My interview with success story Megan
Naomi: How did you find your current job?
Megan: While interning with a federal agency under the Student Temporary Employment Program (STEP) I was strongly encouraged to pursue the Presidential Management Fellowship Program ( http://pmf.gov), a leadership development program that recruits advanced degree candidates to the federal government. During the two-year appointment, fellows receive 160 hours of formal training, at least one 4-6 month developmental assignment, and the potential for accelerated promotions. While law, public administration and public policy degree holders are more common among the finalists, who has a stronger commitment to public service than a librarian?
In September 2010 I embarked on the lengthy, multi-stage application process: applicants submit an application through USAJobs, receive a nomination from their graduate program’s Nominating Office, complete an online assessment, and, if selected as a semi-finalist, an in-person assessment. In April 2011 finalists were invited to attend the PMF Job Fair in Washington, DC, and I received my appointment as an Electronic Services Librarian in May 2011.
Naomi: Favorite library you have been to?
Megan: Throughout high school I volunteered at Bainbridge Island Public Library (http://www.bainbridgepubliclibrary.org/). Located on Bainbridge Island, WA, a short ferry ride away from Seattle, WA, the library is surrounded by a beautiful Northwest-Japanese garden, which won the American Library Association’s Best Library Garden award in 2000. Inside, eclectic art, plentiful windows and modern architecture create the perfect space for a young bibliophile to wile away many a rainy day; while it would take another four years for me to realize I was destined to work in a library, the writing was on the wall.
Naomi: Favorite book?
Megan: In lieu of favorites (what if it got back to the fiction section?), three books I’ve recommended recently are John Green’s The Fault in our Stars, David Nichols’ One Day, and Ernest Hemingway’s A Moveable Feast.
Naomi: Favorite thing about libraries/ library technology?
Megan: My favorite thing about libraries and library technology is seeing how innovative other librarians, and non-librarians working in libraries, are in this period of rapid change. In March I attended the annual Computers in Libraries conference in Washington, DC, and loved that while each session centered on a challenge facing libraries, no two panelists or presenters overlapped in their solution; there are seemingly unlimited ways to mobilize your library website or connect with users in the virtual world.
Federal libraries face unique challenges, including security constraints, many levels of oversight, and notoriously slow change implementation. In light of these challenges, it is always interesting to compare notes with other federal librarians, from how to win over an IT department, to how to maximize online access for off-site or mobile users.
Naomi: Any websites or feeds or blogs we should be following?
Megan: If you are interested in pursuing a career in federal librarianship, I cannot recommend joining the Careers in Federal Libraries (CiFL) Google Group (http://groups.google.com/group/careers-in-federal-libraries) enough. Here a dedicated group of contributors identify relevant job and internship postings (both librarian positions in the 1410 series and non-library positions that closely align with the librarian’s skill set), and provides advice and guidance to anyone looking to join the ranks. CiFL also excels at putting together Careers in Federal Libraries panel events at library conferences and library school campuses, putting a public face to librarians who have successfully gained federal employment. Not a fan of Google Groups? CiFL job postings can be subscribed to via RSS feed, and you can find the group on Facebook (https://www.facebook.com/FederalLibrary) and Twitter (https://twitter.com/CareersFedLib).
Naomi: Best piece of job hunting advice?
Megan: Start early! If you are interested in a program with a formal application process, such as the Presidential Management Fellowship (PMF) Program or the NLM Associate Fellowship Program, begin researching eligibility requirements and application timelines immediately; many of these opportunities have precisely defined eligibility requirements, lengthy application processes, and narrow application windows. Taking the PMF Program as an example, to be eligible to apply for the PMF Class of 2012, applicants needed to meet all graduation requirements between September 1, 2011 and August 31, 2012, the application process extended from September 2011 – March 2012, and applications were only solicited September 15-25, 2012.
The short version: Librarian with a passion for tea, baking, NPR, and guilty-pleasure reads.
The long version: I am a new federal librarian, arriving here after graduating from the University of Virginia with a B.A. in Psychology and Cognitive Science, and the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill with an M.S. in Library Science. While still an undergraduate student I was selected for a new library internship in Washington, DC, predominately because of my employment history with a bookstore (true story!), and I never looked back. While pursuing my MSLS I served as a graduate research assistant with the UNC Davis Library Reference Department (where a wise humanities librarian once told me, “There is no such thing as a bibliographic emergency”) then as a graduate intern with the EPA-RTP Library. Having grown up in the Washington, DC metro area off-and-on growing up, I am happy to have returned for my current position, and enjoy exploring the museums, libraries and restaurants it has to offer – often with other librarians!