Today’s post comes from a member of our ILN community, Michelle De Aizpurua, who has recently graduated with her LIS qualification from Monash University in Melbourne, Australia.
After finishing my law degree and realising I didn’t want to practice, I was lucky enough to discover the library world. I completed a post-graduate diploma in Information & Knowledge Management (Library stream) at Monash University. This course was in the IT faculty and required a lot of high-tech work. They have recently changed the course, and I hope this means the subjects are more library and less IT oriented. We had to study all sorts of difficult (and seemingly unrelated) business and IT subjects such as ‘how corporations can leverage IT to gain greater profits and add value for customers in the business world’. We also had to create databases and do coding, yet never got to catalogue a book! I wish we’d learnt more cataloguing/practical skills and experienced what really being in a library was like! Sometimes I think an apprenticeship might have given me more of the practical skills I needed for my job. However, I did enjoy all the philosophical lessons discussing social impact, the libraries future, changes in the field and so on. And this broader knowledge has definitely come in handy too.
There are a few things I wish I had known as a student. Here’s my two most important tips:
- Try to be working first, before you study. Or try to get work experience while you are studying! Get practical skills and utilise your placement! Work experience is incredibly important. You can start in customer service or shelving to get your foot in the door and when you graduate you’ll have less trouble finding work. You can also ensure you really enjoy the work! Volunteer if you have to. Learn to catalogue, use LMS’s and recommend resources. Don’t have time? I focussed too much on getting the highest grades at the expense of getting more work experience. Find a balance, you don’t need straight HD’s (no one will ever look at your grades in job applications unfortunately!)
- NETWORK! I was told this many times, but I found it confronting making conversation with strangers and finding time was hard. Now that I have started networking it’s amazing the benefits you gain. You can get useful insights, knowledge, inspiration, mentoring and even job opportunities through networking. Join professional associations, especially student and new grad ones. Attend meet-ups. Get to know your professors – one of my professors became my first referee. They are knowledgeable and have many contacts. Get to know your fellow students – I found many opportunities through knowledge they shared. Join LinkedIn groups and email groups/lists, forums and newsletters for free. You can post your ideas and questions, and get your name out there. Start a blog. Join Facebook groups. Keep up to date with library news. People in this field are very willing to help new grads and provide advice.
Good luck to all you students, working in libraries is rewarding and challenging work and I hope you enjoy it as much as I do!
Follow my blog for more tips and discussions on being a new grad.
Thanks for sharing your thoughts Michelle. As always, you can join in the conversation in the comments below, or by using the hashtag #interlibnet and #LibrarySchool on twitter. You can also look us up on Facebook and post something there.