Before even starting library school, students can join local and national associations, such as the American Library Association, often at a student rate. Within ALA are five ethnic caucuses: the American Indian Library Association (AILA), the Asian Pacific American Library Association (APALA), the Black Caucus of the American Library Association (BCALA), the Chinese American Library Association (CALA) and REFORMA—the National Association to Promote Library Services to Latinos and the Spanish-Speaking.
When I applied to library school, I knew I was taking a risk. I was finishing up my undergraduate degree in American Ethnic Studies (AES) and my classes were always filled with BIPOC (Black, Indigenous, and people of color). Sure, my English classes, my other major, were full of white people and I had grown up in a predominantly white suburb, but I felt lucky that I had so many positive experiences in AES. But looking around at my MLIS orientation I knew that this would be different. My program, and as an extension the field, looked nothing like me. How was I going to survive three years, especially as an online student?
You’ve applied, made it past the interview(s), and have accepted a new position! But soon you realize that the workplace isn’t what you were expecting – in fact, it’s quickly going downhill. It started with a few questionable comments from coworkers and has spiraled into microaggressions, lack of support, toxic relationships, and maybe even harassment. Drawn from my own experiences and talking with others in the field, this article will discuss strategies for surviving negative workplace environments. It will focus specifically on student internships and jobs but is also relevant to those in temp positions. See the first two articles of this series (applications and interviews) for more information.
You’ve done your research, written your cover letter, and have just been contacted for an interview! But the research and preparation doesn’t stop now. An interview will allow you to directly ask about workplace culture, staff, and other important aspects about a job that could make or break a decision. This article is part of a larger series about navigating workplace culture – how to learn about the culture of an organization, decide what’s best for you, and dealing with negative experiences once in a position.
For MLIS students hoping to gain full-time employment in the LIS field after graduation, work experience – whether through a job, internship, or volunteer position – is necessary to stand out from other applicants. Yet while we are told repeatedly by professors and professionals to complete an internship or another work experience during grad school, there is little discussion about what to look for in an internship, how to evaluate worksites, and how to handle poor treatment during the internship.
As more MLIS programs integrate tech courses and requirements into their curriculum, many MLIS students who are not tech-savvy nor have a tech background struggle in these courses. At the University of Washington, there are numerous tech courses available for students and a requirement that every student takes at least one of these courses. I’ve heard stories and also personally experienced the struggles of these courses and even some of the mental breakdowns. Many students dread these courses and the long hours they often require.
At 21 years old and about to graduate, I was afraid to move. Not only had I lived and attended university in the same area I grew up in, but I was worried I wouldn’t be able to support myself financially. So, I found myself again at the University of Washington (UW), this time in a library program that did not have an archives focus. Yet I wanted to become an archivist and the two or three archives-focused classes offered was off-putting. I was afraid I wouldn’t gain the skills that would make me a competitive applicant once I graduate.