Graduate Program Admissions Essay

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My interest in information science first emerged while working on household survey and clinical research projects at RTI International and Duke University Medical Center. While working in different roles in project management, operations, and training, I became involved in a variety information technology activities including, managing a field test of new project hardware and software; identifying functional requirements and creating specifications for project websites and data collection tools; testing systems; providing troubleshooting support & software training; and working as a liaison between management and IT staff for system changes and new developments. I immediately recognized the centrality of information systems in research not only because they facilitate high quality data collection and analysis but also because they support logistical, training, managerial and communication activities among project staff who are typically organizationally and geographically dispersed.

As I was exposed to a broader range of software applications I became increasingly interested in how they were designed and implemented as well as how they could best be used to enhance the quality and efficiency of work. Working closely with managers, programmers and end users to develop and modify our project systems, I began to recognize the diversity of perspectives that impact decision-making and shape how problems are defined and solutions analyzed. These differences could have significant impacts, both negative (i.e. miscommunication, conflict) and positive (i.e innovation, improved quality) on the project's success. I found that with a greater understanding of these differences, we were able to communicate more clearly, better anticipa...

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...nd the interfaces that I and many of my management colleagues so often take for granted and I've developed a more nuanced view of both the costs and benefits of system development and implementation. However, I am limited by my superficial knowledge of the technical aspects of systems development, especially in the areas of user interfaces, database and web development. As a result, this fall I began taking SILS courses through the continuing education program and have decided to pursue the Masters degree in Information Science. Having discussed the graduate program with SILS students and graduates, faculty and my supervisors at RTI, I am convinced it is the best program to further my career goals which involve integrating my project management experience with a more sophisticated understanding of system and application development, implementation and analysis.
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