Behind the Research with Laurel Brenner

Career Blog

Published: June 2, 2017 by Kate M. Spaulding

By now you may have read on these virtual pages that the iSchool’s 2017 Emerging Trends Report has been released. It’s full of interesting information, so I wanted to connect with the author. Laurel Brenner, a fellow iSchool student, collected and analyzed data during the spring semester. I posed a few questions, and I’m sharing her answers below. I hope you find them as insightful as I do!

What surprised you the most about your findings?

In spite of what we may hear from skeptical family members or the cynical internet, there are a lot of jobs available for information professionals. That wasn’t so much a surprise as a reassuring finding.

While you may need to be creative in your job search or possibly be willing to relocate, there are jobs out there!
Also, in academic, special, AND public libraries everyone is expected to staff the reference desk as at least a part of their jobs – from entry level circulation staff to higher management positions!

Did you learn any new skills – or become more comfortable with any – by doing this project?

Gathering data points on 400 job listings means a giant spreadsheet! I definitely brushed up on some forgotten Excel skills and learned a few new ones. (Thank you YouTube!)  Some examples – in addition to creating drop-down choices for data entry, transposing columns/rows for better sorting/totaling, I learned how to format a few new chart styles.

Has this project made you approach or think about your own career differently?

This project made me feel a bit daunted (the reality of applying for jobs is a bit overwhelming!), but mostly I felt optimistic about my future career path. It also inspired me to take advantage of the incredible resources we have as iSchool students. From the skills we learn in class, to gaining experience through group projects and assignments, to joining student chapters of professional organizations, reading the iSchool’s career blog [editor’s note: I did NOT tell her to say that!], participating in webinars, or completing an internship. What’s available is pretty amazing.

Anything else you’d like to add?

I would encourage iSchool students to start looking at job postings “early and often” (like voting in Chicago). Getting comfortable with job searching before you are frantically trying to get hired will help you craft better-targeted resumes and cover letters.

My favorite job posting was one for a Digital Assets Coordinator for Hasbro’s Action Brands Entertainment Team, in which the final bullet of their “The ideal candidate excels at the following” list read “Sense of Fun – We make toys after all!”

Finally, I really enjoyed working with my supervisor on this project, Kim Dority. She’s amazing, and I’m so glad to have had the opportunity! [editor’s note: I wholeheartedly agree.]

Thank you, Laurel, for taking some time out of your summer to answer my questions!

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