Student Heather Pena Lands Job at New England College of Optometry

SLIS student Heather Pena graduates in Spring 2011, but she already landed a job as Multimedia and Electronic Resources Specialist, a newly created position at the New England College of Optometry.

The Optometry College, located in downtown Boston, hired Pena to bridge its library and IT functions. Her primary job responsibilities include providing front-line desktop support for all computers, coordinating the day-to-day operation of the library’s electronic resources collection, and overseeing the school’s SFX link resolver that helps connect to online tools. In addition, Pena analyzes options for database access, creates statistical reports on the library’s electronic resources, manages trial programs, and provides instruction regarding emerging technologies. “Basically, I am the techie librarian,” she said.

Although Pena is close to earning her MLIS with only her e-portfolio to complete, she’s already had vast library experience, with nearly 10 years in the field. She started at Tufts University in 2001 as the Library Media Supervisor and recently worked as the Copy Cataloger/Collection Specialist and Projects Specialist at New England Law | Boston.

Her most memorable experience was working as an Operations Manager at the Optometry and Health Sciences Library at the University of California, Berkeley. The head librarian of Optometry and Health Sciences, Bette Anton, became a mentor to Pena and encouraged her to enroll in an MLIS program to further her career.

“UC Berkeley gave me the tools and opportunity to explore and be active in committees such as the Web Implementation Group, PC Experts Program, UC Berkeley Library Mentorship Program, and the Association of Vision Science Librarians,” said Pena, who still keeps in touch with her mentor Anton.

Pena, who graduated from Trinity College of Vermont in 1998 with a major in Philosophy and minor in Communications, worked as a restaurant general manager after earning her undergraduate degree and considered opening her own restaurant one day. But then she was introduced to the world of academia and knew it was where she belonged – though she wasn’t quite sure where she fit in. Librarianship turned out to be the answer.

Pena applied for the position at New England College of Optometry after hearing about it through a library job posting at the school. And, thanks to her tech savvy and library background through UC Berkeley and New England School of Law | Boston, she turned out to be the right fit and started just after Thanksgiving.