[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 Hopefully you will be making lots of new contacts and connections and you don’t want to send them to an outdated website with an old resume.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. 


[Series] Hack ALA: Our Recommended Sessions

11/06/2012 § 1 Comment

Editor’s Note: We are happy to kick off our second annual Hack ALA week! We’ll be dedicating posts this week 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-themed, much of the advice can be applied to other professional networking situations.
These are just some sessions that we think are orientated towards library school students. We also encourage you to independently explore sessions that you are interested in. Also be sure to check out the exhibitors hall and the Networking Uncommons while you’re at the conference.

HLS Stuff

Conversation Starters: Hacking Library School

When: Saturday, June 23, 2012 – 10:30 am- 11:15am

This conversation starter seeks to bring together students and professionals to talk about issues pertaining to our education and our field. It will be a moderated conversation with guiding questions such as: What aspects of library school curriculum prepare you for the job? What emerging technologies enrich your education? How do you “hack” library school? Hack Library School is about being the change that you want to see. What would you change? We hope to see you there!

Hacklibschool / Library Boing Boing Meetup

When: Sunday, June 24, 2012 – 7:00pm-9:00pm

Come meet the #makeithappen crowd at the joint Hacklibschool / Library Boing Boing Meetup at The Ranch Restaurant & Saloon (1025 E. Ball Rd.,www.theranch.com) on Sunday evening. We’ll be waiting for you in the Saloon.

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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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Vote for HackLibSchool!

15/03/2012 § Leave a comment

Photo Credit to Flickr User Dean Terry

Photo Credit to Flickr User Dean Terry

Guess what everyone? We are pleased to announce that we have our first Conversation Starter Proposal for ALA Annual this year! Conversation Starters are 45 minute, discussions focused on emerging topics and trends. Ours will be a facilitated conversation focused on issues surrounding the library school experience. We hope it gets voted in and that those of you who are planning on attending Annual this year will join us.

This year, ALA is trying something new and is allowing members to vote on what proposals they want to see. This is from their website, “Your votes will count for 30% of the total, while ALA staff votes will also count for 30%. The ALA Conference Committee will weigh in with 40% of the votes, and we’ll announce the accepted proposals in early April.” Help us out, read more about our proposal and vote for us!

Going to conferences as a student is great for networking. Hope to see you there!

Why you should register for a conference ASAP

10/02/2012 § 32 Comments

Zombie Frommelt badgeHere we are in the second month of the semester and if you are new to your LIS program, you’re probably just trying to get your feet under you (as I was a year ago). Old hands are re-acclimating to the familiar not-enough-hours-in-the-day feeling and we are all looking at due dates, reading lists and task lists with dread.

For the first time or the 10th, you might be drowning in a sea of acronyms and the thought of adding ALA, MLA, SLA, or AMIA seems like it will shortcircuit your brain. Believe me, though, the effort of finding a good conference and then attending is going to save you tons of time, energy and even money in the long run.

It is worth it to add this to-do to your plate in a place of priority. Hack Library has published some great resources for hacking a conference, particularly the Grandaddy of them all ALA (herehere, here and here). Even if you can’t make it to Anaheim this summer, you ought start planning to attend at least one LIS Conference in the next year. Let me explain through my experience.

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