9 Dec 2016

New Professionals Day Ireland 2016 : The First Rung on the ladder: Part 1 (Maynooth, November 19th 2016)

Guest post by Siobhan McGuinness Siobhan has presented at library conferences such as ASL and CDG. In addition, she enjoys writing blog posts for library organisations.

The team that run New Professionals Day Ireland deliver very important and relevant events for New Professionals. The focus this year being “Applications, Interviews & First Experiences of New Professionals”. The job hunt is tough, something akin to the hunger games in my experience which of course is played out in my mind, not reality.

Library and Information Professionals know they have a wide range of skills, not all of those skills get the proper use in college. You are thought the theory and the practice yet with only a limited amount of experience when you graduate, it is difficult to secure that first job.

If you know what you want during the college term, really dedicate your time to finding out the sector or skill you wish to advance in and you will succeed. Like Caroline Rowan our first speaker, she carefully planned where she wished to see herself, a medical librarian. The advice Caroline gives is one of an action plan, take a step back, look at where you see yourself, think about the plan ahead. When applying for jobs that are short term contracts always ask yourself where will this job take me on my long-term goal? Have these answers ready before you apply.

The application is a long and tedious road, and they are all different. Be aware of the different formats, inform yourself of things like Garda vetting, all the addresses you lived in will need to be identified. Different jobs require different CV’s, so be prepared to rewrite everything. Have that master CV, it will help you in the long run.

The next step is the interview, this is a huge pat on the back. It means your CV works and is what the organisation wanted. Now it is for you to prepare, hold on to the job descriptions as this is vital information to you. Prepare yourself more, forearmed is forewarned as they say. Email (very nicely) to the HR personnel and ask them the interview process, information like how many will be on the panel and who they are, what type of interview will it be?

Next up was the first of four lighting presentations, Gary LaCumbre led the way with his presentation “The elusive middle ground: over qualified and under experienced”. This is where I sit, in nearly all my interviews the lack of actual library experience is always a disadvantage to me. It is disheartening to have a Master’s degree and still find yourself applying for jobs at an entry level, because you don’t have the necessary experience. It is even more difficult to be told that you are over qualified for posts, because the organisation do not accept qualified professionals at entry level posts. Gary says, no matter what post you are successful in always make sure you get involved with other projects, maximise your skillset so that when you find yourself once again job searching you “have travelled outside of your own job description”.  A wonderful presentation and very heart-warming for those of us who are constantly searching.

Niall O’Brien followed with “Learning at the Information desk”. Here Niall teaches us to build a relationship with your users, get to know them, their interests. In essence even though you are doing a “job” you are doing the job you love so let that show when dealing with users, this is such an important message and one that we often forget, so thank you Niall. While you build this relationship, you teach them how to answer their own research queries, you give them the tools. Assess how you interact with your users, does the information desk look like a wall, a barrier, or is it a welcoming space an informal space that makes the user comfortable. Always make the experience something that the user will use and learn from.

Anita Cooper began her presentation with the fab title “A librarian gets into a taxi…and guess what happens next? Anita tells us the story of how in the most unexpected circumstances she secured an internship with Dublin Business School Library, with the lovely Marie O’Neill. Now that she has graduated and is on her search to secure a library job, she says to keep an open mind. You need to always believe that when you are in the right place at the right time things do happen. Anita says if her husband had not met Marie and told her the story of the difficult choice Anita was making regarding changing careers and becoming a librarian. If happenstance had not occurred she would hate to think where she would have ended up, or even worse abandoned her dreams. Don’t lose faith, we all know this is what we want so keep going, because we will get there.

Lastly, we have Jesse Waters “My first year out of Library School” these amazing achievements in just one year goes to show that dedication and drive really does pay off. Jesse says in order to keep your mental health healthy in between jobs, job searching and the mountain of rejections, is to concentrate on your Continuing Professional Development. Look for seminars and conferences that you can present at, be a lightning talk or a poster presentation it helps you focus on your profession, and reminds you that you love what you are doing. While looking after your mental health, network and this keeps you in touch with everyone, opportunities arise from these meet up’s. 

The high standard of presentations at npdi16 was incredible, to all of the brand-new, new library and informational professionals keep doing what you are doing because it will stand to you. All you need is patience and time, just remember to have fun along the way!

Part two can be read here .

A Storify of the event has been created and can be seen here


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