Earlier this week, I attended the Special Library Association’s 2017 annual conference in Phoenix. Although I researched extensively, I didn’t really know what to expect, other than very hot weather. I definitely had first-timer’s butterflies, which I dealt with by making detailed packing and pre-trip to-do lists and worrying about my wardrobe choices.
Now that I’ve survived my first professional conference and had a minute to reflect on the experience, here are my takeaways:
It’s (un)officially summer, which means conference season is warming up (or fiery hot). These days, in addition to weird acronyms and too many reusable bags, conferences also come with their very own Twitter hashtags. Some of you may be rolling your eyes at this point, but they actually can be useful. #trust
Let’s start with a few basics:
Last week, the iSchool hosted another Library 2.017 mini-conference; this time, the theme was “Digital Literacy + Fake News.” Perhaps I should back up a bit – do you know about the free, virtual, Library 2.0 conferences that happen throughout the year? If not, you should definitely check them out, as it’s a pretty amazing collection of events that the iSchool puts together for the LIS community.
I wasn’t able to attend live this time, but one of the great things about webinars and online conferences is that you can view the recordings at your leisure. I’ve started watching them, and, although this conference didn’t have a career development theme, I see a few ways it relates:
I’m in the MLIS program, and I am the first to admit that I don’t know a lot about the archives world. So I did some research (like we do), and reached out for help. Dr. Pat Franks is the iSchool’s program coordinator for the Master's degree in Archives and Records Administration (MARA). She kindly agreed to answer my questions about MARA career paths. Because she so thoroughly replied, I wanted to share her responses with you.
So, without any further ado, I present Dr. Pat Franks!
From your CV, it looks as though you've been in the archives world since completing your MA, but from a business perspective rather than a MARA/MLS perspective. What got you interested in records and archives?
My career trajectory has always revolved around 3 points of interest: business, education, and recordkeeping (comprised of archives and records management).
By now you may have read on these virtual pages that the iSchool’s 2017 Emerging Trends Report has been released. It’s full of interesting information, so I wanted to connect with the author. Laurel Brenner, a fellow iSchool student, collected and analyzed data during the spring semester. I posed a few questions, and I’m sharing her answers below. I hope you find them as insightful as I do!
What surprised you the most about your findings?
In spite of what we may hear from skeptical family members or the cynical internet, there are a lot of jobs available for information professionals. That wasn't so much a surprise as a reassuring finding.
While you may need to be creative in your job search or possibly be willing to relocate, there are jobs out there!
Also, in academic, special, AND public libraries everyone is expected to staff the reference desk as at least a part of their jobs - from entry level circulation staff to higher management positions!
Last week, I previewed the Emerging Trends Report and suggested three things to look forward to: skills language, language inspiration, and a list of tech skills. In the time since I wrote that post, the 2017 Report has been published, and (she says modestly) those three predictions were spot on. This year’s slides have a wealth of information and career tips; it’s very much worth your while to look through them.
Here are a few tidbits that really jumped out at me from the 2017 Emerging Career Trends Report:
Are you searching for a job or trying to work keywords into your resume and LinkedIn profile? Are you wondering where the job market and your education intersect? To help students and professionals navigate the ever-changing LIS landscape, the iSchool publishes an Emerging Career Trends report each year. During the spring semester, one iSchool student tackles this as an INFO 298 project and the new report is published soon after.
These annual reports are a goldmine. As we wait (with bated breath, I can only imagine) for the 2017 report, there are a few things to look forward to:
With conference season approaching, I thought it would be interesting to speak with some of the organizers. Many professional associations hold conferences annually, and I wanted to hear their arguments for why students should find the time, money, and energy to attend. Several were kind enough to reply to my emails! I’ve already written about AIIP, SCIP, SLA, and SAA.
Did you know the iSchool maintains an Internship Database? It does! There are virtual and on-site positions, as well as both paid and unpaid internships. You can search by city, organization type, keyword, and more; you also can save listings that intrigue you. The opportunities in the database have all be vetted by the school, so you can be confident that:
- It’s a real learning opportunity – you won’t be serving coffee or doing busywork.
- The organization hosting the internship has put some time and effort into creating the position – so they are investing in you.
- You can earn course credit toward your degree by completing one of these internships.
The database contains a wide variety of opportunities for both MLIS and MARA students. Here are the 10 most recently listed:
We’re almost to the end! Some of you are probably already done for the semester, while others still have a few days, so I thought this might be a good time for some alumni wisdom. You know, wise words to help us de-stress (that’s a real coping mechanism, right?).
The iSchool has a robust and enthusiastic alumni community, and many of its members have made themselves available to us through the Facebook group, Alumni Career Spotlights, and Community Profiles. Library and archives people are naturally helpful, so they’re usually happy to answer questions and give students a hand.