Professional Development: Doing it on your own

by Erica Calvert

Professional Development: Doing it on your own

Whether you are a novice into a degreed-field job hunt or are a veteran of the discipline, securing a job can be a daunting feat. Luckily there is a plethora of resources, organizations and websites that are dedicated to helping jobseekers. With this support system we find ourselves on a path to cultivate an environment conducive to securing our dream job.

We find and are ready to apply to a professional job for which we feel well qualified. We have scoured the internet for tips on interview questions, protocol and etiquette. We can find online help for formatting, editing and polishing resumes and cover letters. But sometimes those resumes may be a bit deflated, when in a paraprofessional position or entry level job it can be hard keeping your resume up to snuff for a larger position, as funding and opportunities for professional development are not usually in place. And day to day duties and interactions may not be giving you specific experience that a professional position calls for.

But what’s next?

We always hope to be moving in a forward trajectory, in our careers. Even in jobs that we do exceptionally well at, and that we love; there is always room to grow and challenge ourselves, to find new resources and methods of production. And this is when we may begin cultivating a new environment – an environment of development. How do we find continuing education, professional and personal development resources?

This is something that I have struggled with over the years. Finding the time to perform tasks relating to development alongside regular work duties, home, errands and extracurricular activities. It is very important to recognize the need and worth of professional and personal development. But what resources are available? If your institution does not offer suggestions or membership enrollment in professional organizations. What else is available? How do you know what a good development venture looks like? How much will this cost me and to what advantage?

This is something that I longed to have an answer for, thus, I set out on a search for advice and I have created a list of my results. The list includes lower/no cost and also more expensive avenues.

  1. Professional Organizations– being a member of a professional organization can open doors to other programs to participate in such as presentations, panel discussions, publishing, seminars, certificates and more.
  2. Volunteering on a Committee– Volunteer to be on a committee relating to your field of work or having to do with community involvement. This also may provide you with membership to community organizations or groups that could potentially have hidden opportunities for development.
  3. Online Education– Non-degree procurement education sites can help you gain specific skills, continuing education credits or certificates.
  4. Volunteering as an Editor–  Volunteering to be on an editorial board for a publication. The publication does not have to be of scholarly nature. If a publication is of interest to you and is in a field that you possess experience in don’t be afraid to volunteer.
  5. Volunteer as a Reviewer–  Volunteer to be a reviewer or writer for a blog or other type of open source publication. This should not cost anything.
  6. Contributor–  Apply to be a contributor to a scholarly publication.
  7. Read (yes)–  Read scholarly works pertaining to your position or the position that you wish to attain.
  8. Social Media Volunteer–  Volunteer to create or manage a social media account for an organization in your field. (with organization approval)
  9. Conferences–  Attend Conferences that relate to a professional or personal development goal of yours.
  10. ASK–  Be bold, ask if there are any collaboration or apprenticeship opportunities at your institution/corporation
  11. Local Library–  Volunteer to work on, or manage a special project or branch project in your community
  12. Proposals–  Propose a research topic for your desired field. Do your work and formulate a plan, to show that you are serious about the project. (this will have to be done on your own time)
  13. Get Involved–  Attend forums, workshops, webinars, and seminars.
  14. Tutorials–  View and complete relevant online tutorials that will teach you a useful skill.
  15. Online Groups–  Join Facebook, LinkedIn or other internet community groups related to your profession. This may provide opportunity for you to collaborate with colleagues and it may provide other resources for development and continuing education.

I hope this helps someone that might be in the same boat that I am in, just wanting to grow their knowledge of a desired field or perhaps even build up that CV.


Bio- Erica Calvert- I am a library professional who has dabbled in various library employment scenarios.  I have worked in a high school library as a volunteer, a K-6 library as a college student worker, I then found work in a Law Library, and after completing my MLIS I found myself at the helm of a Public Library; I am now in technical services at an Academic Library. Although I am now much closer to city living, I was raised in a rural area and I still find comfort in the view of a winding dirt road and the smell of fresh country air.

Naomi House

Naomi House, MLIS, is the founder and publisher of the popular webzine and jobs list (formerly I Need a Library Job) and former CMO (Chief Marketing Officer) of, a crowdfunding platform focused on African patrimony, heritage and cultural projects. INALJ was founded in October 2010 with the assistance of her fellow Rutgers classmate, Elizabeth Leonard. Its social media presence has grown to include Facebook (retired in 2016), Twitter and a LinkedIn group, in addition to the interviews, articles and jobs found on INALJ. INALJ has had over 21 Million page hits and helped many, many thousands of librarians find employment! Through grassroots marketing, word of mouth and a real focus on exploring unconventional resources for job leads, INALJ grew from a subscription base of 20 friends to a website with over 500,000 visits in one month. Naomi believes that well-sourced quantity is quality in this narrow job market and INALJ reflects this with many new jobs published daily. She has also written for the 2011, 2012 and 2013 LexisNexis Government Info Pro and many other publications in the past decade. She presents whenever she can, including serving on three panels at the American Library Association's Annual Conference in Las Vegas; as breakout presenter at OCLC EMEA in Cape Town, South Africa; as a keynote speaker at the Virginia Library Association annual meeting; at the National Press Club in Washington DC; McGill University in Montreal, Canada; the University of the Emirates, Dubai, MLIS program and the University of Hawaii at Manoa. Naomi was a Reference, Marketing and Acquisitions Librarian for a contractor at a federal library outside Washington, DC, and has been living and working in Budapest, Hungary and Western New York State. She spent years running her husband’s moving labor website, fixed and sold old houses and assisted her husband cooking delicious Pakistani food. She is preparing to re-enter the workforce and is job hunting. Her husband is now the co-editor of INALJ, a true support!  She has heard of spare time but hasn’t encountered it lately. She pronounces INALJ as eye-na-elle-jay.