About two weeks ago, I sat in a bar with a few friends and toasted to the end of our first semester of library school. Except it wasn’t really the end. It was the last day of class, but we all had several more projects and papers to complete over the following week. One friend even opened up her laptop and worked on coding her website that was due by midnight.
This semester was a marathon up until the very end. Finishing it feels like an accomplishment on par with literally running a marathon. But before collapsing into a useless heap for the next few weeks before spring semester begins, take a moment to take stock of all you’ve accomplished. At that pseudo-celebration, we discussed our proudest moments, new career insights and experiences we gained, and how none of us have updated our LinkedIn profiles in about half a year. We all agreed that it’s important to begin to take inventory as early as our first semester. Collectively, we came up with a few ideas.
Don’t wait until your last semester to begin to translate what you learned in class into marketable, resume-ready skills. Did your classes have practical applications? Challenge yourself to come up with two or three skills gained from each class. Did you take a theoretical class? What insights, interests, or goals did you develop? Seek out areas on your resume, cover letter, or professional website to include these new pearls of wisdom. At the very least, begin a running list of “things you know now that you didn’t know before.” This list may surprise you!
It’s never too early to begin the dreaded ePortfolio. In our last semester at Rutgers, all MLIS students must take a zero-credit course called “ePortfolio Capstone.” Even if it just means clicking and dragging your final projects into a new file on your desktop called “Whatever,” you’ll be a little further ahead and will undoubtedly give yourself a hearty pat on the back come next spring. If your school doesn’t have a requirement like this, think about gathering your best projects, websites, presentations, or screencasts in one place, so when it’s time to create a professional website or digital portfolio, you won’t have to do so much digging.
Try LinkedIn. LinkedIn is my favorite thing. No, it may not be the most meaningful way to network. But it’s a good place to keep track of all your achievements: for you, if not for anyone else. Like Facebook does for your personal life, LinkedIn can make your professional life seem way better than it is. Though, unlike Facebook, this isn’t accomplished through lying by omission. With LinkedIn, you simply have one place to boast about all your work and educational accomplishments, commitments, and experiences. I would also suggest taking a peek at the LinkedIn profiles of professionals that have the jobs you want. Do this for an accurate idea of what they consider to be their job duties, for help in crafting appropriate descriptions of skills on your resume, and as a way to find folks for an informational interview.
Before you unwind, don’t forget to toast to your incredible achievements this semester. You did it! And so much more. Whether you make a list of what you’ve learned, start to organize your favorite projects, or (finally) update your LinkedIn profile, make sure to thank yourself for making it through the first leg of your journey to reaching your goals.
What have you done to celebrate the end of the semester? What are your awesome accomplishments? What do you think about LinkedIn?