Introduction to Programs Week: Culture and Technology (C&T)

By Christina Bondi (C&T alumna, 2019)

Hi there! I’m Christina. I completed my Master of Information (Culture & Technology) in June 2019. Currently, I work as a Communications & Information Management Officer for Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada. I’m also a part-time Teacher of English as a Second/Foreign Language (TESFL) student at Algonquin College.

There are many fond experiences attached to my time as an MI student! Based on these experiences, I have included some tips below for future or new students.

Artist book final project for De/Constructing the Book workshop (this image and the first article image).

Don’t feel pressured to take on two concentrations.

When I first started my Master of Information in September 2017, I found that most other Culture & Technology (C&T) students were also taking another complementary concentration, such as CIPS or UXD. I mulled over whether or not I too should jump on the bandwagon and declare two concentrations. Even after looking into the required courses for other concentrations, I still wasn’t sure if I wanted to take the plunge. Would I select another one and regret it later? Would I not find the courses in this second concentration as interesting? Would I feel like I’m missing out on other exciting elective courses?

In the end, I decided to stick with just C&T. For me personally, it was the right decision. I was able to dip my toes into other concentrations, by taking a CIPS course, a few LIS courses, and so on. I was also able to enjoy many wonderful elective courses that piqued my curiosity. Because I had more autonomy in what I added to my timetable, I delighted in each and every selected course.

Sometimes, it pays off to take a course you wouldn’t normally take. It may lead you onto and down a path of transformative personal learning.

In my second semester, I took my first LIS course: Critical Infrastructures (INF1324H). I found myself drawn to the course summary and received positive reviews from other MI students. By the end of my two years in this program, I completed most (if not all) of the LIS courses. This wasn’t planned. I selected courses not always realizing that they were required for a certain concentration. It just so happened that many of the courses that caught my interest were from the LIS concentration! What I particularly enjoyed about these courses was that I could still incorporate my passion for popular culture into the assignments. In The Information Experience (INF1323H), I interviewed three cosplay hobbyists. For a group project in Representing, Documenting, and Accessing the Cultural Record (INF1321H), my team members and I resituated mid-1800s maps into a board game, replete with Torontonian historical architecture and ghost stories. Returning back to Critical Infrastructures, I wrote one paper on the Don Jail’s flawed infrastructure and another on grocery store self-checkout interfaces.

Creative project for Critical Infrastructures (INF1324H).

Actively seek out courses that have group work/projects.

At first, when I heard that the Faculty of Information upholds the importance of group work, I must admit that I was a bit worried. I studied Classical Civilization in my undergrad and assignments were, more often than not, to be completed independently. But now, looking back, I am grateful for such opportunities. Honestly, I wish that I took more courses with collaborative assignments. I enjoyed learning from fellow students, as we all came from different undergraduate backgrounds and even MI concentrations. This program is truly interdisciplinary. I’m sure you will hear this repeated quite a few times, but it couldn’t be truer: teamwork is an essential skill to have when entering the workforce. In my current job, I work collaboratively with coworkers almost everyday.

Group project for Critical Making: Information Studies, Social Values, & Physical Computing (INF2241H).

Don’t overdo it with the extracurricular activities. You’ll burn out.

I always do this to myself. Whenever I start something new, I am filled with an excitable energy that inspires me to immerse myself fully into that something. I always get too carried away with extracurriculars and then need to pare back.
In my first year, I signed up for a dizzying number of clubs and committees—some specific to the Faculty of Information, while others were offered by the University of Toronto more generally. I quickly realized I had bitten off more than I could chew. I didn’t have any down-time. I barely left campus. I was completely exhausted. My mental health was at risk.

In my second year, I decided to focus on just a couple. I was elected into the Master of Information Student Council (MISC) as a Social Committee Co-Chair and remained an active member of The iJournal (that year, as a Managing Editor). I was able to dedicate more time to each extracurricular and enjoy them more fully.

This is a professional program. Embrace the many professional development opportunities available to you!

Yes, it is important to do well academically. However, you may want to think twice before dedicating all your time and effort to your GPA. This program has so many incredible opportunities for professional development, such as co-ops, job shadowing, and networking events. I even wish I attended more iSkills workshops or scheduled an appointment with one of the Faculty’s career officers. I did take the Information Professional Practicum (INF2173H), and it was such a rewarding experience!

Final project for Information Professional Practicum (INF2173H).

Want to chat? Feel free to reach out to me via LinkedIn!

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