10 career building tips for library students and new graduates

I recently spoke at an online careers evening, with two other library professionals. The central idea for my talk was “It’s Up To You” and I wasn’t surprised to hear the other speakers talk about taking control of their career post-study, reinforcing my theme perfectly! And I wasn’t surprised to hear that both speakers talk about seizing opportunities, making hard decisions around study, moving for work and joining special interest groups to network and learn.

Once you have graduated from your library course, the learning begins all over again. You might secure a role straight away and HELLO! time to learn all the things about your organisation and job. Or you may be job searching or learning how to maintain your enthusiasm and library knowledge whilst working in another industry. But how do you find the right people to connect with, find a mentor or learn more about the specific area of library/information you are interested in?

Before the information session started, I created a Google Doc to capture articles and links that would be useful for those attending, and of course I shared it on Twitter and the Turbitt & Duck Facebook group, with a request for my fellow library people:

The collaboration and knowledge sharing game is strong in the library and information world, so here are ten tips from the It’s Up To You Google Doc, Twitter discussion, information session and me!

  1. Join Twitter – it’s brilliant for following conferences from afar, connecting with people, finding resources and sharing knowledge.
  2. Brush up on your interview skills.
  3. Ask a colleague or friend to review your resume or use a resume review service. If it’s been a long time since you’ve updated this document, do it now.
  4. Join a special interest group. You will expand your networks and find opportunities very quickly!
  5. Be curious! Ask questions and read widely.
  6. Create networks. If you are happy to do this online, join Twitter, Facebook groups, participate in online chats. If face to face is your thing, find a local group or event or start one.
  7. Volunteer at GLAM events. You’ll meet people, hear from industry experts and flex your networking muscles.
  8. Professional development comes in many forms – articles, blog posts, YouTube videos, podcast episodes, hands on learning, books, online discussions  . . . get creative!
  9. Spend time learning about transferable skills and how to translate what you already have into library and information terms.
  10. Don’t expect your employer to provide opportunities for you. It’s up to you to develop the skills, attributes and knowledge you need.

The “It’s Up To You” doc will stay open to all, so if you have something to add, please do! And thank you to everyone who has contributed, let’s keep adding and sharing!

What I don’t want you to know about me

What started as an email to myself about the importance of being honest and talking about the beliefs I hold about myself turned into this post. Which then became several days of reading and contemplating imposter syndrome, comparison and everybody.

What I don’t want you to know about me (not an exhaustive list)

  • I’m not a specialist, I don’t want to write deep philosophical articles about data, culture, research techniques. (To those who do, thank you!).
  • My search skills are not what I think they should be and mostly pretty random. I can find what you need, it just won’t be very methodical or structured.
  • I worry all the time about not fitting in, being too loud, too extroverted, stress about how I’m not like that librarian over there, or that one there.
  • I worry about whether I bring anything useful or meaningful to Turbitt and Duck.
  • Some days I think I’m a failed librarian, an imposter, an upstart, that annoying person who thinks she knows about libraries but really doesn’t.
  • That because I’m new to the library profession, I shouldn’t have any opinions or anything to say. Because opinions are for legitimate librarians and I’m not legitimate. 

Here’s what I do know about me

  • I’m not a specialist, I can’t and don’t want to write deep philosophical articles about data, culture, research techniques. (To those who do, thank you!). I’m a generalist, and like to know about many topics and really don’t have any desire to deep dive into particular topics.
  • My search skills are not what I think they should be and mostly pretty random. I can find what you need, it just won’t be very methodical or structured. I am teaching myself to be a more systematic searcher and reach out to those I know are great at it to see what I can learn from them.
  • I worry about not fitting in, being too loud, too extroverted, stress about how I’m not like that librarian over there, or that one there. I also spend time being happy with being *this* particular librarian.
  • I worry about whether I bring anything useful for or meaningful to Turbitt and Duck. This is completely untrue and one from the deeper anxiety recesses of my brain. Clearly I bring excellent GIFs to the Turbitt and Duck world.
  • Some days I think I’m a failed librarian, an imposter, an upstart, that annoying person who thinks she knows about libraries but really doesn’t. Just because I am new to this profession, doesn’t mean I haven’t got anything to contribute. HELLO TRANSFERABLE SKILLS and KNOWLEDGE. This one is about acknowledging that fear and doing it anyway.
  • That because I’m new to the library profession, I shouldn’t have any opinions or anything to say. Because opinions are for legitimate librarians and I’m not legitimate. I will never feel legitimate, tertiary study was ‘supposed’ to make me feel that way and it didn’t. So after reading The Happiness Project and some deep discussions with friends, I’m letting myself be illegitimate!

Don’t let your “Everybody Committee” tell who you are and what you can and can’t do

Over the last two days I’ve listened to this episode of Don’t Keep Your Day Job with guest Martha Beck twice and was struck by the discussion about the ‘generalised other’ AKA The Everybody Committee.

To quote Martha:

Your generalized other is actually based on a mental magnification of just a few people, often the most judgmental people you know.

And:

So the brain takes about six people, blends them into a brew and calls them EVERYBODY. And we truly in our hearts believe that EVERYBODY wants or expects or thinks XYZ of us.

Oh. WOAH. Looking back at my original list, how many of them have I, at some point told myself is because “everybody” thinks so? All of them. Letting myself be guided by that mystical and unreliable blob of people isn’t how I want to live life. And it keeps that door open for imposter syndrome and comparison to walk right in, put their feet on the furniture, eat all the food in the fridge and heckle relentlessly.

Have a listen to that episode, read this article by Martha Beck about the Everybody Committee. Make your own list of things you don’t want to people to know about you. Split the page in half, left hand column is all the crap things you think about yourself, the right hand side, your counter arguments.

Close the door to imposter syndrome by sacking that committee and finding a new one.

Applications are now open for my new committee – applicants who supply GIFs and puns will be given preferred applicant status!