I had a little bit of a freak out a few weeks ago. It was the (obligatory?) “Holy crap, I’m Graduating!” freak out. Library school is a great time, but it has a goal, (hopefully) a job when you graduate. Despite all the work I’ve put in up to this point, the looming prospect of a job hunt in a tough economy terrifies me. What I’ve come to realize though is that there are two types of things you can stress about, things you can change, and things you can’t. Things you can’t change can’t be changed, so its better to just let them roll off your back. This piece is about the things I am doing in my last term to maximize the things I can change and end my library school experience on a high, and employable note. I’ve also asked my colleague Annie to chime, because we we’re on a similar time line, and two scenarios will give you twice the choices.
Going into my last term I’ve had a few lessons on the way. While my end goal (academic librarianship, and a Ph.D) remain the same, I’ve come to realize in the short term that I would work for a private law firm as a librarian. Regardless of what I wanted to do, the question still remained, how employable was I? What did I need to do to make sure that I had a job when I graduated?
In order to find that answer I went and talked to my adviser. You should probably have a similar conversation with your adviser at the start of your last year, but checking in at this point is fine, of course late is better than never. Sitting down with my advisor I also printed out a copy of my transcript, and a copy of my resume. My question was simply, what can I do to make myself more employable in the last semester?
Like Zach, my end goal is to be employed full time somewhere (preferably in an academic library). To be honest, I am filled with anxiety. I really don’t know what the future holds for me, but I am working hard like Zach to make sure that I am a viable candidate. For my last semester, I decided to intern at an art museum library. Since it’s my last term, and I originally wanted to go to school to be an art librarian, I decided to at least use my time in school to intern at an art library. I’m also taking my last core class to graduate, although I advise that people take those classes sooner, as opposed to later. I ended up not being able to take classes with professors that I really like because I had put off my required courses until the last semester.
My advice to those who are on a similar timeline: stay calm and plan ahead! I’ve started combing through job ads that I think I’d be interested in applying for, and created a spreadsheet. Now the real trick is to stay calm enough to not freak out as I write cover letters and try to graduate.
After reading Annie’s response it sound like we’re pretty much agreed on that the a key part of your last quarter is going to be the job hunt. Take some time over Thanksgiving break and work on developing your own system. Britt’s post, linked to above, is essential reading. Also check out I Need A Library Job, Infonista’s great blog, and Libgig. When you look at job sites like Libgig, its also a good idea to start reading the any posts on the site, they tend to have good information to help you in your job search. Library School is professional program, which means the job is what its all about. Just remember having a strategy and executing it is better than a last minute scatter shot approach.
Good luck with finals!