by Mary-Michelle Moore, Head Editor, INALJ Vermont
10 Takeaways from #SLA2013
With more than 200 programs and 2,800 attendees the Special Libraries Association recently finished up their annual conference. The 2013 conference occurred in San Diego, CA and included an unofficial INALJ meet up! If you are not yet involved in SLA, please consider it for the breadth of their mission, wonderful professional development opportunities and great network. Over the course of the weekend, I learned many interesting things, met some amazing people and put together the following helpful hints for INLAJ readers and future conference goers:
- A handy tidbit for writing cover letters: when writing your cover letter have the job description in front of you. When writing your letter address the job’s needs and how you meet them in the same order presented in the job description. Keep in mind, human resources and the people who arranged the job descriptions are the ones who are reading your cover letter. When you write your cover letter this way, they can easily check off the desirable traits they are looking for.
- Don’t be afraid of part-time or temporary positions, particularly if you are a recent graduate. If you can afford to take one of these positions, it’s a great way to get some experience and find out what you want out of a job before settling into a job for the long run. Short term jobs allow you to become adept at coming up to speed quickly in new situations; helps you develop a unique viewpoint for coming into new situations; and you will make many networking connections for future, more permanent job opportunities.
- Find a project that you want to work on – then start building your skill sets to match. This is great advice for jobs, participating in open source communities and other endeavors. Find something that you are interested in and passionate about and then start filling in gaps in your skill set to match your longer term plans.
- When you start moving materials online – from your resume to library materials; don’t just put the old information in the new format without adapting to the strengths of the new format. Try new things but know that each format has strengths and weaknesses. Adapt your digital story accordingly.
- Network whenever you can, talk to people at lunch, in the hallway, while waiting for a panel to start. Smile at someone you recognize from an earlier event, you never know who might know of a new job opening, or a new idea for you to take back to your employer that will make you the department hero.
- You can be a leader in your field no matter where your job title falls. Not all leaders have leadership positions. Just starting out? Lead from behind: learn new things, meet new people, start making connections to build relationships, share what you’ve learned when you return from conferences or from what you find online.
- Presenting is not as scary as it looks, if you have something interesting to share, answer a call for proposals. Good places to start are poster sessions or Speed Geek sessions. It’s a great way to get your name out in the community and you know you’ll have something to talk about when you need to start conversations at networking sessions.
- Have your business cards, contact information and social media up to date. I don’t often tweet in sessions but many people do and many conferences have a dedicated # for the day. People will often prefer to connect to you on Twitter, LinkedIn or Facebook if you hit it off at a conference.
- Take a spare shirt and a second pair of comfortable shoes. If you have a change of shirt or sweater, you probably will not spill something on it – if you do not you will definitely spill something. The second pair of shoes is in case of blisters, I took my most comfortable work shoes, not realizing just how much I was going to be walking; the second pair of shoes at least allowed me to distribute the blisters tolerably.
- Everyone at the conference, from the president of the organization to the person sitting beside you was once a first-time conference goer. Ask questions, it’s okay to be confused and everyone has been there before and everyone is more than willing to help out.