#ABetterU: Meet Drexel Online Student Nicole Picano Nicole Picano, MS in Library and Information Science Wednesday, July 16, 2014 In today’s economy, many have been faced with the question of whether or not to head back to school. For some, their career necessitates a graduate level degree to pursue their passion. This was the case for Drexel University Online student Nicole Picano.Enrolled in the online Master of Science in Library and Information Science (MSLIS) program, Picano pursued the Digital Libraries concentration.“I knew that after my Bachelor’s degree I wanted to work in a library setting,” said Picano. “Receiving a Master’s in Library and Information Science was my next step. I felt that a graduate degree would help me gain more experience so that I could obtain a job.”Tasked with picking a school to pursue her graduate degree, Picano started conducting research and making pro/con lists to help narrow her choices. In addition to research, Picano attended virtual open houses and information sessions to get answers to specific questions. She asked as many questions as possible knowing “a good school will always answer you back no matter how many times you ask the same questions.”Ultimately, Picano chose Drexel University Online as her school of choice. Its top-ranked degree program, reputation and staff, as well as advice from her family and friends, helped to shape her decision. “I always felt as I was a part of Drexel from the time I applied until the day I started my classes,” said Picano. “I could tell by talking to admissions that the reputation of Drexel transferred to the online environment with curriculum and professors. No question was too big or small for them to answer, and they were always happy to help.”Picano believes the best aspect of online learning is the ability to sign on at any time of the day to work on projects, listen to lectures and talk on discussion boards. In her online program, she was “always able to get in touch with professors in less than 24 hours and they were willing to talk through Skype, Google chat and on the phone to help you understand concepts.”While pursuing her online program, Picano participated in an internship and worked with the Internet Public Library (ipl2), a public service organization and learning/teaching environment, as a reference administrator. She processed questions that would come through reference/research categories, answered patrons’ questions, provided student feedback and conducted reference interviews. Due to her success, she acquired a new project where she was one of ipl2’s social media administrators. In addition, Picano is also a new American Library Association (ALA) round table committee member, where she has conducted a few chats on various topics in Library and Information Systems. “The classroom work at Drexel has been very useful to my career,” said Picano. “In my classes I gained experience in learning how to conduct a reference interview, which is information I have applied to my ipl2 position. I’ve also gained hands on practice with the creation and evaluation of metadata records, learned to use Adobe Dreamweaver software to code my own website, and built a thesaurus using software and a database using Oracle. All of it has helped because it has provided me with application projects that will assist in my career as a future librarian.”Picano’s drive, determination and leadership qualities have led her into becoming a student peer mentor for the College of Computing and Informatics. She helps to answer students’ questions about the program and monitors the peer mentor discussion boards in Blackboard.“My opportunities would not be possible if I did not have the hands on learning experience from my classes at Drexel,” said Picano. “I am currently working with an intern from another school on a project, where I am the only one with metadata, thesaurus and grant writing experience, aside from the professor. It’s nice to say that my classes at Drexel gave me these learning experiences that allow me to apply what I have learned.”Through group projects and classroom discussion boards, Picano has made close friends within her program.“I have met so many people in my program at Drexel and have stayed in touch with a lot of them. We Skype with one another every month to say hello and catch up. I noticed a big sense of community with students and professors in the Drexel online environment.”As if school and work weren’t enough, Picano still finds time to pursue her other passions, including skiing, traveling and reading. In her spare time, she is learning to play golf and has taken the extra steps to participate in a few lessons. To be featured as our next student or alumni in our #ABetterU series, please email Sabrina Ram at firstname.lastname@example.org.