With the start of the fall semester about three weeks ago, I soon added, “And this is my last semester of library school!” to my conversations about library school with classmates, professors, work colleagues, and friends. It wasn’t long before people started responding, “So, what are you doing after graduation?” Suddenly, that became the million dollar question, one I’m still trying to answer!
Ideally, my answer is, “Become a librarian, of course!” As a nontraditional student (via being eligible to join AARP, but resisting the urge so far!), I’ve discovered that’s going to be more complicated than I expected. The main snag I’ve come across so far is that the salary ranges (when listed) on a number of job postings I’ve seen for new librarians are less than what I’m currently making as a full-time non-MLS supervisor in an ARL library. While I’m willing to move for the right librarian job, am I willing to take a pay cut for a new librarian position? It depends on the professional growth potential, benefits, and cost of living, among other things, so it’s obviously not an easy answer.
I’ve been fortunate to have a library job I enjoy, along with very supportive colleagues, as I’ve made my way through library school. While I’ve got a busy final semester, with a class and a 120-hour practicum, in addition to my normal work, I’ve decided to keep exploring my options, while getting ready for life post-graduation. Here are a few things I’m working on this semester, to help me come up with the answer to what I’ll do after I graduate:
- Stay up on library job openings: I’ve joined some library job-related listservs, websites, and blogs. This has helped me get ideas for skills to build on and well as job leads. Some of my favorites include the jobs listserv at UNC SILS, ALA JobLIST, INALJ, and Hiring Librarians. I haven’t applied for any jobs yet, but I’ll keep looking! I’ve also followed more of Julia Feerrer’s advice in “Tools for an Organized Job Search.” (Using cloud storage for the resume is one of my favorites of Julia’s tips.)
- Work on new skills at my current job: This semester, I’m doing a practicum for credit (3 elective hours pass/fail) in a different Technical Services department, learning serials copy cataloging. It’s a lot of new information for me, so I’m excited about this opportunity to learn more about something I’ve known so little about. It’s also provided the chance to work with some different colleagues, which has been great! (By the way, I’d LOVE to get a librarian position at my current library!)
- Plan for conferences after graduation: Conferences are a wonderful place for professional development and networking! Opportunities abound for in-person resume review, career counseling, and mentoring at conferences, especially the major ones. I’ve got ALA Midwinter (January) and Annual 2015 (June) on my calendar, as well as the ACRL Conference (March), where I’m looking forward to my first conference panel presentation with a former library school classmate.
- Take advantage of ALA resources now, not just a conferences: The ALA JobLIST is a great resource for job listings and articles. If you’re a member of NMRT, they offer resume review by email year-round, not just at Midwinter and Annual. I emailed my resume to NMRT earlier this week, and can’t wait to get some feedback!
- Pretend that I’m moving: One of my new projects at home is to take at least one bag of “stuff” per week to Goodwill or some other donation center. It was difficult at first to let go of things, but now I’m on a roll, and it feels good to have cleaner closets and drawers. I’ve collected tons of stuff over the years, so this is a good thing! I’m also registering my already-finished (or never-gonna-read) books on Bookcrossing, and leaving them on a freebie bookshelf near the coffee shop at work. How does this help with job hunting, though, you ask? It’ll be much easier to pack for a move if that “right job” warrants a change of address. And if I find a librarian gig close enough to stay where I am, I’ll want to update my professional wardrobe anyway, and now there’ll be room in the closet!
- Plot how I’ll use some of my newly regained post-graduation free time: One of my ideas is learning a second language, possibly using something like Transparent (formerly Byki) offered free through work, or Rosetta Stone. (I might be more motivated if I have to pay for it!) Should I pick a new language based on where I’d like to travel for fun (probably a Western European language), or one that might be useful for work (possible something more unique like a language in a non-Roman script)? For now, I’m gathering opinions from a variety of sources. What do you think?
So here it is, the outline of my life for the next three months, my last semester of library school! I feels good to have a plan, especially since the final months of library school are often busy ones. I ordered my cap, gown, and lemon-yellow library science hood today, one more step toward my dream of earning an MLS. What am I doing after graduation? I don’t know yet, but I’m working on an answer!
What are you planning to do after graduation? What steps are you taking now to get ready?