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.
I don’t think I’m alone in having mixed feelings about my career direction. It’s not that I don’t want to earn my MLIS, and it’s not that I don’t want to work within the LIS world – it’s more that I had (what I thought were) firm plans when I entered the program, but the more options I learned about, the fuzzier that path got. Has that happened to you? I decided I should talk to Jill Klees about my concerns, and she replied with smart, confidence-inspiring answers that I am passing along to you.
My fellow students, the end is nigh. Of course, I’m referring to the end of the semester. The time for final projects and papers is upon us, which is good news because that means classes are almost over, buuut less good news because it means we have to stop procrastinating and actually do them.
If you’re lucky, you might have your choice of final assignments. For instance, you may be able to decide between writing a paper, recording a 5-minute presentation, or creating a packet of materials. When I took INFO 244, we could create a training packet, and a friend in INFO 287 developed marketing brochures.
This week, I asked Tamarack Hockin to talk a bit about the SRJ – Student Research Journal – for a couple of reasons. The first is that, as Editor-in-Chief, she’s currently recruiting editors to begin in January. The second is that I’m a copy editor on the editorial board, and I’ve found it to be an interesting and educational experience.
I began my tenure in July, along with several other newbies. Approximately every two weeks I receive a manuscript to review. Sometimes it’s the initial accept/reject step, and sometimes it’s a final edit before publication. As one of two copy editors, I correct grammar and APA mistakes, tackle clarity issues, and make suggestions to improve the style and readability (like different word choices and sentence rewrites).
It’s been fascinating to see how and what other students write about, and the SRJ training and eagle eye required for APA style have taught me a lot. Incidentally, I was a Peer Mentor for INFO 203 this fall, and the APA Module was an excellently-timed refresher for me. A big thanks to Vicki Steiner for being such a stickler!