Twanna Hodge, 2011 i3 Scholar

“My focus was to become a librarian, but I didn’t have a good enough idea of what graduate schools to attend.”

Currently the first University of Utah Diversity Resident Librarian, Hodge was able to look back on her time and involvement with the i3 program with gratitude. When asked what she wanted to do professionally before i3, she responded. “My focus was to become a librarian, but I didn’t have a good enough idea of what graduate schools to attend.” i3 did more than help select the schools to which she would later apply. “It gave me the opportunity to meet others who were excited about and who were interested in becoming librarians. I received the resources and information I needed to make that a reality.”

Twanna was born and raised in the U.S. Virgin Islands (not to be confused with the British Virgin Islands nearby) and received her bachelors in Humanities with minors in communication and psychology from the University of the Virgin Islands. After her 2011 institute, she applied to several schools and chose, among many acceptances, The University of Washington School of Information.

But the road to graduate school was not so direct. The summer before, Twanna took a detour through Washington, DC where she interned at the Smithsonian’s National Museum of American History. “The internship introduced me to the multitude of jobs within the museum” she says, “and how the different parts all work together to engage the whole person with the goal of leaving them in awe of the museum.” Read more about her internship experience at the Smithsonian here.

The average day for this former graduate student at the University of Washington included morning classes once or twice a week, lunch, then about four hours of work at the Suzzallo and Allen Libraries in the afternoon, followed by 2 to 4 hours organizing, and studying for the next day or meeting with student organizations. Twanna participated in several extracurricular activities. She was co-president of the student ALA, logistics coordinator for iEquality, a student group that focuses on color issues in the iSchool, and vice-chair of iWorld international. She was also awarded membership in several national, professional groups including the American Library Association’s Spectrum Scholars and ARL’s Career Enhancement Program Fellows. Twanna graduated with her masters in the spring of 2015.

Her first professional job search she describes as much more intensive and extensive than her graduate application process. She began applying the first quarter of her last year in the masters program. “It’s a waiting game, you send them out and you wait to hear back.” Out of the 16 jobs applied for she had five phone interviews and three in-person interviews before being offered the Diversity Resident Librarian Position. “I felt like [Utah] was the place I needed to be.”

Twanna offers this advice to those who wish to travel down a similar path:

Graduate School Applicants: “You have to be organized especially if you are planning on applying to more than 3 schools. I created a spreadsheet with information about funding priority deadlines, and who I asked for letters of recommendations. Give your recommenders plenty of time to write you a brilliant letter. Make sure to talk to people at the organization you want to attend. Usually they have a current student you can talk to about more personal questions such as funding, classes, professors, things and features that nice brochures they send you might not include.”

Current Graduate Students & Job-Seekers: “From day one cultivate relationships with faculty members, staff, and the people you work with. Save up some money because moving is not cheap ($3k for moving expenses, rent, etc.). Be open-minded and have a checklist of what you cannot live without and things you can give up. Keep your CV up to date and triple check everything when applying to jobs. Make sure you follow the instructions and customize your application materials for each job. Then put the cv/resume away for a couple hours so you can see your mistakes.”

For All i3 Scholars: “There will be times you think it’s in your best interest to give up. Giving up doesn’t make you a failure, but really think about what you want to do. The vision of the future that you have is stronger than anything you will encounter and you will encounter many things that will challenge that dream. But the vision of the person you dream of being one day is bigger than any darkness. There were a lot of times I didn’t think I was good enough, talented enough, smart enough to be able to do the things I have accomplished. My vision was to help people. In order to achieve that goal, I had to help and take care of myself and keep that outcome in mind.”