Michelle Chronister is using skills she learned at the iSchool in her job at the Institute of Museum and Library Services (IMLS), researching how people use their digital products and figuring out how to improve the user experience.
Where do you work and what is your role?
I recently started working as a user experience and accessibility consultant at IMLS, which is the primary source of federal support for the nation’s libraries and museums. In this role, I conduct user research to better understand how people use their digital products and then translate the findings into concrete actions for improvement. It’s an iterative and never-ending process!
Prior to working for IMLS, I was the content branch manager in the Digital Communications Division of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. I led a team that was responsible for the content, design, and experience of HHS.gov and other priority agency websites, including FoodSafety.gov, StopBullying.gov, and MentalHealth.gov.
What do you like best about your job?
I like knowing that the work I do directly impacts the public and contributes to more positive interactions with the federal government. It also gives me great satisfaction that what I’m doing specifically at IMLS makes it possible for libraries to provide better services to their communities.
How did the iSchool help you get to where you are today?
I was active in the ALA student organization and attended the ALA Annual Conference through the Student-to-Staff scholarship. ALA placed me with the Federal and Armed Forces Libraries Round Table, and this experience prompted me to apply to the Presidential Management Fellows program and pursue a federal career.
Once I started working for the federal government in the digital space, I drew heavily upon my iSchool classes in information organization and access as well as a user experience course. These courses provided a solid foundation for my career and have allowed me to expand my expertise into areas I never considered when I was a student.
What advice would you like to share with iSchool students?
Take advantage of the opportunities available to you as a student! Get involved in student groups, apply for programs specifically developed for students (such as ALA Student-to-Staff), ask questions, and use your student status as a way to start conversations.
What do you enjoy doing in your spare time?
I have a toddler, so my spare time is limited, but when I do have time to myself, I enjoy writing fiction and poetry, reading novels, and baking. I make an excellent coffee cake.