If you keep up with the professional literature/blogs these days, you have undoubtedly noticed the influx of articles/posts dedicated to MLS students (or prospective MLS students). These articles/posts usually have a grim tone to them, even the ones that are trying to be positive.
Now, I’m not saying that we should sugar coat anything. Are we in a terrible recession? Yes. Are job prospects bleak? Pretty much. However, it was just last year that I was an unemployed MLS graduate and the pain, frustration and creeping depression of that time is still pretty darn fresh in my mind. So, with the holidays approaching, I’ve decided to bring a bit of holiday cheer to those MLS students who are not only stressing over final projects, but who are also stressing over the impending job search. Because what these MLS students really need right now (aside from completed projects and full time jobs…which I would love to give all of them but sadly can’t) is a reminder of just how awesome they are!
SO HERE’S TO YOU, MLS STUDENTS! WHEN TIMES ARE TOUGH, REMEMBER THAT YOU ARE…
You’ve made it through grad school, and that’s no easy feat! You’ve conquered your cataloging classes, where you learned how to use colons in ways that were not taught in your 5th grade English class. You’ve vanquished your tech classes, where you spent hours writing code and using semi colons in ways that were not taught in your 5th grad English class. You’ve done research, answered seemingly inane questions in your reference classes, mastered intellectual freedom, and made it through endless debates over ‘what is information.’ I know people who can’t get accepted into a graduate program. I know others who started grad school only to drop out after a semester. You’ve made it through. Don’t take that lightly.
Let’s face it: the job search is terrifying in general. No matter the profession, anyone who’s without a job is intimidated by the process of getting a job (unless they’re exceedingly cocky or have a parent who’s in a position to hire). But if you’re working on professional development. If you’re sending out resumes. If you’re trying to network. Then you are brave and you are doing so much more than the people who are too scared to do so. So put your game faces on, people. It may be a bumpy ride, but you’ve got the guts to see it through.
3. Self Motivated
These days our profession is known for its online degrees. Others can say what they want about obtaining a Masters degree online, but the simple fact of the matter is that anyone who successfully completes an online degree is very, very self motivated. It’s exceedingly difficult to complete assignments on time when you don’t have to face your professor in person. You don’t have anyone reminding you to get stuff done, you just have to do it yourself. Not many people can do that. Furthermore, many of you have juggled class with work and family and other obligations. It takes an extremely self motivated individual to work for the man, take care of loved ones and then sacrifice sleep in order to turn in that 20 page paper about censorship. If you can do that, then you can motivate yourself to get through the job search.
Do you think that just anyone can master metadata or SQL? How many non-library science people know of ways to look for information without the help of Google? These are valuable skills even outside of the library science field, and you have them! You’re tech savvy, people savvy and well read. You have several degrees under your belt, and you should be proud of that fact.
If you’ve done a practicum or internship where you worked at the desk or helped with programs, then you’ve developed the patience needed to work with people — the problem patrons, the helicopter parents, the snooty teenagers, etc. If your practicum or internship experience was on the tech side of things, then you’ve developed the patience needed to work with computers — and let’s face it, computers can be just as frustrating, if not moreso, than people. You’ve even developed patience just by working on those group projects that MLS programs are so fond of assigning. Patience is a virtue, and it’ll take you a long way. You just have to be patient for a little while longer.
One year ago, at the beginning of November, I was an unemployed MLS graduate who had sent out countless applications to libraries but hadn’t heard back from many. By Thanksgiving, however, things changed and I was called by 3 different libraries within two days to set up interviews for December. By the end of the year, I was hired by my current employer. The moral of this story is that during the job search, you can go through months of radio silence, not hearing back from any of the places you’ve applied to. Then, a tweak of a resume or a new networking opportunity or something else entirely can change everything. It may take awhile. And it’ll be hard work. And you might have to make some sacrifices along the way. But I promise you, if you stick with it and keep trying, then it’ll be worth it.