by Kathleen Kosiec
previously published 11/8/13 & 6/30/14
Taking the TARDIS back to the Start of My MLIS Program
My fellow Doctor Who fans know the British sci-fi show celebrates its 50th anniversary this year. For those unfamiliar with the show, it’s about a time-traveling alien with a time machine that resembles an old telephone box called the TARDIS. So, if I were to travel back in time with the Doctor, where would I take that TARDIS? Back to 2011, when I started my MLIS program! Here is what I would change to increase my chances of finding a library job:
Start an internship or volunteer ASAP.
I remember exhaling a sigh of relief when I turned in the last transcript, letter of recommendation, and non-refundable application fee. I focused on my full-time, non-library job until a few weeks before classes started. I remember thinking, “Yeah, school will start, and I will do an internship and I’ll be fine.” Nope! Yes, I was working full-time, but if I only started volunteering when I made the decision to get my MLIS, I would have a few more years of experience under my belt. My program only required a one semester internship, and although I volunteered at an archive for over a year, I wish I would have started volunteering much earlier. There’s only so much that textbooks and classroom discussion can teach you. Experience is really important!
Network, network, network!
I’m embarrassed to admit that I’ve only had my LinkedIn profile for about a year. Since I graduated in May, I stepped up my networking, joined groups on LinkedIn, and met with some library-types in my area. But again (see a theme here?) I should have started this WAY earlier. I did meet some people in my program, but I should have started networking when I first started my program. Join professional organizations like the American Library Association or another professional organization that fits your career path and start networking!
Create a website/digital portfolio before graduation, no excuses.
I cannot stress the importance enough of creating a website!!! There is only so much you can showcase in your resume and cover letter. Your personal website is the place for you to show off your projects and your personality without page constraints. Of course you can’t expect your potential employer to look at every page, but a few clicks can really show them who you are and what you have done professionally. I think what took me so long to get my website up was the fear that I wouldn’t have enough material for a site. It wasn’t until I had a conversation with some recent graduates about job hunting that I prioritized creating a site. When I was looking through my projects from my MLIS coursework, I realized I did have several projects I was really proud of that would work well for my website. Setting up the site ended up only taking a few hours, and I had a lot of fun creating content. It might seem intimidating, but there are a lot of resources and great software to help you.
I hope you can learn from my experiences. One thing that I definitely wouldn’t change is going back to school for my MLIS. When I’ve had the opportunity to use my knowledge and skills, I really enjoy the work and know that I made the right decision. Sometimes the job hunt makes me feel like little Amelia Pond waiting years for the Doctor to return, but just like the Doctor reappeared in his TARDIS, the right job will appear for me.
Kathleen Kosiec received her MLIS from the 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.