Nearly two years ago I became a newly minted librarian fresh out of Syracuse Library School. After earning the Master’s degree many are qualified for the opportunities ahead. However, many positions require post-graduate experience or something as close, often in the range of 1 to 2 years. What’s a newbie to do? They have the education but not the experience, and can’t get the experience because they don’t have prior experience and they can’t get experience…. see where this is going?
I was lucky enough to have two internships, several volunteer positions, and great professors who taught me to put myself out there and how! This lead to a range of experiences, mentors, and a solid foundation. The value of getting outside of the classroom and into the library, meeting librarians across fields, volunteering, and going to library events is invaluable. The best and fastest task one can can accomplish is to contact area librarians. Talk to the public, county, law, state, private, corporate, medical, etc. librarians and get their advice and get your face/name out there. The knowledge/wisdom a new student can gather is astounding. Librarians are eager to talk to students and future librarians. People also love talking about themselves! Ask a librarian about how they got started, where do they see the profession heading, and how can a new librarian best get started.
One of the most infamous exercises in library school is the “librarian interview”. It’s a useful assignment and it forces students to get out of the classroom and learn from those in the field. Students need to do more though and branch out. Talking to one librarian a semester doesn’t cut it; and the assignment often proves to formal to be helpful in finding a volunteer opportunity or making real connections. It’s as simple as picking up the phone, calling a librarian to introduce yourself, schedule a tour of the library maybe have lunch, et voilà.