. It’s an incredible opportunity to grow professionally, travel, and learn about other cultures.
What is most challenging about working outside of the US?
The hardest thing for me is being so far away from friends and family. Communication with people back home can be difficult given the time difference. For instance, we are ten hours ahead and weekends are on Friday and Saturday. So, it feels like I’m constantly out of step with things in the U.S. However, the U.A.E. is a very friendly and welcoming place. People go out of their way to make you feel at home.
What is the most rewarding aspect of working outside of the US?
The most rewarding part of the experience for me is getting a chance to see the world from a different perspective. Before taking this job, I had never traveled outside the U.S. It is a great privilege to be able to do so because you never look at things quite the same again.
What practicums or experiences did you have at SLIS that prepared you for your current position?
I did my practicum with Wisconsin Historical Society's Visual Materials Curator, Andy Kraushaar. While working for him, I digitized a collection of nineteenth-century nitrate negatives. I also worked with UW Images and Media Archivist, Vicki Tobias on an independent study that was modeled on the SLIS practicum experience. So, in a way, I had two practicums. Both projects were indispensable because they gave me the chance to complete real world projects with top flight professionals in the field. In both cases, I developed online projects that I’ve been able to point to when applying for jobs.
Do you have any advice for current or future students?
This probably goes without saying, but make the most of your practicum and work as much as you can in the field while you’re completing your degree. The library/archives community in Madison is full of incredibly generous people and institutions (such as Wisconsin Historical Society) that are willing to help SLIS students develop professionally. We are very lucky in that regard.
As far as working internationally, I would advise those interested to keep an eye on the Gulf region. The U.A.E. is growing rapidly and investing a great deal in education and cultural institutions. Also, I would suggest familiarizing yourself with international standards. I’m happy that my archives courses at SLIS did a good job of exposing me to international archives principles and methodologies.