by Kathleen Kosiec
Diary of a Recent Grad
I only applied for about 10 positions over three months. After all, I was finishing my final semester at grad school. I tell myself after I turn in my last project, I will step it up. In the meantime, I need to finish an information architecture redesign of a website and submit an outreach plan for a small archive in the midwest. And try to get some sleep.
I start my summer reference internship. Our library draws a lot of genealogists, so I quickly learned the pitfalls of sites like ancestry.com and patience patience patience, especially with verbose patrons.
End of June
I create a website using a template on WordPress. I put up some grad school projects, and I faithfully blog every week, tweet, and network via LinkedIn.
I volunteer at a user experience design conference, and listen to a special collections librarian turned UX designer talk about UX on a panel. I get excited. This could be me in five years.
I also have streamlined my job application process. Early in the week I search for new jobs (first on INALJ of course!) and apply for jobs on my list. I have several template resumes and a document with some of the most required information like references and employment history, so I can focus more on my cover letter and less time digging for this other information.
I’ve grown to hate online applications so much it is perhaps unhealthy. (You want a resume and a cover letter and then you make me fill out an app that asked for the same info already my resume!!!!! GAWR!)
And now I have applied for so many jobs that I have a color-coded spreadsheet in Google docs. I’m looking at the “yellow” jobs now. Yellow means there is still a chance since I haven’t heard anything more than the automatic “thanks for applying” acknowledgement. Those jobs are are still up in the air, which means there is still a possibility someone will call me. I check my spreadsheet several times a week, noting when the position application date closed, and how long I should wait before following up. There is still hope, and hope is what I am clinging to now.
I’ve grown to dread seeing thin envelopes with the logo of a university or institution where I sent my resume several weeks earlier. Or emails with the name of the position in the subject heading. I glance at the letter or email for the usual keywords and phrases like “You will not move forward,” or “We appreciate the time you spent on your application,” and “We were impressed by the quality of applicants for this position.” All have the dreaded word, but. But you are not moving on. But we will not call you for an interview. But we weren’t impressed enough by your application. I immediately toss the letters in the trash or open up a new browser window if the bad news comes via email and try to convince myself there are still those other jobs in yellow I am waiting to hear back from, and try to brush it off.
Sometimes it’s easier for me to handle rejection. I knew they wanted three years of experience at an academic library, but I thought I would apply anyway. Or, I really didn’t want to move to (insert state here) anyway. But some are harder to shake. Especially the ones with “recent grads encouraged to apply” in the posting. I’m a recent grad! I have the degree! I have some experience from two internships, and you still don’t want me? Those hurt.
I would really like to end this with a happy ending, like tell you a small university recognized my potential, and offered me a job. However my story doesn’t have an end… yet. So I don’t know where my MLIS will take me.
What is that saying, that if you work hard enough, you will get what you want? I maintained a 3.9 GPA in grad school. I’m networking. I’m on LinkedIn and fill-in-the-blank social media. I have my lovely WordPress website up and running. I’m trying everything to get my foot in the door. I also work part-time at a bank and pick up extra hours when I can so I can squeeze in another internship over the summer and still pay my rent.
I know what you are going to say. Stay positive, right? I agree that it’s important to keep your mind off the job hunt and stay positive, as other authors have mentioned. You need to stay positive, even when you get a rejection email two days after you submit your resume. But it’s also healthy to acknowledge the difficulty of this process, especially for recent grads. As I’ve learned from INALJ, I am not alone. There are people like me all over the place searching for jobs, and the library network has been great for support, because everyone‘s been here, at least at one point.
After I trade rejection sob stories with a librarian in South Carolina, I know that when I wake up tomorrow, it’s back to my color-coded spreadsheet, back to the world of online applications. But I also need to think about the yellow sections in my spreadsheet, because they symbolize hope.
Kathleen Kosiec received her MLIS from University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee in 2013, and her Bachelor of Arts in Journalism from the University of Wisconsin. She is interested in user experience design, metadata, social media, and how technology is constantly changing libraries. When she is not applying for library jobs, looking for library jobs, or reading about how to get a library job, she likes to cook, practice yoga, blog, and watch Doctor Who. Visit Kathleen at kathleenkosiec.com.