Are you just starting INFO 203? Welcome to the iSchool and the Career Blog! Not as new as that? You’re just as welcome! In the spirit of resolutions and new beginnings, I asked some recent graduates to share their wisdom and advice for new students, but what’s below is 100% applicable to all of us in the program.
Bethany just graduated in December (yay!), and I know her because we were both Peer Mentors for INFO 203 this past fall. Coincidentally, besides our time here at SJSU, we unknowingly overlapped as undergraduates at Indiana University. Small world! Easy networking in action.
First, could you tell me a little bit about yourself?
Last month, I came across an interesting post on the Getty’s blog by iSchool alumna Tia Woodruff. She is the Manager of Acquisitions at the Research Library there, and she “supervise[s] six dedicated colleagues responsible for acquiring library materials to expand this advanced research library collection in all formats and languages, and to serve the needs of our readers, scholars, and staff.”
Woodruff also manages the acquisitions budget and establishes relationships with vendors all over the world. She and her team acquire and process about 2,000 items each month for the Research Library, as well as “materials for the Getty Conservation Institute, the Getty Villa, and the smaller Getty hand libraries, such as those in the Museum and the Department of Photographs.”
From where I sit, 2016 feels like a pretty big year. For my last birthday, one of my best friends sent me Shonda Rhimes’ Year of Yes. And while I can’t claim to have had the kind of year she chronicled, and I certainly didn’t always say “yes,” I did say it a lot.
I said “yes” to full course loads of interesting subjects, and I didn’t always choose the easy or predictable final project. I started writing for this blog – my first LIS job! – and started to learn what it’s like to work virtually and as a writer (spoiler: it’s awesome. I love it.). I also stepped out of my online bubble and met some friendly classmates in person, which I might not have done in the past.
During a planning meeting for this blog’s December content calendar, I wondered aloud whether having a LinkedIn page was enough or if I also needed a personal website. I didn’t know the answer or even have a feeling one way or the other. My boss didn’t know either. And so, this post was born, and I started Googling.
As recently as last week, I was still on the fence. In fact, I wrote, “For most people, a robust LinkedIn page is enough. But if you are interested in demonstrating web skills or if you’re taking a more entrepreneurial approach to your career, then you may want to create a personal website.”
Welp, cue the sad trombone: I’ve changed my mind. In fact, I think it’s vital to have a personal website, no matter your career goals. Once you set it up, you don’t have to spend a lot of time on it or update it often and you don’t have to make it fancy, though you can absolutely do all of those things. You also don’t have to incorporate a blog, but of course you can. Basically, I advocate designing whatever kind of website gets you to have a website.
Although I did not mention it in my last post – a career to-do list for winter break – today’s suggestion fits right in with those tasks: create your own signature project. If you are now a) staring somewhat blankly at the screen or b) wondering why I would suggest something that sounds suspiciously like volunteer homework, hear (read) me out.
The idea of a signature project is that you – yes, in all your free time – complete a project so that you will have it as an accomplishment to point to when you are job hunting. In addition to the final product(s), doing so will demonstrate that you have good ideas and can take the initiative, organize, execute, and produce results. From a personal perspective, you can feel what it’s like to act as a Project Manager and see if you like that role.
Are you graduating in May? Congratulations, that’s exciting and awesome! And a little bit terrifying, I’m guessing? To help you prepare, I’ve put together a list of tasks for you to work through.
These ideas are ways to set yourself up for career success, and since we’ve got about six weeks off – and you can’t spend every second reading – it’s a great time to organize yourself and get your ground game going. If you’re not graduating in May, you can and should still use this list to start preparing for a career. Dr. Margaret Carroll tells her students, “You don’t become a library professional the day you start your first job; you become a professional the day you start your first class” – so we should absolutely be working on our career while in school.
Dr. Michael Stephens’ most recent book, The Heart of Librarianship, is best read like a book of short stories – slowly and piece by piece. It’s a collection of the “Office Hours” columns he writes for Library Journal. And although Stephens has done a good job of weaving them together, you really should give yourself some breathing room between sections. A good approach might be to read a bit with your morning cuppa, for example.
Obviously, I am a student, and I think this book has value for me and my peers, but I also think it will have value for LIS professionals who have been a part of the profession for years or decades. Professor Stephens’ underlying theme might be best summed up in his own words:
“I’d argue for two vital traits that will serve librarians well throughout their careers. Longtime librarians, mid-career folks, new hires, and students, I’m talking to you! The traits are simple yet pack a powerful punch: curiosity and creativity.” (p. 34).
Classes are wrapping up, and we have about 6 weeks of academic freedom (classes resume January 26). That’s a lot of time! Last year I definitely got antsy, but this year I want to make a plan. Because six weeks? That’s a lot of opportunities to catch up on your non-required reading (also, napping). Next week I’ll give you some ideas of career-boosting activities, but I wanted to start off a little more gently to help you ease into the break.
If you’re anything like me, you have some articles saved in your RSS feed, or newsletters “marked as unread” in your inbox, or 12 open tabs in your browser just waiting for a moment of your time. That time is now (and the next few weeks). So please be kind as I admit that I haven’t read all of these! I also welcome your additions in the comments!
About two weeks ago, I attended a presentation by Tracy Z. Maleeff put on by the iSchool Student Chapter of the Special Libraries Association (SLASC). In her talk, titled “Sharpening Career and Networking Skills for Fun and Profit,” Tracy covered a lot of ground. In past semesters, she’s spoken about the nuts and bolts of networking, but this time she focused more on communication and the introspective aspects of career building.
Today on the Career Blog, I am sharing an interview with Jean Bedord, an iSchool faculty member and an independent information professional. She's had a really interesting career, and she graciously took time in her busy schedule to answer some questions and pass along a lot of very practical career advice. Thank you, Jean!
Hi! Can you introduce yourself and tell us a little bit about what you do and how you got to this place in your career?
My name is Jean Bedord. I’m currently a content consultant and part-time instructor at the iSchool. Although I primarily teach INFO 244 Online Searching, I have also taught INFO 200 Information Communities.