Many students come to the iSchool in preparation for technical careers like data analysis, user experience (UX) design, or front-end/back-end web development. Others hope to gain technical skills that compliment their training for careers such as librarianship, archives and records management. Last week ASIS&T/AWIT hosted their first TechTalk event of the year to address this very topic. The information session featured a panel of second year students who shared their knowledge about technology courses in the iSchool and at UT. The panel also offered personal recommendations for courses based on each attendee’s career goals.
General Technology Courses
Database Management and Data Wrangling are good courses that will build useful skills for a variety of professions. Both courses teach MySQL but in Database Management students also learn PHP while in Data Wrangling students learn Python. The difference in programming languages is because Data Wrangling takes more of a data analysis approach whereas in Database Management students build databases for websites. Database Management is notoriously difficult to get into due to its overwhelming popularity. You have to register for the course almost the second that registration opens because both the class and waitlist fill up so fast.
Designers & Developers
For students interested in becoming a front-end developer, Usability, Interaction Design, and Information Architecture and Design are recommended. Information Architecture and Design is not exactly a technology course since it deals with the way organization is arranged on a web page but it is a good complimentary course to other tech courses. While the iSchool doesn’t offer computer programming courses, students may take courses in different departments at UT, such as Computer Science (C S), if they want to learn new programming languages. User experience (UX) designers can also benefit from the courses mentioned above. Oluwatoyin Ige, an iSchool student studying UX design, shared a list of recommended courses for designers in an interview posted on Info Portal a few weeks ago. Students who want to do software design might look into additional courses in Electrical and Computer Engineering (ECE).
Data Science & Analytics
The panel recommended Information Retrieval for students interested in data science or data analysis. Outside of the iSchool, the panel suggested that students take courses like Machine Learning and Data Mining from the Computer Science (C S) department, and Statistical Methods from the Department of Statistics and Data Sciences (SDS). Additionally, SDS offers three hour software Short Courses which UT students can take for only $30 per course. View Short Course offerings and reserve a seat here.
Librarianship, Archives & Records Management
The panel did not discuss courses related to these career fields since everyone in attendance is pursing careers in design, development and data analysis; however, I did not want to exclude archives, librarianship and records management from this guide. Students interested in digital libraries, digital archiving or digital asset management also have technology course options available to them at the iSchool. Survey of Digitization, Digital Humanities and Digital Archiving and Preservation give students hands-on experience with digitization technologies. The general technology courses listed above could also be useful for these career fields.
If you want to take a technology course outside of the iSchool you should check with your academic adviser to ensure that the course will count toward your degree. iSchool students can take a limited number of elective courses in UT departments outside of the iSchool. There are also policies about the number of credits that can come from a single department and if an undergraduate course qualifies in your degree program. Your adviser can answer any questions you have and make appropriate recommendations for your course of study.
Other Technology Resources
If you want to learn about what technology skills are needed for your intended career path, you can contact an iSchool student organization for advice. They can help you network with former students for guidance. UT students have free access to a massive library of video tutorials on software, creative, and business skills at Lynda.com. Instructions for how to access Lynda.com with your UT EID can be found here. Additionally, the technology resources page on the iSchool website provides an extensive list of services and software available to students from the iSchool, UT and other external sources.
It’s impossible to cover every technology course and resource available but hopefully this short guide gives you a good idea of where to start looking. Have you taken a technology course or know of a resource that wasn’t mentioned? Share in the comments section below.
The University of Texas – Austin ASIS&T / AWIT
The UT-Austin student chapter of ASIS&T (The Association of Information Science and Technology) seeks to promote the professional and academic development of all UT-Austin students working in the fields of information science/technology. We sponsor lectures, panel discussions, and networking events with practitioners in the field. We also provide various resources, career advice, and opportunities for community engagement. We are currently focusing on areas such as information architecture, user-centered design, web design, and usability; however, we are also interested in other specialties and areas more broadly within the field of information technology work and information studies. UT-Austin ASIS&T also works closely with AWIT (Advocating for Women in Technology), another UT iSchool student organization that holds events focused on the issue of gender diversity within the IT field.
For more information about the ASIS&T and AWIT organizations, please contact us!