Don’t play it safe
Sometimes I wish I could go back in time and change the choices I made while earning my master’s degree at SLIS. I am nearly done with the MLIS program but in all honesty I played it safe. I had fun and I learned a great deal, don’t get me wrong, but for the most part I took classes that felt comfortable. All of my classes were enjoyable, but I didn’t choose enough classes that took me beyond the realm of the information profession I already knew as a public library employee. I didn’t take enough time to explore all of the possibilities that SLIS offered me.
So I may be taking the tone of your weathered and wise grandmother but I wish someone would have done the same for me. It might be clichéd, it might be trite, but really take the time to look around before you commit to any particular career direction.
Besides looking at all of the different classes offered at SLIS, check out the career development resources as well. Not only do these resources help with resumes, networking, and interviewing (all of which will be helpful later!) but there is also a career direction section which could help you find your niche. Some directed self-reflection might be in order.
But I also recommend checking out the SJSU SLIS Colloquium Series. These are free webinars that you can listen to live, or later as a recording, which cover a broad range of topics for information professionals. Some focus on careers and job seeking. Others focus on hot topics or professional development. Either way, keeping the colloquia series on your radar can truly help you find out more about this vast environment of information and libraries.
Just recently I listened to “Cracking the Myth on Law Librarianship.” I know very little about working in a law library and thought, “Why not?” Right away the two presenters, Liana Juliano and Camille Reynolds, told their audience that you don’t have to have a law degree to work as a law librarian. I had no idea! They ventured further into details about classes they recommend taking, skills they recommend having, and how to eventually look for jobs outside of a typical library setting. As they mentioned again and again, “a ‘library degree’ doesn’t mean you have to work at a library.”
Which brings me back to my original point. Don’t put blinders on so early in your school career. I did and in some ways I regret that decision. I am very well prepared to be a children’s librarian now, since that is the track I chose to steer myself down, but I could have chosen a wider range of electives during these last three and a half years. So, consider dabbling in many different areas to make yourself well rounded. Or find that unique niche to burrow into. But make a commitment to check out all of the possibilities first. You’ll thank yourself later.
Additional pages to peruse: