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MSIM Elevator Pitch

by on March 9, 2010


After reading the article that was emailed out to the listserve and also discussed in Emily’s post, I started thinking about how difficult it is to condense the MSIM program into one or two sentences that make sense to people.

Kevin mentioned that employers know the value of the MSIM program and it’s generally students who have a hard time understanding and articulating it, so let’s try to help each other out here.

When people (friends, interviewers, etc.) ask you about the program, what do you say?



From → Original Content

  1. Emily Cunningham permalink

    Paul and I were talking about crowd sourcing our respective elevator pitches recently. I agree: this is sooooooo important. Unfortunately, I don’t have a good answer yet. I need to do more writing and introspection on this subject muyself. Where I have had success is demoing how I use/manage information technologies like Twitter and Google Reader. When I simply explain it to people, it doesn’t make sense, but when I show it to them, their eyes get wide.

    I also ask people questions like, “do you ever feel overwhelmed with information?” 100% of the time (thus far) people shake their heads fiercely, yes. I then go into how I’m being trained to be able to leverage information effectively to make organizations, companies, and individuals succeed. To enable them to become savvy information users instead of drowning, shackled, burdened. Information can be your best assent or your worst nightmare.

    Thanks for getting us thinking about this, Sanjeevi.

  2. Emily Cunningham permalink

    I also think the HP quote about knowledge management that I talked about earlier is relevant to this discussion. It’s a nice teaser that immediately gets people nodding their heads – you can almost see the light bulb start to glimmer in their minds.

    “If only HP knew what HP knows, we would be three times more productive.”– Lew Platt, Former CEO of HP

  3. I havent really got a well rehearsed elevator pitch as yet to pitch to prospective employers,but I get this question asked so many times (when I meet new people at church,during hiking trips and generally anyone I talk to ) that my usual definition goes like this “I am studying Information management,that deals with the use of information by organizations worldwide and how they handle the huge influx”

    After this I just branch of to describing what I believe my area of focus ie Human computer interaction which i can talk about for a while by quoting examples like Jakes app to allow blind people to use Iphone and stuff like that

  4. Colin Anderson permalink

    In informal situations, I’ve begun saying “it’s the bastard love child of computer science and business school.” That’s not actually very descriptive, but it’s cute enough to buy me time and interest. Then I try to follow up with an explanation of the difficulties of finding / filtering / understanding the massive amounts of information we have access to, how that’s relevant in multiple fields, etc.

    I haven’t found a way to nail it yet. I’ll keep working on it.

  5. Well, every time when I was asked about this question, I said “It is hard to define, but it is quite interdisciplinary.” Then I would follow with “It is made up of information technology and management” or an awkward explanation “it is about how to manage information.”
    But recently, I often described this program as “it is about the method to make information as a thing.”

  6. Gauravee permalink

    Before coming to this school, being asked informally I used to reply, ” It is about managing information”. But I am sure, no one must have understood anything by this reply. SO now when I am asked, I elaborate by saying ‘these days all kinds of organizations are dealing with abundant information. To make right use of information at right place,you need us.’ I, being more keen on analytics side, explain how MSIMers can analyze the existing data and come up solutions.

    I guess that is what we have been doing ever since we joined this course. For 510, 540, 530 we collected data, analyzed it and came up with solutions. Even 580 involved analysis of data wile writing papers, case study and response.
    So, in short we are creating value out of the existing data for the organizations.

  7. Surry Jones permalink

    This isn’t the ideal response just yet, but when asked, I’ve always replied that it’s a mix of IT and business, with the end result of becoming somewhat of a generalist between the two. I think the interdisciplinary background of the cohort and how the differing interests “mesh” is what interests people the most.

  8. Thank you for posting this topic. Then we have opportunities to collect all of our thoughts and make MSIM a perfect definition! I usually say, like what you said “the program is like a combination between IT and MBA. We help people to translate business needs into technical solutions….” Actually, I am not satisfied with this one. I am still looking for a better one.

  9. One of the things that I think that makes discussing our program difficult is that there are so many different — and quite divergent — branches of information science. People have a pretty good sense of of what you’re studying in fields like history, sociology, or chemistry. But us? We could be studying anything from data security, information architecture, human computer interaction, privacy policies and digital rights, the semantic web, business intelligence and management, public access to information, user experience, information technologies for development (IC4D) — the list goes on and on. Samantha Starmer, manager of User Experience & Information Management at REI, spoke to the executive 530 taxonomy/metadata class. She broke down the following areas of information science:

    Data Governance, Enterprise Content Management, Business Intelligence, Content Organization (e.g. taxonomy), Content Framework, Records Management, Ditital Asset Management, Master Data Management, WCM, SOA, Retention Management, Semantic Web

    I think the more we can be made aware, add to, and then articulate these different branches of information science, the better off we’ll be. Because we’ll be able to see where our interests lie, dive into them and compare and contrast them to the other branches as a way of explaining what we do.

  10. I blogged an invitation for the executive students to come and and join this conversation. Let’s crowd source this! And collectively come up with some great ways of explaining what it is we’re all about.

  11. Also sent this out to iChat. Hoping we generate a lot of discussion among all iSchoolers. I think MLIS, Informatic, and PhD students could add some very valuable perspectives.

  12. Aditi Sundarraman permalink

    I find myself tweaking the pitch depending on whom I’m talking to.

    Similar to what Colin and Surry mentioned, my pitch is : It is in an intersection of the CS and Business School.
    What I find really interesting about the pitch is that it really depends on your background. I come from a quasi CS background ( elec/communications enggn), and I see myself working in the tech domain, although not as a programmer, but using the Managerial Skills I learn from this degree.
    Unlike MS degrees with pretty set specializations, where most of the cohort comes out with similar skill sets, I think the MSIM course is quite open-ended. Much of your pitch can be phrased partly with what you did, and what you want to do, and the description would still fit the course, and what you do here.
    I think this flexibility of the pitch can really work well for us. Such is the beauty of Information Professionals.
    However this vague generality does frustrate me at times. I do feel kind of “on-the-fence”, and wish I could say with emphasis that this is EXACTLY what I do!

  13. David Braun permalink

    I recently went through a round of interviews and changed my MSIM pitch depending on my audience. Sometimes I started off by saying it was a “techie MBA”. Other times I skipped that and went the Eisenberg approach… Creating and managing systems in our daily lives that people use to manage the overwhelming amount of information we are dosed with. After that, give real world situations that make that previous sentence mean something. One example that I was given via Mike Eisenberg was the frustration of hospital systems. Why do you have to give your name and info at the ER, and then again in the check out room, and then again in your hospital bed? We are the people that can fix this problem. Something like that. I got the job, so it worked 🙂

  14. I’ve been trying something like Colin’s line about “it’s a cross between an MBA and a library science degree,” but that’s usually met with as blank a stare as when I tell them I’m studying information management.

    So…maybe I’ll try something like:

    If you’re drowning in data, I’m the lifeguard.

    Or: If you need to find a needle in an information haystack, I’m a magnet.

    Or: I’m like the information doctor. If something’s not feeling right about the way you’re working with data, I’ll diagnose it, prescribe a treatment, and help you implement it. But… you really have to WANT to get better.

    Dunno… just spitballing here. 🙂

    I think Eisenberg’s hospital example that David mentioned is a really good one; I’ll probably use it, too.

  15. Emily Cunningham permalink

    Examples are essential, I think, in explaining information management People need real-life situations that they can draw on. Does anyone have any other examples? I can think of Expert Labs and the gov2.0 work they’re doing. What they’re trying to solve is an information problem. They’re trying to connect the federal government with the innovative ideas and expertize of their citizenry.

  16. Deepti Shah permalink

    I often describe MSIM as a program where we get to learn basics about almost every aspect of a business like management, design, etc., and thereafter we decide what field we want to pursuing in the future.

  17. I, too, have found it tricky to describe our program without triggering the “Oh, so it’s IT?” response. I used to talk about “bridging the business management and IT worlds,” and how our training “balances between the pillars of Design, Management, and Technology.”

    Lately my key phrase is “systems of people and information” – examining and designing to improve them, with technology as a relevant but tangential consideration in such systems.

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