Preparing for the End (Of Library School)

Photo by Sarah Starkweather

Since the end of spring semester, Hack Library School bloggers have been posting great content to keep you going this summer.  For me, summer will not be a break. I’ll be finishing my last semester of school. If you’re like me, library school has been a marathon. Perhaps you’ve just finished your first mile, maybe you’re half way through–or maybe you can see the finish line. Smart marathon runners have a post-race recovery plan that starts the second after they cross the finish line. I’m starting to think like a runner to prepare myself for life after library school. Here are a few ideas I’m moiling over to prepare for the end.

Keep Moving

You can’t run a marathon and stop running the instant your foot crosses the finish line. There’s a requisite cool down needed after you’ve pushed yourself to the limit for 26 miles. I’m sure it will be tempting to veg out post graduation—but think of high interest projects to take up after school. The immediate task for many graduates is to start job hunting. In addition, your cool down phase can be a great opportunity to take on internships, fine tune your resume, build a portfolio, publish or brush up on topics you missed out on in your coursework. After I complete my coursework, I’m planning to attend ALA’s Virtual Conference and work on book reviews. I’m also looking to publish some of my work and learn code (per Topher’s suggestion in How To Hack Your Summer Vacation).

Restore Balance

Runners take ice baths, hydrate, get massages, and eat carb and protein-filled meals to restore their bodies to stasis after a distance race. Personally, I’m at a point far from stasis. I don’t plan to take an ice bath anytime soon, but I do want to use my newfound free time to cook fresh meals, exercise, spend time with my friends and get plenty of sleep. Hack Library School has had some great posts on work/school/life balance that I recommend checking out. Perhaps you’ve been able to keep that balance during school, if not, brainstorm ways to reward and take better care of yourself after graduation.  While some of these things may happen quite naturally, others take some effort. I’ve gotten used to being too busy to hang out, cook or exercise. I’m ready to tell myself “You’ve got time to jog–go for it!”

Prepare to be Surprised

I’d like to change gears for a bit and abandon the running analogy for a movie quote. I wrote this blog post knowing I could prove myself wrong in just a few weeks time. I’m planning and preparing myself for my life after library school–but my plans may not matter. We can’t know what life after library school brings. We can’t know how we will adjust to the changes on the horizon. One of my favorite quotes from the  movie Dan in Real Life reads:

“Instead of telling our young people to plan ahead, we should tell them to plan to be surprised.”

Prepare yourself as much as you can but know that there are things that will happen after school that are beyond your control. When you walk across the stage at graduation, or click the “submit” button on your last assignment–take a deep breath and know that change is coming.

Library school students, what are you doing to prepare for life after library school? Graduates, what did you do to prepare for transition? What is a change or challenge that you didn’t expect? How did you face it?

Categories: Hellos & Goodbyes

6 replies

  1. Hi Sarah,
    Great post and well timed! This is excellent advice for all MLIS students to consider no matter what stage of their program they may find themselves. Your post also made me think of perspective, MLIS students need to continually keep their professional goals and plans in perspective as they progress through their programs. I will be finishing my MLIS program at SJSU this fall and have decided to start working on my ePortfolio this summer, updating my resume (as you suggested in your post), attending conferences (the ALA virtual conference is a good one for MLIS students), posting to my blog more often, and pressing my current employer for more interesting library work and attending more committee meetings. Thanks again for your post!


  2. You’re most welcome. It sounds like you’re off to a great start. I really like your idea to ask your employer for “more interesting library work.”



  3. I’m already turning into a blob I feel, although I have plenty to keep me busy now that I have graduated. I feel like my life is a big fog, I really can’t see what lies ahead so I’m ready to be surprised.


  4. I’m job searching like crazy and working as a freelancer at a television production studio part time. Trying to restore some balance, but it just won’t be there until I find a job…


  5. I love the marathon analogy! I finished my MLS in December 2011 and was fortunate enough to already have a job lined up. However, I wasn’t at all prepared for how lost and purposeless I felt immediately after two years of working full time and going to school full time. I would get off work and wander aimlessly around my house feeling vaguely anxious and stressed – I started referring to it as phantom homework.

    By all means, look for jobs, prepare portfolios and find new ways to learn, but I’d also recommend spending at least some of your newfound post-degree spare time going in a completely different, entirely personal direction. You probably had several hobbies that fell by the wayside during your program or things you were interested in pursuing if you weren’t so swamped – this is a great time to revisit them with that special breed of graduate student intensity you possess right now.

    Thanks for a great post!


    • Thanks for your great comments Anne. I’m working and going to school. Like you, I anticipate some feelings of anxiety when I have less to do. You’re totally right about returning to hobbies and interests. I craft, paint and I’m looking to learn the mandolin. Those things are on my after school to do list as well. I’m looking forward to having time for things beyond work and library school! Thanks again.


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