36 credit hours complete. It felt pretty wonderful to see that on my transcript this past week. After 5 semesters and about 20 months, I have completed my MLIS degree. Still feels a bit surreal. Probably won’t hit me until I walk at graduation next week. It’s exciting, though. And made more exciting as I am very lucky to already have full-time employment as a Research Analyst.
It all has me thinking, though, how will I stay connected now that I will not be going to class and interacting with other students on a regular basis? How will I keep myself a part of the profession? In my previous career I became pretty insulated and it was hard to continue that learning process. I really want to make sure that doesn’t happen to me now, especially working in a fairly private environment.
So how will I stay connected to the profession? How do all of you recent graduates plan on staying connected? How will I make that transition? I have listed some ideas below but I’m curious what you all feel will be your way to stay involved and continue learning. Earlier this week, Annie wrote about her self-assessment process as she enters her second year of library school and Heidi wrote about the transition from student to professional and both posts got me thinking quite a bit. As someone who is finishing the program, I guess I’m doing a bit of self-assessment as well. But in my case, it is focused on what I did not have a chance to learn in my program and what I still want to learn and figuring out how I am going to do that. And also maybe finding a way to be ok with the fact that I may not be able to stay connected every day!
Conferences – a great way to stay connected and develop professionally. Even if you cannot physically attend a conference there are usually ways to interact virtually and through social media. (stay tuned for some Hack Library School ALA-related posts).
Alumni Boards – my program has an active alumni board that puts on events throughout the year; both for alumni and current students. I’m hoping this will be a great way for me to stay connected on a local level as I’m staying in the area where my school is located.
Continuing Education Classes – Simmons offers continuing education courses that are open to all! They range from full-day, evening, and weekend workshops and are offered each semester. They also have online workshops that are asynchronous. I will definitely be keeping an eye on what is being offered here in the future.
Professional Organizations – these are another great way to stay involved after graduation. Many of the national organizations have city and/or state chapters that make staying involved a bit more convenient, especially if you do not have the funds or time to travel on a regular basis. I think it’s also important to remember that you do not have to be involved in EVERY organization. Figure out what works for you and what you are interested in. Kind of like picking courses in library school….
Social Media – last but not least, there is the newest way to stay connected, social media! Where would we be without Twitter and Facebook? Well I’m sure there are many, both positive and non-positive answers for that question. But they both can provide great ways to stay connected professionally, depending on how you like to use them. I have three social media specific suggestions to make, though, about staying connected:
Libchat – every Wednesday night from 8-9:30 EST, library-tweeps come together on Twitter to ask questions and to share thoughts on all aspects of the profession. Check it out!
LinkedIn – beyond creating a profile to share with prospective employers and contacts, think of using the library-related groups at this site. There is a group for the American Library Association as well as a sub-group of ALA on LIS Career Options. (I believe you have to have a profile to join the groups).
Blogs – as we’ve discussed on HLS before, blogs can be a great way to stay involved in the profession and on top of the current issues. And, I guess I’m biased, but you should obviously keep this blog on the top of your reading list!