So you have decided to become an information professional! You are in the last year of your studies or perhaps you have already completed a degree or diploma in librarianship and information studies, or in information science. What next? How can you decide on the programme of action most suited to your personal needs and ability? This will require not only careful thought on your part, but also well planned action.
A simple start would be to think back to the reasons that made you embark on your course of study in the first place, and to look through any material that you collected at that time. If this has been filed away for a while, you will need to update your information, so that you are sure that you are considering all the current possibilities and data. A lot of useful careers information is available on the Chartered Institute of Library and Information Professionals (CILIP) web site, and those of the various schools of information studies, e.g. the RAGU site for London Metropolitan University (formerly the Universities of North London and Guildhall) has links to a number of useful web sites in education, training, and employment. If you are still in the process of carrying out your studies, your personal tutor, or the college or university's careers officer, should be able to help, by discussing the different types of information work available, and helping you decide to which you would be best suited. Most universities and colleges are happy for their students to continue to seek advice from the Careers Advisory Service after the course of study has been completed, and at later stages of their careers. Prospects, the UK's official graduate careers website, has a section on career planning and you can give yourself a psychometric test to discover your ideal career. The Prospects site also provides details of graduate market trends: useful if you want to check the average starting salary for an information position! There are also a number of independent career consultants, who can be traced through the website of the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development (who maintain a list). This list, at the time of writing, is slightly difficult to find: from the home page, go to 'Events' and select 'Forums' from the drop-down menu. Within Forums, select 'Counselling and Career Management' to access a Directory of Career and Outplacement Consultants (in pdf format). Alternatively, you can check with any of the careers associations listed in Directory of British Associations (2000).