Peter Musser didn’t get involved with the GSS when he first arrived at UBC. He wasn’t sure what he could do for the society, but sometimes it takes someone else to spark your enthusiasm, to push you along the road.
“It was really down to Davey Gill one of the outgoing councilors from my Department. He was really, really, persistent in trying to find someone to replace him. He kept bugging me to take part and to attend in the AGM so I could see what the GSS was about. I could see it had been a major positive for him during his time at UBC so I went along. I’m grateful to him for that.”
Joining the GSS
“ I realized there was a need for folks who had management and analytics skills and that was something I could add.” Peter Musser
Peter became a councilor for his department although his first experience in the role was not a complete triumph.
“The first two council meetings I attended failed to achieve quorum, which kept me from actually being appointed for two months. That was frustrating and also a really great way to help me find a niche where I could effect change. I realized there was a need for folks who had management and analytics skills and that was something I could add.”
Analytical thinking has always been a part of Peter’s professional life. In 2016 he left a role as a language and intelligence analyst for the US Navy to pursue a career in library and information studies. He jokes that “I wanted a job where I could actually talk about work with family and friends when I go home for holidays”, but he was mainly motivated by a desire for a role in the not for profit sector that would allow him to make a visible difference. “One of the frustrating things about intelligence was that if you did your job well, no one finds out what you did,” and so he enrolled on the Master of Library and Information Studies (MLIS) programme at UBC’s iSchool.
Although the settings are very different Peter has found surprising links between the worlds of intelligence and library studies. “Ultimately they’re both about finding and organising information. The way you have to think is not too different”, but he has not lost sight of the reason for coming to Vancouver: helping others. Over the past two years he has developed his academic interest in how online platforms like YouTube can be used to help folks get an education.
“There’s a lot of scope. Even Universities could definitely be smarter about using platforms like YouTube. Uploading full lectures, with poor quality audio is not good enough. They need to design a strategy specifically for the platform and provide content that students can enjoy and use.”
In fact, Peter hosts his own educational YouTube channel where he uploads videos about library and information science. “Studying it is one thing, but actually cutting your teeth on a skill is important to really understand it. Plus, it’s my way of sharing more about a field that doesn’t seem to get a lot of credit broadly, and I think that’s a shame!”
“Being in the GSS has given me a lot of exposure to the grad student experience outside of my own program, which has been really invaluable.”
Peter hopes to continue working in online education after graduation. Whether this is within the University or at a small not for profit, working with the GSS has provided experience that compliments his academic study.
“I’d never worked in a non-profit on the board of directors. Being part of the governing body of GSS helped me understand what it’s like to be part of an organisation with a membership, with volunteers and Board of Directors. You learn how to get things done and when things don’t go your way, you can appreciate why the rules are needed.”
“On the informal side of things, being in the GSS has given me a lot of exposure to the grad student experience outside of my own program, which has been really invaluable. It’s really easy to find yourself siloed from all of the really great things going on at UBC, and GSS is a really potent way of breaking out of that.”