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!

Finding opportunities to advocate for libraries, information and what we do

The list of podcasts I listen to is a mixed bag of comedy, history, self-improvement, libraries, communication, conversations but here’s what I think is missing from many podcasts and online discussions.

Library people talking about what we do, who we support, how we are a vital asset to universities, cities, towns, hospitals, businesses, government, communities . . . you know what I’m talking about (and if you don’t hi! let’s talk libraries and information!)

Today I listened to episode 42 of Reasons to Be Cheerful with Ed Miliband and Geoff Lloyd on “tech for good”. Take a look at these statements and words I scribbled down whilst listening to this episode:

Take the lead of the people in your community, they know what they need.

Ordinary people deploying technology together.

Working with citizens and technology.

Connectivity.

Demystifying technology.

Give tools to people to allow them to have a stake in their world.

Community-led civic policy making.

Sound familiar? They are either:

What libraries already do like demystifying technology and working with citizens and technology.

and

Programs and networks that we should be involved in like community-led civic policy making.

The episode about tech for good took a quick dive into smart cities, Red Hook mesh network, the Barcelona Digital City plan and The Bristol Approach – all people led projects that use technology to create change and strengthen communities.

As soon as one of the guests mentioned access to free internet, I thought libraries and hoped they would be mentioned but they weren’t, but WHY NOT?

So my question is: where are the library people being interviewed on podcasts and sharing knowledge in online groups and discussions?

When people are pushing for action in a community (I’m not just talking public libraries here) libraries need to be right in the thick of it, our spaces and people can be staging posts for smart cities, citizen-led projects, deploying technology for communities. We can provide:

  • internet access
  • resources
  • space to meet, plot and plan
  • training
  • support
  • networks to find more supporters
  • enthusiasm!

Talking to these groups, finding non-users who don’t know what libraries offer, we can reach these people via podcasts. We just need to get ourselves on the podcasts – but how?

I’ve been pondering how to do more advocacy outside of the library world:

If you listen to a podcast and find yourself thinking “a librarian needs to be on this show”, contact the podcast and suggest it.

Suggest libraries, library people and what we do in online groups and chats. I’ve started chiming in with “you can borrow that book for free at your local library!” and “why don’t you speak to your library about space for your event” and “a librarian would be a great guest on our podcast” etc whenever I see an opportunity. Sometimes I’m ignored, but sometimes it starts a great conversation and if it puts libraries and information organisations to the front of someone’s mind, I’m happy!

In the words of Glòria Pérez-Salmerón, IFLA President,  “you can all be influencers” so join me and start influencing where you see an opportunity!

 

 

The post conference thud

APLIC finished a few weeks ago but I’m just coming out of the other side of “post conference thud”. That feeling of spending several days absorbing new ideas and trying to connect them to your work as well as save them for future reference, talking until you lose your voice, meeting new people, re-connecting with friends and colleagues, not sleeping very well due to being totally wired and awake until the wee hours of the morning and the exhaustion that goes with being “on” for a week.

THUD.

And then you return home and go back to work and spend the first week post-conference picking up all the threads, restarting conversations and projects, finding where all the socks went at home and who is enrolling in what electives for next year and finding your “non-conference life” groove again.

THUD.

A couple of weeks after APLIC I was more exhausted and mentally wrung out. The thud became complete overwhelm and I was full of doubt – did I really do a “good job” at the conference? Was I useful as a state manager? Did I connect with enough people? Did people who complimented on the podcast really mean it? Did I go to the right sessions? Yes. I spiralled. Exhaustion rolls out the welcome mat for these thoughts – every single time.

At least I recognised how being tired + negative had joined forces and that what I really needed to do was give myself a big pat on the back and a large exuberant high five. But how?

Ask Twitter of course…

And as always, the answers were generous and kind:

And this reply from Lyndelle helped me to feel less alone with these thoughts.

So what now? I listened to all this advice and felt really motivated to make the ones that appealed to me actually happen. I made a ta-da list, and an achievement board, scheduled quiet time, spoke to friends who make me feel good, spent time with family doing things we love and took some time away from screens and everything online. I’ve also read a bit more than usual and spent more time outside. These are all things I know I should do, but they end up at the bottom of the list when the THUD happens. It’s a work in progress and each time I hit that low bit, I get a bit better at taking action and recognising the signs.

What do you do when you’re overwhelmed? How do you cope with the post-conference thud? I’d love to hear what you do.

Time travel

I’m still decompressing from NLS8 and trying to gather my reflections into something more coherent than a long rambling sentence without any punctuation, so Kathryn’s writing prompt is just what I needed to do a spot of writing. The questions are:

  • If you could go back and tell your 20 year old self one thing that was going to happen to you between then and today, what would that be?
  • In 20 years time (presuming the world gets better, not worse) what do you think will be the biggest technological difference between your life now and your life then ?

Well my 20 year old self was a red hot sweaty mess. So I would tell them that life will change, it won’t be easy, and it will also be spectacular. As a 20 year old I was so unprepared and unable to cope with the demands of life. I was working, renting, in a relationship, but my mental health wasn’t great and I didn’t know. I just thought life was really really really hard all the time. It would be tempting to give myself a heads up on what lies ahead, but you know, I wouldn’t. Because life has been all those things I just wrote, but they got me to here. All the twists and turns and unexpected friendships, moves, jobs, sadness, joys, frustrations… I love the person my life experiences have created.

Technology in 20 years time? I don’t think technology is going to change that much in the next 20 or so years. Maybe driverless cars? This isn’t something I think about much as it’s easier to marvel at where we have come from, rather than what is ahead, for me anyway. Wish I had a longer answer for this, maybe I should ask my children!