Why I’m getting my Master’s of Information (or at least an attempt to answer that question)

Assorted tools, safety goggles, and one very destroyed Nike tech chest strap

When I tell people that I’m at U of T for my Master’s of Information, I am nearly always met with a puzzled look. Information? Like, all information? You mean IT? (Cue Justin Bieber: What Do You Mean?) (This was the first reference to the Biebs on this blog, and you can rest assured it will not be the last.)

Usually, I give a short, laughing answer – something like “oh, you know, information systems” or “information management” – and just shrug it off.

The truth is that I don’t have a nicely packaged answer for what the degree is, or what I plan to do with it. Here’s what I do know.

I came to U of T thinking that I would eventually go to law school, but after a week or so of politics and economics classes, I realized that was not the case. I switched up my schedule and studied English and Jewish Studies. I liked it, and for a while, I imagined academia as the road ahead.

But then I started writing for The Varsity. Writing turned to associate editing, associate editing to editing, and editing to editor-in-chief-ing (which I’m declaring a verb for our purposes).

I liked writing, but I didn’t feel the same hunger to chase news stories that some of my incredibly talented colleagues at the paper felt. I was happy in my editor shoes, and even more so in my managerial role.

I became really passionate about working at the paper. I was excited to go into the office every week (or more accurately, every waking hour). I was passionate about the journalism, but I came to realize that what I was enjoying above all was the process. I relished the teamwork, the problem-solving, and the feeling of making something. One of my favourite parts of the job was working with the design team and talking through decisions based on students’ experiences as users of our print and digital products.

At some point in all of this, I decided to apply to the iSchool. I wasn’t totally sure that I had the right credentials for the program, but I saw that the type of work that I was interested in was happening in the tech world, and I was eager to develop the skills that would make me a more effective team player there.

I’m now a couple weeks into the program with about 200 pages of reading to do as I write this post, as well as an assignment due a week Monday and many more looming over the coming months.

In the past few weeks, I’ve learned what an Arduino is and coded one to broadcast morse code in LED lights, an abbreviated history of the computer, an introduction to Python, and a lot more than I ever thought I’d need to know about binary code.

So, what’s an MI and why am I doing it?

I think the answer is that it’s something like a hybrid computer science/management degree, or at least that how I plan to use it. I still don’t have a perfect response, but I’m learning a lot, and I’m excited to go to class every week – and if there’s anything I’ve learned from working at the paper (and for the record, there’s a lot), it’s to follow that feeling.

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