Today, I'd like to introduce Christy Confetti Higgins, Cybrarian at Oracle and iSchool alumna. She was generous enough to respond to my questions (see? Informational interviewing at work!), and I'm really happy she did because her career and what she has to say are both super interesting. I'm encouraged by her skills list below, in part because we hone many of them in classes here, regardless of subject, while others we can purposely learn through courses, internships, or work experience.
Hi, Christy! Can you introduce yourself and tell us a little bit about what you do and how you got to this place in your career?
Hi, Kate. Thank you so much for the opportunity to share a bit about my career with students in the iSchool program. I went to University of California at Davis and then to San José State University for my MLIS (in 1999 – yikes!).
If you're familiar with the iSchool, then you're familiar with (at least) the name of Dr. Sandra Hirsh. She's our director, as well as a professor, writer and researcher. In her career, Dr. Hirsh has explored several branches of the LIS tree, and all of this experience made her a great fit for her current position. You can read more about how she juggles work and life over on the iStudent Blog, where she chronicled a day in her life. I'm so grateful she agreed to answer my questions, and I'm happy to share her thoughts about growing your networks, constantly educating yourself, and participating in professional associations. Thank you, Dr. Hirsh!
You spend a lot of time learning how to network, practicing your networking skills, and following-up with your new networking connections but how can you keep these connections alive over time? Great question! I get asked this question often and it is not as hard or as time consuming as you might think.
Now these aren’t tips you do with everyone in your network. That would be time consuming! These are tips you use with those people that you have a solid connection with and you wish to keep the connection alive.
1. Send a birthday or holiday greeting – get in the habit of keeping track of birthdays, holidays, or special dates for your connections. Add them to your calendar each year. When the special day rolls around, send an actual hand written card or personalized email message to make a statement or the use of LinkedIn and Facebook to send your well wishes works too.
Today I am pleased to present some words of wisdom from Dr. Sue Alman. As you will read, her career has covered a lot of ground! She is currently a full-time faculty member here at the iSchool, where she teaches four courses. If you're anything like me, you are probably most familiar with her name from seeing it on iSchool emails; she's the contact for those students needing real-time captioning or other accommodations at events like Career Webcasts.
It's so nice to be able to put a (virtual) voice to the name! Dr. Alman was gracious enough to respond to some questions from me, and I'm thrilled to share her thoughts about making the most of your career and planning for the future.
In the last year or so, my podcast listening has really taken off. I have found them to be wonderful companions on walks, while I do brainless tasks like laundry, or in the car when the radio lets me down. For those of you who may be unfamiliar with the term, a podcast is a digital audio file available to download or stream. They are typically presented in a series format through a mobile app, and users can subscribe to a podcast to automatically get new episodes. They vary in length, and if you have an interest, there’s a podcast about it.
I use the podcast app that came on my iPhone, but there are many others out there to choose from for both Android and iOS devices. My listening list includes podcasts that cover news, entertainment, food, finance, business, and, of course, librarianship. Librarians are generally great communicators and innovators, so it shouldn’t be a surprise to learn they have embraced this new(ish) medium.
If you’re new to the LIS world or you’re on the MARA side of things, you may not know (yet!) that public libraries are innovators. Particularly in the last 15 years or so, public and academic libraries have been reinventing themselves. They’re not just buildings filled with books anymore; they are vibrant, engaged, sometimes noisy spaces brimming with computers and technology, interesting programs, and whip-smart staff.
I had a hard time narrowing the list, but to give you a taste, here are just a few of the awesome and innovative programs in public libraries today:
Have you registered for the Library 2.0 conference that’s happening this week? Perhaps I should back up a bit – do you know about the free, virtual, Library 2.0 conference happening on October 6? If not, you should definitely check it out, as it’s a pretty amazing collection of events that the iSchool puts together for the LIS community each year.
For many of us, networking sounds terrible, not fun, icky, boring, an activity for “old people” (where “old” = whatever you think!), overrated, old-school, intimidating, awkward, anxiety-inducing, formal, and other less-than-optimal adjectives. But it doesn’t have to (and really, shouldn’t) be terrible, and it can be super-helpful for your career.
Networking can happen virtually and in-person, or even transition from virtual to Real Life. For instance, I’ve met lots of people here at the iSchool, and I’ve even connected with some of them on LinkedIn or Twitter. Doing so is a baby networking step.
Recently, an article about non-traditional library jobs came across my virtual desk: Librarians: Digital Marketing Needs Your Skills by Laurel Norris via CMSWire (which is now in my RSS feed, btw). What I think is interesting about it is that it reiterates what we here on the Career Blog have been talking about all along – that the skills you learn as a student can take you in any direction you’re interested in.
Norris makes the case that “if you have modern library skills like taxonomy development, web system management, data analytics, information architecture, and information literacy, you’re qualified to work in many marketing departments.” And she’s right.
To wrap up my series on professional organizations, today I'm sharing an interview with Kim Dority. You can find her on her blog, Infonista, and running the LinkedIn group she created, LIS Career Options. She's an LIS career expert and graciously agreed to share her wisdom with us.
Hi, Kim! Can you tell us a little bit about yourself and the perspective that you bring to this series about getting involved in professional organizations?
I’m an information professional who’s had the good fortune to be able to use my MLIS skill set in a lot of different career settings. Each of my gigs or projects has in some way been based on working with information, but often in ways that were way out of my comfort zone.
Because my career has been so eclectic, the expertise of others that I’ve been able to rely on through my professional associations has been critical to my success.