A Tale of Two Part-Time Library Jobs

09/11/2012 § 12 Comments

Editor’s Note: This is a guest post by Alex Harrington.

“It was the best of times, it was the worst of times,” may be a bit melodramatic, but “it was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness” fits pretty neatly when I try to describe my graduation from library school. See, I didn’t plan ahead, and I had no idea what to expect job-wise when I finished. I thought that having a graduate degree in library science meant I was automatically qualified to be a librarian. But I learned better, and now I have two part-time jobs in libraries (plus one non-library job). This is not what in-library-school me thought that after-library-school me would be doing, but so far it’s working for me. Because some of you might find yourselves in similar situations whether you expect to or not, I hope sharing my story and some advice I’ve learned along the way will help you in your post-graduate job searches.

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[Series] Hack ALA: Professional Preparations

12/06/2012 § 19 Comments

Calico cat laying in my briefcase

by Michael Beck under CC license via Flickr.

Editor’s Note: This follows in a series of posts in our annual Hack ALA Week dedicated to all things conference-y and professional. As students, it’s important to get your feet wet in the LIS professional world early, and as often as your budget allows. While these posts are ALA Annual-themed, much of the advice can be applied to other professional networking situations.

It’s time to get yourself ready to attend ALA or whatever other conference or professional networking event you have on the books for this summer.

Sometimes preparations before the event take as much time and are just as important as attending itself. You can review some of our previous posts about what to wear, attending without attending, and conference planning for some great general tips and information for surviving a conference —  and we probably don’t need to tell you to plan your sessions early so you have ample time to research presenters or sessions you definitely want to see.

Conferences are not only about taking in new new information, they are an invaluable networking space. Here are some prepatory hacks with an eye on networking and professional development to get you ready to confidently hit the conference floor.

Business Cards

There was a twitter discussion which thoughtfully included HLS recently about business cards and the result was yes, they are still valuable and desirable to have. You don’t want to be that guy/girl littering every hand with a business card but you do want to have them at the ready. It isn’t too late to get some printed for ALA and they don’t have to be expensive. You can even get blanks at your local office supply store to print at home.

Dave Delaney has some good quick tips for a better biz card; I particularly liked his ideas to have whitespace for the receiver to make their own notes and possibly include a picture. As a student, you probably want to include your institution name, degree sought and expected graduation date. At the least they should look professional and have your current contact information.

Update Everything

Speaking of contact points, have you updated your professional documents and public profiles recently? Hopefully you will be making lots of new contacts and connections and you don’t want to send them to an outdated website with an old resume. Now is the time to polish, proofread (again) and prep your professional accoutrement including your…

  • Resume
  • Cover letter
  • List of references and recommendation letters
  • A drafted follow-up contact email (“Hello XYZ, It was so great to speak with you at ALA…)
  • ePortfolio (you do have an eportfolio right?)
  • Professional website
  • LinkedIn profile
  • Twitter Account (including your avatar and bio)

It also might be the time to scrub your Facebook or other social media sites of anything that might raise eyebrows to a potential employer or peer — the former will almost certainly check and it is best to know how you appear to the outside world.

Start the conversation early

Twitter is a powerful tool before and during conferences. Follow #ala12, @alaannual and of course @hacklibschool for all the latest updates (if you don’t have a Twitter account you should strongly consider getting one but you can also access in any web browser). Also, never underestimate a conference buddy! Post in your school’s Facebook group or ListServe, and talk about attending in class to find out who else might be going. You shouldn’t only spend time with those you know but it helps to walk into a room with one familiar face, for information sharing and you can also divide and conquer conflicting sessions.

While you are on LinkedIn updating your profile with your most recent experience, have you joined the ALA group? They sent out some great information this past week specifically for job seekers.Did you know you can get a “Librarian for Hire!” ribbon at the JobLIST Placement Center to put on your badge? And – shout out to Anaheim locals! – there are free resources if you are attending the conference or not. ALA also has its own resource of professional networking hacks for new librarians also for non-attendees and attendees alike. If you are going, make sure to get yourself ready to check out the exhibitors hall and the Networking Uncommons.

Keep calm with your carry on?

Finally, what will you pack and what will you pack it in? While a suit is likely overkill for a conference, you should be thinking about what you plan to wear. Will you depend on the likely conference bag giveaway or do you need to bring/buy a suitable conveyance for your stuff? Will you use a notebook, laptop, iPad, Phone etc for note taking? It is good to start thinking though these logistics so packing is a breeze and you have what you need when you arrive (don’t forget pens!).

Hopefully the hacks herein are good notes and reminders for all of us to get our professional lives in order — you never know who you are going to meet so best always to be prepared! Tune in for the rest of the week as we tackle more on ALA12 and beyond.

Did I miss anything? Something unneeded or unclear? Let us hear about it in the comments!

PS – if you missed it yesterday, be sure to check out our recommended sessions and events for ALA12. Also of important note: You should definitely come by and say hi at the Hacklibschool / Library Boing Boing Meetup on Sunday evening and our Conversation Starter is June 23rd — you can still add your voice/question here even if you wont be attending. 

Presenting at Conferences while in Library School

21/05/2012 § 27 Comments

There have been some terrific posts about conferences on HackLibSchool in the past: Chris recently wrote about unconferences and Joanna wrote a post earlier this year encouraging students to attend conferences as a library student. Today I want to take these posts a step further and encourage other future librarians and information professionals to not only attend but also present at conferences while in library school. I concluded my spring semester with a panel presentation at a state conference (Society of Indiana Archivists) and a poster presentation at a national conference (LOEX), where I had such great experiences that I want to encourage other library school students to take the plunge and do the same.

To reiterate some of the reasons Joanna mentioned in her post, attending conferences is a valuable part of your library school years because of the networking opportunities, educational takeaways, and considerably lower student registration costs. When you present at a conference you get all of the same benefits of attending while also gaining valuable experience for your resume/CV. After presenting at a conference, you will have documented evidence of contributing to the profession (a great way to prepare for those job postings that say “demonstrated commitment to professional development” preferred/required!). It also shows that you are comfortable with public speaking, which I guarantee will make you stand out on the job hunt.

There are multiple types of presentations at conferences (poster, panel, and paper) and conference sizes (local, regional, state, and national). They each have their own culture and provide different opportunities for student presenters. Poster presentations are usually the format students are encouraged to take up at larger conferences (a pretty low-pressure introduction to conference participation), whereas smaller conferences will likely accept paper sessions from students and working professionals.

So, why don’t all library school students present at conferences? I’ve determined a few main barriers to conference participation and thought I’d offer up my tips on overcoming them.

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Everyone Needs a Personal Cheerleader

07/05/2012 § 4 Comments

Photo Credit to Flickr user jaynenddJob hunting is a tricky beast to master. The process is emotionally draining at times, there are so many things to be excited/anxious about. For some of us who have just finished our last semester of school, this is the prime time to start looking. Most people advise that you start your last semester, especially if you are interested in academic libraries, because the hiring process can take months. If you’re trying to juggle school, a job, an internship, and job hunting, this can all be really taxing. That’s why it’s important to have a support group, or someone who will be your personal cheerleader.

My first semester of library school, a new librarian told me that he wouldn’t have made it through his last semester without his good group of friends. Now that I am in that exact situation, I couldn’t agree more! A couple months ago, I tweeted about starting a “library school support group” and many people responded with joining the New Members Round Table group. While I agree with this advice and think there are several great services that the NMRT offers (like this mentoring program), I was thinking about having a group that was more personal. People who you actually feel comfortable saying how you really feel and know who you are on a personal level. You can’t always publicly voice everything you’re thinking because it might reflect badly on you. Constantly whining on Facebook or Twitter about your life is a real turn off for a lot of people. But when you’re job hunting and you’re constantly being rejected, it’s hard not to get emotional or down sometimes. We’re all human, and no one is perfect. I have my bad days and that’s when I rely on my friends.

Your cheerleaders should be a mix of people who have known you for a long time and people who can advise you professionally. I am fortunate to have a professional mentor, someone who isn’t afraid to tell me what I’m doing wrong with my cover letters or that a job just isn’t a good fit for me. My partner also does a wonderful job encouraging me when I feel depressed, or doesn’t mind looking at my stuff in case I missed something important. I’m also grateful for my friends and fellow hackers who share cute things with me or make me laugh, because sometimes you just need stress relief. It’s about having a balance between people who aren’t afraid to tell you the truth, people who can understand what you’re going though, and people who don’t quite understand, but want to get you out of the house anyway.

In this day and age, it’s becoming much easier to connect with like minded folks, or keep in touch with friends from out of state. Just being able to tell someone about your day can be just the relief that you need. Personal cheerleaders lift you up when you feel down, and cheer you on when you win! You don’t have to be at the end of your academic career to have a support group, it’s always good to have people you care about around. And don’t forget to pay it forward when someone else needs an ear!

Is LinkedIn worth the effort?

04/04/2012 § 18 Comments

A classmate from my Transformative Learning and Technology Literacies class at San Jose State University sent me a LinkedIn connection request about a month ago prompting a total revamp of my oft-neglected and unfinished LinkedIn profile.  I realized that my profile needed to be presentable if my classmates were going to be looking at it, and also because, oh right, I’m graduating soon (I mean, I hope!).  And not to mention that part of the coursework for the above mentioned class includes creating our own Personal Learning Networks, or PLNs, which a LinkedIn account could be considered a part of.

So, of course, I said yes to the connection request, because it’s a part of a class assignment, and it might be good for networking for future jobs and lifelong learning–but oh no my profile!  I hadn’t looked at my profile in a year, and never really completed it to begin with, and I doubt I’m alone in this predicament.  As I became consumed with the task of making my profile presentable and exploring all the site’s features, I got excited about the possibilities that LinkedIn could offer, but after investing a lot of time (time I could have spent on Facebook!) updating my profile, I began to question the usefulness of such professional-based social networking sites, particularly for MLIS students and job-seeking librarians.

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