Tips to Staying Involved with SLIS after Graduation

by Lucy Bellamy
SJSU SLIS Class of 2007

I can’t believe that it’s been almost four years since I graduated from SJSU’s SLIS program! It really doesn’t seem like that much time has gone by. I have to say that staying connected to current students and alumni have made this transition invisible. Finding time to network while pursuing my degree was definitely a challenge; but joining the local student group was an important first step in establishing this important relationship. My student chapter, LISSTEN (Library Information Science Students Encourage Networking) offered several events which provided students with opportunities to network with one another as well as professionals established in their careers. It was at one such event where I was introduced to what would become my professional membership association, the Special Libraries Association (SLA). SLA, like other professional membership associations, offers a variety of events, professional and social, for students to network and be involved before, during, and after graduation. It’s easy to become overwhelmed while in the SLIS program, and often the thought of adding yet another commitment to an over-flowing plate of obligations can deter even the most focused student. However, I urge you to think of this opportunity as an investment in your future.

There is often little to no cost to join your student chapter and the return on investment is nothing less than invaluable. While attending the SLIS program in Fullerton, LISSTEN was active on my campus and provided both a low cost, low stress way to network and learn more about being a professional in my future career. It was through my involvement with my student chapter that I met working professionals and discovered which path I wanted to take following graduation. When graduation day approached, I worried about staying in touch with the people I had met throughout my time as a SLIS student; however, I soon discovered that there was no need to worry. The camaraderie of classmates along with the many contacts made while attending local events made the transition from student to professional seamless. Here are a few suggestions on how to stay involved with SLIS after graduation:

Staying in touch with classmates is a great way to stay informed about what’s happening in the dynamic field of information and librarianship. Our classmates go off and work in other library settings and can share their ideas and happenings that can inspire us in our own information settings.

Attending professional association events (workshops, webinars, happy hours, etc.) is a great way to meet others working in settings where you might have an interest or learn more about them. Use the time to introduce yourself and ask questions. Most are happy to share their experiences with others interested in learning more.

Volunteering through your professional association’s local chapter provides a great opportunity to meet professionals from a variety of fields and establish important connections which could later open doors for you in the future.

Become an active member in SJSU SLIS’s alumni association. The alumni association offers opportunities for graduates to remain involved with SLIS whether through events; connecting with current students, or writing articles for their quarterly newsletter.

Finding free time to spend on professional development continues to be a challenge after graduation; however, I have to say that when it comes to staying connected with classmates or the profession, there is no limit. Whatever option you choose, I encourage you to, as the saying goes, “just do it.”

Lucy is currently the head librarian at the Fashion Institute of Design & Merchandising in Los Angeles. Her library is a unique blend of “special” and “academic,” serving a diverse and unique population of students. Her interest is in developing instruction best practices that meet the information needs of this dynamic user group.