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.
29/08/2012 § 29 Comments
As a second-year SLIS student, I’ve talked to quite a few new students in my program who are anxious about securing library jobs. I can understand how they feel; after all, one year ago I was a freshly minted SLIS student. I had never gotten paid to work in a library. I came to library school with the sage advice of my mentor, a very recent library school grad, ringing in my ears. She had conveyed to me in no uncertain terms that I should work as much as I could while going to school to build my resume. Because of her, I came to library school knowing I needed to jump right in—-but that didn’t make the process any easier.
By now I’ve held several jobs and it has led me to realize that my real education happens when I go to work every day. I view my coursework as something to get through; if my classes are enjoyable it’s a plus. I have taken enthralling classes, practical classes, boring classes, and enragingly irrelevant classes. They’ve fallen all over the spectrum. So while I attempt to do well in them, my main priority is working as much as is feasible. I firmly believe that library jobs should always trump coursework because if you do not work, you will not get a job in a library upon graduating. We could squabble about the particulars (maybe you could get a paraprofessional position without experience) but I don’t think it’s contestable. The library job market is intensely competitive and the more library experience you have, the better off you will be.
With that said, the following are a few tips I have for new students looking to work while in library school.
14/03/2012 § 8 Comments
Last semester I took an Academic Libraries class that required me to interview an academic librarian. I reached out to Courtney Young to help me complete this assignment. Ms. Young is Head Librarian & Associate Professor of Women’s Studies at Penn State Greater Allegheny and serves on the ALA Executive Board.
The goal of the project was to get a real world perspective on some of the special academic library issues we had discussed throughout the semester. While I drafted interview questions to address this objective–I couldn’t help but see the interview as an opportunity. I was pretty confident that my interviewee had a hand in hiring at her library. Getting an interview can be tough, getting feedback from a hiring manager can be even more difficult. Knowing the struggle that many of my peers are facing in the job market, I thought it would be a good idea to ask her what she looks for in a job candidate. Courtney Young had some brilliant and unexpected advice that I hope you can put to use as you look towards the future and begin your job search. « Read the rest of this entry »
27/12/2011 § Leave a Comment
The job market is lurking in the minds of many of us who are about to finish up our degrees. It’s a tough market out there and getting a library job is not an easy feat. Fortunately, ALA has great webinars that help prepare job seekers for the library job market. On January 4, 2012, at 2:00 pm Eastern Time, Andromeda Yelton (@ThatAndromeda) and Tiffany Mair(@tiffanylora) will lead the conversation on job hunting strategies. This won’t be your usual webinar, this one will be interactive, engage people in conversations about various topics related to job hunting. Participants will be framing the agenda and sharing solutions as well. We plan on it being a very active and engaging session! HackLibSchool will also be helping out by moderating a Google Doc that participants can contribute to, as the webinar is going on. We hope that you join in, it’s free!
Register today to join the discussion with Andromeda and Tiffany on Wednesday, January 4, 2012, 2:00 p.m. Eastern.
28/11/2011 § 6 Comments
For those of us preparing to graduate in the next several months, it’s time. Time to get ready to job search. Or, as I’m known to do, it’s time to prepare to get ready to job search because, hey, you can’t be overly prepared, right? This piece isn’t about applying for jobs themselves–for that, turn to Heidi’s post from earlier this year– but the few weeks or months of preparation before you start: the “holy crap where do I even begin to look or know what I’m looking for?” stage, if you will.
I am by no means a job-seeking expert, but I do have a running joke with my family that I collect part-time jobs, so I’ve been friendly with my resume and cover letters for a while. Spending time tweaking and polishing your official application materials is important but I’ve found that the job search preparation process is just as important. What am I talking about? Here’s a few tips to make your search a little more organized.
1) Face the facts
For the last semester, I’ve subscribed to just abaout every relevant job-seeking listserv out there. Among my favorites are I Need a Library Job because you can sort by state, Lib Gig Jobs because I don’t have to sort through dozens of non-relevent job openings, ALA Job List because even though they have a lot of intermediate and upper-level jobs I get a sense of where my career could be headed, and ILI-L, ALA’s Information Literacy and Instruction listserv because that’s the type of job I’m looking for.
The benefit of subscribing to listservs is 2-fold: first, you can get a sense of what’s out there now. Do you really want to move back home to Ohio but in 4 days you only ever see 1 job opening? You might want to consider another location, at least temporarily. Do you have your heart set on cataloging in a special library? In a few days, you’ll see how many positions are out there. It’s a good reality check. And don’t forget: ain’t nothing wrong with part-time (for now)! Second, you can see where your skill sets are useful and what needs to be improved on. For me, after reading dozens and dozens of job descriptions, I have a pretty clear understanding where my shortcomings are and because I still have several months until I graduate, I can start working on them now.
Be warned: subscribe to the digest version if you can! Because the last thing I want to do is get distracted by potential jobs during finals, I have a list-serv folder in Gmail, subdivided into the specific list-serv, and I have all the emails directly routed to the folder. That way I can look at them when I’m ready. Check out Lauren’s post on special libraries and Annie’s post about art libraries for resources.
2) Get the word out
If you’re going to ask people to be your professional references, which, by the way, you should always ask, give them plenty of notice. Some people want to be notified of every job you’re applying to so they can be prepared to be specific, others just want a sense of the types of positions you’re looking for, and others still might want to write you a stock letter of recommendation. The point is, now’s the time to figure out who will be your references for what kinds of positions and to give those people a heads up. Many academic positions want letters from your references and the more time you can give them to write it, the better the letter will be and the more your reference will like you (no one wants a 1 week deadline). It’ll also open the conversation for your professional mentors to talk to you about their job search, what skill sets they see in you, and any tips they might have.
I have a Google Calendar to keep track of deadlines, required application materials, and an estimation of how long the whole application will take me to put together (overkill? That’s my middle name). Point is, figure out what works for you to keep up with deadlines and whatnot. Now’s the time to nail down an organizational structure. For example, I have a “job search” folder on my hard drive, and within that folder, I have folders for every position I apply for that includes the job description, any research I might have done on the organization, my resume, cover letter, references, and any supplemental materials they require. I like to group them by type: academic, public, instruction, outreach, etc., but that’s just me. Again: what works for you?
What strategies do you use for the job-search preparation process?