Written by Sereen Suleiman
Edited by Gabrielle Bates and Lauren Kime
Talk the talk and walk the walk. A common phrase, but also the theme of the April 4th SLASC event hosted by Special Library Association (SLA) leader, Deb Hunt. During her speech, Hunt offered wonderful advice to the attendees about job hunting and seeking opportunities in the library and information science (LIS) field.
First and foremost, she expressed how we must be willing to go outside our comfort zone. Now that does not mean jump into everything all at once! You can start small and go big. Start by asking what is your ultimate goal, what is your dream job, and where do you envision yourself in the near future. From there, form a strategic plan with mini goals to achieve your ultimate goal.
Currently having a job relevant to your career goals while simultaneously attending classes is a solid way to start off. Of course, not everyone is capable of doing full-time jobs and being a student at the same time. In fact, this year, many professors including our very own director, Dr. Cheryl Dee, have noted how students this year are unable to fulfill their academic obligations due to work and personal commitments. Fortunately, Hunt describes numerous opportunities for students to be proactive in the LIS community including:
- Being involved in professional associations. Join organizations, such as the SLA, the American Library Association (ALA), the Society of American Archivists (SAA), and the California Library Association (CLA). SLA Student membership is only $10 (though it may be subject to change due to inflation in the future). Seek volunteer opportunities in those associations when you can, as they are transferable on your resume and allow you to make connections with professionals. More significantly, joining executive committees for chapter clubs of these organizations–SLASC, SAASC, ALASC, ASIS&T, REFORMA–are excellent ways of getting involved.
- Network with people. LinkedIn and professional associations are not the only ways of connecting with others, though membership to associations offer discounts to conferences, a primary method of networking. You can reach out to librarians in your area, reach out to people in your community, and even email the SJSU professors for advice.
- Keep educating yourself. If you ever come across free events or educational seminars (virtual or in-person) that interest you, go for them! Librarians and information science professionals are generally required to do continuing education, even after they earn their Master’s degrees. Pursuing continuing education while in the Master’s program at SJSU offers supplemental training and learning experience.
- Be open minded. There are endless possibilities students can pursue with a Master in Library and Information Science (MLIS) degree. You don’t have to exclusively be a librarian. For those who visit the INALJ website when job searching, Hunt highly recommended in the event to search the list of keywords on the website. These keywords regard suggestions for all the places you may or may not have ever given much thought about initially. You can be an archivist, work in government, pursue digital asset management, catalog information, become a taxonomist…doors are wide open for career routes in library science.
However, the first step starts with you. Decide your destination, but do not be narrow minded. Most importantly, do not shut yourself off from everyone. You must get out there, market yourself, and show everyone what you are capable of! Sure, it is easier said than done, but as Hunt said, “Shout from the rooftops!” We cannot always remain in our comfort zone and simply talk the talk. We need to walk the walk.