So I’ve graduated library school… Now what?

Angie Solis, Head Editor, INALJ Missouri 

So I’ve graduated library school… Now what?

AngieSolisAs I write this on the eve of my graduation from library school I find myself caught up in feelings of joy, fear, worry, happiness and relief. The feelings of elation come from the fact that I can stand up and proudly announce: “I have a Master’s degree!” But these feelings of happiness are quickly cast into a deep dark hole as soon as I think about my impending future. Can I get a job? How long will it take? Am I good enough? These feelings of doubt have definitely weighed heavily on my mind as I’m sure they have with other future professionals, but I’ve found some helpful hints on getting past the doubt and moving on with the rest of your life (and career).

First things first, tell the world about your accomplishment. Updating your resume and social networking sites like LinkedIn will let the world know you have an education and you’re ready to use it. And, it will help you be prepared in the event that the job of your dreams (or a good entry-level position) has just opened up in your area. If you need help with your resume show it to family, friends, co-workers, school contacts and even strangers; a fresh pair of eyes can make all the difference. Also, brush up on your cover letter skills. Knowing how to write a good cover letter will come in very handy during your job search and can help you stand out from the pack. I keep a template on file and adjust it for the specific job I am applying for.

When I asked other professionals for advice on what to do next, the top tip I received was to BE PATIENT! It make take some time to find a job after graduation so getting discouraged early on could hinder your chances of find a job later on. While looking for a job get involved in the LIS community. Join local associations and attend meetings and conferences. Volunteer to get job experience and learn more about the profession. I found that getting involved in has been an amazing experience. Not only do I use the site to look for jobs but I have found smart advice, support, experience and networking opportunities that have been so useful in this journey. Volunteering at your local library is also an important step to gaining real life experience and meeting people who could help you get an “in” to the industry.

This brings me to networking. Finding ways to network and get involved in this field is your key to success! Volunteering, joining associations, attending conferences and getting involved are definitely ways to network. I saw a tip once that joining the ALA New Member Round Table (NMRT) mentor program was a possible start to meeting other professionals and finding guidance in your job search. Joining is pretty simple. All you have to do is go to the Membership Information and Services page at ALA. Once you log in click the button to Proceed to Make Changes on your account. The first page has options to join specialty divisions and the next page you can choose Round Table Memberships. Click the box for New Members (currently the membership fee is only $6.67). Go to the next page and add your payment information and you’re all done! When you join the mentoring program as a mentee you could be assigned a mentor to guide you into the profession. I’ve heard mixed reviews about this program, but nonetheless I’ve joined it and we’ll see how it helps in the future.

Keep learning! Looking for ways to continue your education will help you in the long run. Library Juice Academy is a highly recommend source for online professional development for librarians and may also help you to find out a field of librarianship that appeals to you. ALA also offers online learning and online courses to help with continued education of librarians.

Finally, don’t forget about you. Through the volunteering and the networking, the resume updating and the job searching, don’t forget to take a moment for yourself every once in a while. Learn to be confident in yourself and your abilities which will show when you meet other professionals. Clare from INALJ Idaho says to “Give yourself permission to take a rest if you need it. But no more than a month, a week or two is better. After that, even if you can’t find a job, volunteer or do something career related that gets you out of the house and meeting people. After a rest start doing a few “action” items like scheduling an informational interview, or even filling out a volunteer form to help you build momentum.”

So here’s to the future of all librarians. I’ll be sure to post updates as the job search progresses and I’d love to hear any tips you have for future librarians of the world. Be sure to post them in the comments or connect with me on Twitter.