Magazine article American Libraries

Working Knowledge. (Professional Development)

Magazine article American Libraries

Working Knowledge. (Professional Development)

Article excerpt

Q I am often discouraged when looking at job advertisements because of their strict requirements for on-the-job experience, many specifying three to five years. I believe our future lies in passing the ideals of our profession on to future generations through mentoring and practical experience, not in belaboring how long a person has served at a reference desk. How do I get an employer to go out on a limb and take a chance on me?

Katie Gohn, recent graduate

University of Tennessee/Knoxville

A Do not be discouraged, as you are definitely needed to join the profession and help alleviate the expected critical shortage of librarians. Keep in mind that the three to five years is a suggested criterion to screen out applicants, especially those with numerous years of experience. What such an ad implies is that they are looking for a candidate with some experience to join their team. You may be able to parlay some of your experience as a graduate student in order to sell yourself.

Some strategies students or recent graduates can use to build marketability to an employer:

* Know specifically what kind of job you are looking for--children's librarian, corporate librarian, Web designer, instruction librarian--and list relevant courses on your resume.

* Establish a work history with a part-time job at the university or local public library, or by working for a faculty member.

* Do an internship or practicum as your coursework to gain on-the-job experience--a way of putting your knowledge to work.

* Be active in your school's student association to build contacts with other students and their employers.

* Speak with members of your alumni association to find a mentor who can guide you through the job search process and provide additional networking contacts.

* Build a portfolio of your work, including course projects such as bibliographies and Web page designs.

* Work with your school's placement office to gain tips on job searching and to review materials you will send to employers.

* Volunteer at your local library if paid positions are not available.

* Rely on the graduate school faculty for contacts and advice--especially your faculty advisor. …

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