Student Spotlight: Stephanie Rinehart

Name: Stephanie Rinehart 
ProgramMS in Library and Information Science
Expected graduation year: 2019 
Job title: Key Account Partner 
Company: Southern New Hampshire University 
LinkedIn profile

Tell us a bit about yourself.

I’m a 31-year-old New Hampshire resident with two cats, one dog, and a boyfriend. I’ve been working in online higher education for the past eight years. My hobbies are photography, drinking expensive coffee, and hunting for the perfect donut.

What is your academic background?

I received my bachelor’s in English from Shepherd University in Shepherdstown, West Virginia. I wanted to go straight to graduate school but I had a meltdown over the GRE. I started working right out of school— first as a contractor with the Army, and then with an online for-profit university. I took classes here and there, in management, human resources, web design, criminal justice, but I had a hard time committing to any one program. When I switched jobs, I did the same thing—I’d start taking classes, and the classes were well done, well taught, and informative, but I personally didn’t feel passionately about what I was choosing to learn.

 That definition is not exclusive, though. It just works for me. Information management also defines manipulating the content that impacts tactics and operations, or developing competitive advantages. It’s a broad topic, and my guess is that no matter what you’re interested in, in 10 years it’s going to be a requirement that you interact with information.

What made you want to explore a career in library and information science?

I’ve been passionate about research since my undergraduate career, when I had to learn information literacy skills to be successful in an English program. As I started working, I learned that even if everyone brings valuable skills to the table, not everyone has basic information literacy skills. After becoming the researcher on each team I’ve been on, I decided that I wanted to pursue a program that interests me, ignites my passion, and can set me on a track for the career I really want—as a librarian.

How are you applying what you are learning in your program?

I can apply a lot of what I’ve already learned to my current role in marketing and recruitment. As a specific example, my reference class (IST 605) taught me excellent interview skills, how to get to the root of a question being asked, how to plan a lesson plan for future presentations, and excellent customer service skills. 

What do you plan to do after you graduate with your master’s in library and information science?

I tend to focus on the goal at hand, which is completing my MLIS right now, so I haven’t thought about after graduation in any concrete terms. I know that I would love to have a job that focuses heavily on research and providing customer service skills. I want to pursue a career in a library or a non-traditional setting combining my education with my current marketing experience.

How will this degree move you closer to your long-term career goals?

Marketing was never my first choice for a career. It’s something I fell into and happen to be very good at. I wanted to be a librarian since mid-point in my undergraduate program. My dad’s partner is a librarian and I’ve always been interested in what he does and how it impacts a community. My MLIS helps me realize my dream of being a librarian.

Tell us about your experience collaborating with classmates in an online environment.

I’ve already made great friends in my cohort! Two people, in particular, come together with me to discuss projects and assignments, bounce ideas, and discuss concepts that I need a little help with. I’ve had a wonderful experience working on group projects and getting to know my fellow students.

What advice do you have for others considering this degree?

Take a deep breath! I had a hard time making such a big commitment that would change my life so profoundly, but I’m grateful that I did. I’m learning, making friends, and investing in my future.