Why do you want to be a librarian?

Why do you want to be a librarian?

by Cassidy Charles, Senior Assistant, INALJ NYC


CassidyCharlesThe question comes up in graduate school orientation, conference happy hours, professional development workshops, and job interviews: Why do you want to be a librarian?

The answer can be as simple or complex as you want to make it. You could launch into an anecdote about an influential children’s librarian at your hometown library, or succinctly state that you enjoy information work. Perhaps you do not even want to be a librarian per say, but a data scientist or taxonomist. Giving this question some time to answer could make a difference with your job hunt, because the meaning behind the question is: why do you want to do this?

The Elevator Pitch and the Origin Story

Origin story refers to the back-story in comic books that reveals how a character or a team gained their powers and became who they are in the present. You are your own superhero in your job hunt story.

Elevator pitch is a brief summary that defines a profession, service, product, organization or event and accounts for the value it can bring if taken on. This pitch should last for about as long as it takes to ride an elevator – hence the name. Brevity and impact are just as significant job hunting and self-promotion as they are to pitching a product or service.

The introductory email, the cover letter and resume, and the follow-up thank you note or email are meant to give the strongest impression of  your skills, experience, passion, and goals in confined parameters that relate to a potential employers – they are your elevator pitch. Even a peek into your librarian origin story. Filling in the blank spaces of a solid resume template with your information is one thing, but that information also needs to be communicated and stand-out in an interview.

According to Ian Altman there are three parts to a good elevator pitch:

  • Entice – identify something that you have that they want.
  • Disarm – clarify that you are not “selling” something, but exploring a potential match.
  • Discover – trigger a moment where you learn about them.

These words and strategy can be used to strategically prepare for an interview. Alexis Rohlfing previously posted about elevating our online elevator speech. The same sentiment can be applied here with how you introduce yourself.

Do you want to be a librarian?

Every semester of graduate school I had at least one professor who made everyone in the class introduce ourselves and state what had brought them to library school. At the time I thought that practice was redundant, but it turned out to be helpful to me down the line. It pushed to me to think of what I was really doing in my MLIS program and continues to help my defines my career.

One last tip: The scariest but greatest thing about the LIS field is that it’s constantly changing and there is a lot that we can learn. Your career will evolve and so will your story.

I want to be a librarian because I like to help people.

Why do you want to be a librarian?

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