Recently I had an opportunity to connect with Kelly Kowatch, Assistant Director of the University of Michigan’s School of Information Career Development Office. Kelly is also one of the co-authors, along with Judy Lawson and Joanna Kroll, of the excellent The New Information Professional: Your Guide to Careers in the Digital Age (Neal-Schuman, 2010).
I asked Kelly to do a bit of “virtual career coaching” for students by providing some practical advice on how to make the most of a program’s career services.
Thanks to a recommendation from Ge Ge at Variegated Stacks, I recently checked out a really interesting blog called Hack Library School, an online resource “by, for and about library school students.” It’s the brainchild of Micah Vandegrift, a soon-to-graduate LIS student at Florida State University, and is based on the following ideas:
Soon-to-be-grads are starting to look for jobs, and many who’d targeted public or academic jobs are finding few opportunities. They are, however, finding other jobs that could make use of their skills. If they take these non-traditional-library jobs, will they damage their ability to land future jobs in traditional libraries should those jobs open up?
One has only to participate in a few LIS discussion lists or online groups, hang out at a professional conference or two, or read some of the many LIS blogs and their comments to realize that the library profession is in the midst of extensive and somewhat discouraging change.
Although the long-promised “graying of the profession” is in fact underway, the equally long-awaited results – thousands of professional-level jobs opening up and tons of great, entry-level opportunities for new grads – are simply not happening. Nor are they likely ever to do so again.
Grad school is not only an opportunity for you to develop your LIS skills and expertise, it’s also an opportunity for you to build a professional platform that will help launch you into a career that’s rewarding both personally and financially.
The following tactics will help you jumpstart your career:
1. Set your personal career growth agenda. Focus on growth, not grades, because your ability to grow professionally (that means stretching beyond your comfort zone, trying new challenges, recovering from failures and moving on to successes) lasts a lot longer – and will do you more good – than an A in cataloging.