In my information literacy class (LIBR 287), one of my classmates posted this on a discussion board: “I was able to attend the ALA annual conference over the weekend and met a classmate from last semester. That was pretty exciting, but a rare experience.” After I read this, I looked through the pile of business cards that I collected at the conference, and hers was in my pile! It turns out that she has my business card too. My picture on our class D2L site did not jog her memory, but when she looked at my card and saw that I am in New Mexico, she remembered me and our conversation. I have zero recollection of meeting her, but if I had to guess, I would say it was either at the SLIS booth in the exhibit hall or at the SLIS reception.
She and I met, exchanged cards, and didn’t even realize at the time that we are current classmates. As far as specifically practicing professional socialization and networking, I think I still need to work on the final E: engage. It is not enough to just exchange business cards; I need to engage in more conversation to make connections with the people I am meeting. How frustrating that I failed in the area of making enough conversation with this classmate to even realize that we are classmates.
I attended a presentation called How to Be Successful When Searching for Academic Library Positions: An Insider’s Perspective, by Brian Keith, Assistant Dean, University of Florida. I like to attend job hunting workshops to find out if I am on the right track or not, and for the most part, it seems that I am. Some useful advice included the following:
- Communicate why the job makes sense for you.
- Look for opportunities in your current job or in ALA that will demonstrate your engagement, enthusiasm, and leadership skills.
- Presentations made as a part of an interview are heavily weighted and heavily attended.
- How you interact with the staff will be considered.
- Explain why you chose each reference with a statement such as: “Ms. Smith can speak to my experience with project management.”
- If you are applying to a land grant institution, know what a land grant institution is.
An interesting bit of information was that UF will hire someone whose MLIS degree is in progress with the provision that it be finished within a year. I felt this was good to know because I am close enough to start thinking seriously about applying for positions. However, one of my professors thinks it’s still too soon for me to be seriously hunting for an academic position. I will be finished May 2012. Sometimes it feels like a long way’s away; sometimes it feels like it is coming soon.
The presenter highly recommended the SJSU SLIS and career center sites which was really good to hear. I have looked at other library school’s websites, and I agree that SLIS’s site is excellent. I have wondered if I like it because I am familiar with it, but I don’t really think so. I like it because it’s outstanding.
I was able to get a resume review appointment but not a career counseling appointment. It seems like my resume is pretty good. We discussed whether I should have a CV instead of a resume (perhaps not yet because at this point my CV would look just like a resume). We also discussed whether I should put my education before or after my experience (keep education at the top of the resume until I get a librarian position).
I was hoping for a career counseling appointment to discuss a specific question about a position I recently applied for. I am currently a library services associate at a community college library with 52,000 books, and I supervise six people. I interviewed for a head librarian position at a public library with 14,000 books and one part-time employee to supervise. So my question is: Is that a move up or not? My current job is at a bigger library, supervising more people, but with a narrower area of responsibility. The position I interviewed for has a better job title, with a broader scope of responsibilities, and pays more money, but is a smaller library with a smaller staff. A more general question I wanted to ask the career counselor was about switching types of library. If I really want to work at an academic library, is it a bad idea career-wise to take a position at a public library?
I enjoyed the SLIS reception, and I met many different people, most of whom did not have business cards. Why did so few people have business cards? There could be several possible reasons. Companies aren’t providing them for their employees due to budget cuts. People forget to have their cards with them. People don’t enjoy networking or don’t believe it’s effective. I think that the more you network, the more likely it is that you will benefit from it. A person who doesn’t like to network might try it a few times with no obvious results, and then conclude, “I knew it! Networking is a waste of time. I’d rather curl up on the couch and read a book.” If that same person were lucky enough to get a really positive result in the first couple times trying it, she might become a real believer in networking. This is basic human nature. Try something unpleasant (assuming you don’t like networking), get a negative or neutral result, don’t try it again.
It immediately became clear that I didn’t have enough business cards with me today, and I was distracted by my thoughts about what I should do about it. I decided business cards were important enough to go back to my hotel room during lunch to get them.
I prefer a less formal tribal speech. Being overly formal makes a person less approachable. This seems to apply to clothing too. I am often the best-dressed person at my library, and I think it makes me stick out as the city girl who doesn’t fit in (my clothing combined with the fact that I grew up in a very different world than Gallup, NM).
I volunteered at the SLIS booth as a “real-live current student” to answer questions about the program. I found, however, that most people who came to the booth were current or past SLIS students. Only one prospective student came to the booth, and he wanted to know about the PhD program. I would have to say that a booth at the exhibit hall is not an effective recruiting tool. But does SLIS really need to recruit more students?