3 Lessons from Recent MLIS Grads

Career Blog

Published: October 28, 2016 by Kate M. Spaulding

Library Journal’s annual “Placements & Salaries” survey is out. Here are 3 takeaways to consider.

Library Journal has released its annual “Placements & Salaries” survey, and there’s a lot to comb through. First of all, I want to say that even though the title sounds academic (read: boring), the data and analysis actually has a lot of relevance to current MLIS students, and it’s worth a read.

You can read about the survey methods here, but, basically, Library Journal collected data from accredited library and science schools and students in the United States. Thirty-three of those schools sent LJ’s survey on to their 2015 graduates, and six (including SJSU) submitted data from their own assessments of their graduates. LJ reported a 29% response rate from 4,002 graduates of 39 schools.

This yearly data and analysis matters because it can help us students spot trends and opportunities, and it can also provide hard data for the all-important salary negotiation. Pro tip: look for your job title (and similar ones) and compare the numbers to what you earn or what you are offered and go from there! There is also salary information in our Career Environments pages.

In looking over this year’s “Placements & Salaries,” these particular points really jumped out at me (quote source):

  1. “Those who were looking for a position began the hunt about 5.5 months before graduation, and it took an average of 4.7 months after graduation to find a placement.” Yikes. I’m not sharing this to scare you, but to motivate you to start thinking about your career while still a student. Think about where you want to end up and how to get there.
  2. “A recurring theme for success was gaining practical experience to augment coursework and to help develop professional networks.” Folks, this is what we here in Career Development have been preaching all along! Jill Klees ran a Collaborate Workshop about this in April, my very first Career Blog post touted the skills you didn’t know you already had, Jill wrote about 10 ways to demonstrate you have leadership skills, and we have resources to help you target your job search. TL;DR – learn some mad skillz and market them!
  3. “One key message emerged: stepping outside their comfort zone can help LIS graduates find their best fit in the evolving library landscape.” We’ve talked about this, too – consider expanding your view of the LIS world. There are many opportunities outside of public, academic, and even special libraries. Options abound in marketing departments, tech companies and government, not to mention knowledge management, technical writing, UI design, research, and so much more.

I encourage you to read all of the report’s sections, which include Bouncing Back, Charting the Job Course, and Explore All the Data. You can also see the results from past years. Go investigate for yourself – I’d love to know what you find interesting, useful, or surprising, so I invite you to turn the comments into a discussion!

Photo courtesy Horia Varland under Creative Commons

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