It’s that time again! My final year of library school is beginning and rather than an early case of “senioritis”, I’m feeling more anxious that this time will be gone soon. A time where there is plenty of room for learning and testing the waters and where one doesn’t have to make a commitment yet.
When I first decided to pursue this career, I was frustrated by the lack of information on what I should do to get ahead and come out on top in the end. That’s why I started this blog. So here is what I’ve done this past year and how I got these opportunities.
My first year was a blast! I got a crash course in librarianship and I fell in love with it. I am so excited and looking forward to my new career. My first year was completely paid for thanks to the Institute of Museum and Library Services, so I had plenty of loan money left over to participate and work on professional development. I got the scholarship through my university, so it was much easier to procure that funding, but there are tons of options for funding all kinds of opportunities in librarianship. Just do what we are taught to do…..search!! That’s all I did! I also joined listservs. ALA and NCLA are a great start. They send out job opportunities as well as scholarship applications that have opened up and calls for proposals for conferences.
I got my attendance to the NCLA 2011 conference paid for because I applied for a scholarship. I also volunteered at the registration desk at the conference. This allowed me to get to know the people behind the scenes and they introduced me to everyone they knew in the profession. Also, I attended the ALA conference as part of my scholarship, but I won a free 3 course dinner with some amazing professionals because I applied for the drawing and entered an essay. I entered my name through NCSLA to get a mentor and she’s awesome! She’s been a great help and has introduced me to some important people. I entered my name again through another organization and have another mentor as well.
NCCU students at NCLA conference
I go to any networking event I can, participate in any free webinar that sounds remotely interesting (available through ALA), and hand out business cards like my life depended on it! These not only show you what is current in librarianship, but you can also put it on your resume and it shows that you are committed to learning all you can.
I went to the Public Library Association conference (there was a scholarship for this one, but I didn’t get it) and with the information from this conference, NCLA and ALA, I feel like I know the current issues within librarianship.
(Tip: Every conference has a student scholarship available and even a scholarship for first time attendees or professionals for some)
I was a representative for North Carolina libraries at Library Legislative Day in Washington, D.C. I was nominated for that one and solely because I got out there and people knew me. I’m pretty sure my involvement with NCLA and as a volunteer and now Page at a public library factored in.
(Tip: VOLUNTEER! My volunteering led to a job in a public library. It’s a lower end job, but it gets me in there and I can see firsthand what goes on and get to know people in the profession.
As well as working for a public library part-time, I have been volunteering for another. The advantage is that I am not constrained by the worry of job protection. As a page, I am constrained by my job duties and can’t do much outside of that, so by volunteering I’ve been able to work the reference desk and I just got done planning my first library program. I wasn’t able to attend, but I hear it was a big hit! I designed and created a library murder mystery from scratch! I am incredibly proud of myself and my supervisor and Head of Adult Services was so impressed that she insisted that I remember her when I need a recommendation of any kind.
Lastly, I studied abroad in Denmark to study public libraries there. Met some fantastic Danes, some new future librarian friends and fell in love with Danish library architecture. This was through my university and I had to pay for it, but it was sooo worth it! These opportunities are unique and make you stand out. Also, (although it hasn’t gone through yet) I got approached to present about my experiences there. This is what you want!
Copenhagen Main Library
Helsingor Public Library
The Black Diamond (University Library)
Oh no! I’m sure I’m leaving so many things out!
Oh! JOIN JOIN JOIN
Join your student organization! Hold an office if you have the time. I was Vice President of mine and I cannot tell you how valuable it is to now know how hard it is to hold a leadership position, to plan and how to mediate. I also helped plan a colloquium event for our department and this was a great experience as well.
ATTEND ATTEND ATTEND
Put your face, intentions and aspirations out there! Let people get to know you and what you’re all about. From one of the networking things I went to, I got word of a job opportunity in Madrid, Spain! In the end, it didn’t work out, but this professional knowing my interests led to this amazing chance to work in a library in Spain. It works!!
MAKE A GOOD IMPRESSION!! If people like you, especially in this profession that is full of so many friendly and inviting people, they will remember you and think of you when opportunities come up. They will also talk about you to other librarians and influential people.
This is all super hard to handle, especially with a full load of classes, but in the end it will be worth it. (at least I hope so!)
I got my second year of library school paid for through the Spectrum Scholarship through ALA, so I’m super stoked! This is an amazing program that has many successful alumni and I get to go to a leadership institute next summer in Chicago during the 2013 ALA conference! Again, I applied! There are many other scholarships I have applied for and didn’t get and although in the moment I was extremely bummed out and felt inadequate in some way, there are plenty more where that came from!
Right now, I’m applying for the ARL’s Career Enhancement Program, which is a paid fellowship with member universities and for a student scholarship to the ACRL conference in Indiana in April.
This first year was about public libraries and this year will be about boosting up my academic library experience. I am interning at Meredith College (my alma mater) this fall semester. I will be doing reference mostly, but also dabbling in acquisitions, ILL and some other fun things I feel like I will need to know about.
I am also getting ready for applying for jobs. I have compiled a list of all the jobs that I would love to have and from that, am making a list of all the skills and qualifications I would need to get that job. This way, I know what I will need to brush up on to be competitive. A webinar I did said that the process for working in academic libraries is long, so it’s okay to begin applying a year in advance. I was a little stressed that I am a little behind in my academic experience to begin applying, but I’ve gotten so busy with other opportunities that I haven’t found the time to worry anymore!
I found this great list of skills that librarians should know and I’m using it as a template as well to beef up my knowledge base.
PLANNING PLANNING PLANNING
Two years is such a short time! It will take a lot of planning if you are serious about becoming a librarian and being extremely successful. Know what your goals are and what you want before you even go in but also be flexible!
1) Have a job or fellowship or another type of career opportunity lined up before I graduate
2) Begin my career and apply for the Emerging Leaders program
3) Become a Library Journal Mover & Shaker
4) Attend IFLA at least once
5) Live/work abroad for at least 2 years
6) Get published
7) Give a professional presentation
This is all I can think of at the moment, but I think that’s enough for now!
Fall 2012, here we go!