Starting Your Job Search Early – Tips for Library School Students

by Emma Pinault, Head Editor, INALJ Delaware

Starting Your Job Search Early – Tips for Library School Students

Emma PinaultAs a library student, you’ve already got a lot on your mind, keeping up with your classes, and it can be easy – particularly around final exam week – to lose sight of larger end goals as you work to finish the next assignment and meet the most immediate deadline. You’re probably (hopefully) thinking about your future career when you pick your courses each semester, but once you’re halfway through a class it gets harder to think about anything but how much time it’s going to take to finish that paper that’s due in two days and whether you’re going to find any time to sleep. However, while it can seem tempting to put off the hard work of job searching until at least most of your other hard work of earning your degree is done, it’s important to think strategically and lay the groundwork for a successful job hunt early. Here are some suggestions to keep in mind:

1) Get to know your advisor. If you’ve met with your advisor to discuss which courses to take each semester, you’ve hopefully brought up your career aspirations and asked about what courses you can take to bring you closer to your goals. But don’t be afraid to send an email or set up a meeting to talk about career options even if it’s not time to register for classes.

2) Find a sympathetic professor and start a discussion. Maybe your academic advisor is too busy, or maybe their area of expertise is outside where you’re most interested in working. Look for another instructor who might be willing to have a conversation and offer advice – someone whose classes you’ve found particularly interesting and relevant, or someone with whom you’ve developed a rapport. Remember, some of your professors may be good future references!

3) Get to know the university librarians. These people are your future colleagues, and can be a wonderful source of advice. If you have any interest in working in an academic library setting, these people should be your best friends! If you’re taking classes online, reach out by email and see if anyone at your school’s library is willing to have a conversation.

4) Find out what career guidance your school offers. Many universities have a dedicated career resources office, tasked with assisting students (and sometimes alumni) with finding jobs. Reach out to these people early – make sure they know your name and what you’re interested in, and make sure you know what services they offer. It always helps to have another set of eyes to look over your resume. You might also be able to get advice and tips for interviewing, or even a mock interview for practice. Also, some schools offer career services for alumni – it’s a good idea to find out early whether you can still get help for your job hunt after you graduate, and for how long.

When it’s two AM and you have two projects to finish in the next day and a half, it can be hard to think ahead far enough to plan a job search. And you don’t want to fall behind on your coursework. But once those two projects are done, make a plan. Get some sleep, make yourself some coffee or tea or other hot beverage of choice, and figure out how to work career planning into your school schedule. Once you’re getting ready to graduate, you’ll be glad you did.