Why do we need Information Management

    I am guessing most of the readers of this blog are in the University of Washington’s Masters of Science in Information Management (MSIM) program.  For those that aren’t, the MSIM program focuses on connecting Technology, People and Information.  I am sure you have heard the statistics about how much information is out there.  With the advancement of the internet, we have caused the amount of information in the world to explode.  All of this is well and good but the problem arises when you try to make sense of the information.  I was watching a TED talk recently that was basically an overview of what the MSIM program is without meaning to.  The talk is given by Thomas Goetz and it focuses on two things, first the use of fear to accomplish things and secondly the idea that more medical problems could be solved not by better medicine but by better information presentation. 

     As a security professional the  idea that fear wasn’t the best way to relay information was something that I hadn’t considered before.  If you have heard any sort of talk in regards to Computer Security you have heard that a hacker can steal you identity, your bank account and with a little effort your first-born.  Okay so I am exaggerating a little but every talk I have given or heard about Computer Security has been about the negative effects of not securing your network.  Then after giving presentations about how there is never a secure system they wonder why executives haven’t approved their expanded budgets.  I believe we, as security  professionals, are going about this all wrong.  Instead of focusing on how impossible security is, we need to start focusing on how we can make the network better overall with the enhancements that security brings.  In this realm I have found that UX people do a good job for the most part.  When they make a presentation about a new website design they don’t sit there and say how little traffic and how confusing the current User Interface (UI) is and then sit down. They quickly go over part of the problems the current UI and then go on to show how well their UI will work and what it can bring to the table.  Now this might just be an issue for Security professionals but I have a feeling it isn’t.  Overall, as professionals, we need to focus on the idea that has been thrown around this blog, and that is the Value Added principle.  Focus on what value you are going to add to the company and how much it will help in the short and long-term. 

     Now as a final statement, this doesn’t only apply to people working.  If you are looking for a job focus on what you can do for the company.  If you can get the other person even a little bit excited about what you could do for them or the potential you have to help their company you will stay in their mind.  And believe me the more good things you give the interviewer to remember you by the better. 

     Now I realize that this may not be new to most  of you but I found the talk incredibly interesting.  I have a link to it below in case anyone is interested.  What are you thoughts?  Is it better to go all positive?  Are there any drawbacks of only focusing on the Positive? Or is it better to talk about a combination of fear and potential?

Standing out in the job market

Information management is a relatively new field. What is it like to get a job with a degree in Info Management? First we gave tips about learning new software for a job, and now we’re helping you think about networking.

Picture of Ted Williams seat at Fenway park My first rejection letter came via email. Over three months of job searching, I placed 50 applications, received about 13 rejection letters, and didn’t get any interviews. The lesson I learned: even if your resume is professionally made, when you apply online, you’re only one more resume in a company’s growing pile of resumes. You are not a person to the recruiter or the hiring manager.

I played what I called “the numbers game” online. With the numbers game, I was applying to seven or eight jobs a day, on my more motivated days. I pored over job listing sites and searched company websites, seeking direct-hire positions. What I thought I knew: if I played the numbers game, I would eventually get an interview somewhere.

Two months ago – almost serendipitously – I landed a position as a Data Analyst with an international non-profit organization. Getting hired couldn’t have come at a better time; in December, I have to start paying back student loans. The numbers game may have panned out eventually, but getting hired, as it turned out, resulted from talking to someone in person.

What I know now: as useful and necessary as online applications are, nothing compares to meeting someone face-to-face. A hiring manger needs to know you’ll be a great fit for the team and the company. And really, as a job candidate, you need to know if the company and position is a great fit for you. This is why recruiters and hiring managers prefer to meet you in person instead of skimming your online resume. And why you should, too.

This recent lesson is in contrast to my behavior in graduate school; the entire two years I spent at the University of Washington, I had been advised over and over to get out and network. My professors and program alumni all said the same thing: networking will get you further than online or paper application will.

So why didn’t I follow their advice when I was there? Frankly, it’s because I often found myself wondering: What does it mean to network? It took some trial and error, but I figured out what worked for me, and here are some things you can do to get on the fast track to finding a job:

Attend conferences, school events, and other networking gatherings. These are great places to meet new people and let you do what’s really important: talk about you (and even just practice talking about you). Just be yourself and talk about what excites you the most. The people you meet and the relationships you build will lead to a job offer, I promise you.

Build a portfolio! Start during your first quarter/semester of school and save all of your projects. Papers you write, pictures you take, and videos you produce: save them all! Go online and create a portfolio of all of these things. Make sure you add the link to your resume. Don’t have any website building experience? That’s OK. There are plenty of free services online that will host and create your website for you.

Talk to friends, family, and neighbors about your job search. You never know where an opportunity will arise; it could come from the least likely of places and you’ll miss out if you don’t speak up.

Leverage social networking. Get on Facebook and Twitter (if you’re not already) or, if you host your own blog – whatever it is – let the world know you’re looking for work. In fact, once you’ve created your portfolio, share the link with everyone. Remember: showing is always better than telling.

Finally, in general, think of networking as an opportunity for you to get creative and market yourself when you are job seeking. Networking enables you to really dive in, exploit your strengths, and articulate what separates you from the rest. Most importantly: sitting at a computer limits your ability to use these skills, to let an employer see the real you and “wow” a hiring manager with your talents.

I’d like to thank fellow contributing author, Jordan Eschler, for co-authoring this piece. Photo by joyosity. Used in accordance with a Creative Commons 2.0 license.