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General words of advice


Tips related to coursework

  • Group projects are a large part of the coursework. It's important to be flexible with group members and meeting times. It's also a good idea to get to know your group members and their individual strengths - that will make it easier to divvy up work. And communicate regularly!
  • After being assigned a new group project, go out for beers with your group members immediately. Getting to know each other as a group informally will help you figure out the best way to work together as a team.
  • Don't be afraid to put off core classes in favor of interesting courses that are offered less often. And talk to the professor before taking the course - more often than not, the official course description differs drastically from the actual course content.
  • Take classes outside of the iSchool - the iSchool is incredibly flexible in allowing students to 'craft' a degree that is meaningful and appropriate to the individual and your specialization can make all the difference when you're job hunting.
  • There will always be more interesting courses than you have time to take. Plan carefully. Leave room for the special topics course that you didn't know you wanted to take. Take the elective(s) that you know you'll need to land a job, but take at least one elective just for the fun of it.
  • Two years goes by a lot more quickly than you think. If you're not sure about what you want to do when you go into the program, make sure you sample a range of electives your first year and use the summer before your second year to try out something you're genuinely interested in. You'll find out quickly enough whether it's something you'd actually want to pursue career-wise.
  • Take classes outside the iSchool. Learn to see your material and consider your ideas from positions that are not specifically oriented toward the management of libraries and assistance of "patrons".
  • Do fieldworks. When you go on interviews, nobody will give a damn about the classes you took. No practical experience = no job.

Tips regarding extracurricular activities and more

  • If you're not already working or volunteering in a library, start NOW. When you get done with school, you're going to have to hit the job market hard and try not to limit yourself geographically. Start mentally preparing yourself to move anywhere, and if you get lucky and find a job somewhere nice, that's even better.
  • If you can afford it, attend professional congregations.
  • Start looking at job descriptions now! When you see an interesting position, make a note of what skills you already have and what you need to develop - it will help you plan your course load and the kinds of directed fieldwork projects you should get involved in.
  • Don't stress too much about getting a job - apply for what you really want to do, and be patient! It's worth the wait to find something you are passionate about.
  • iSchool professors are a great resource. Read their research, visit their office hours, get to know them outside of class.
  • Save time for a show at Meany Theater. Schmitz Hall often has coupons for heavily discounted student tickets at the beginning of the year.
  • I'd always heard about this thing called "networking" and how important it was to getting jobs, but I thought (wrongly) that I was too shy and not well-connected enough to ever accomplish it. Go to conferences and library-related trainings or events, volunteer if you can. Just by going to events and being around librarians, those networks will develop. You don't have to be super-networker person for this to happen and you don't have to go to national conferences to get started. Start locally, introduce yourself to the folks you happen to sit with during keynote speeches, trainings, etc., and you'll be developing those networks. When you apply for jobs, your name will stick out to people you've met more than those that have only been involved in on-campus activities.
  • Keep your non-school schedule as flexible as possible.
  • I recommend that students get comfortable with technologies such as HTML/CSS and XML/XSL. Most everything is moving to the web and although you might not need to do actual coding, it helps to have a general sense of how things work.
  • Don't expect to learn everything you need to know about libraries from your classes. Get a job in a library, do informational interviews with people in the profession, attend conferences, get involved with library organizations, read Library Journal,, or librarian blogs. Do this even if it cuts into your homework time: it will be far more valuable than just about anything you will be assigned to do for class. Also, remember that if you do a DFW, you're not only working for free but you're paying the iSchool for the privilege. Consider other opportunities where you might get paid, like GA-ships, student librarianships at SPL, KCLS, or Renton Libraries, or just regular library jobs. Always try to remember that working in libraries is fun even if library school isn't.
  • Check your e-mails religiously. I'm horrible at this, but it's essential if you want to stay caught up on everything.
  • Invest in the student organizations, volunteer in the community, and look early for part time jobs to test your skills. It's all about connections!
  • Go to as many of the iSchool events as you can. Volunteer with an organization that interests you. Get involved with the student groups. Socialize with the people in your program - it's a great way to pick up info that you might not otherwise have gotten. And have fun! You'll get as much out of the program as you put into it.
  • Get to know your professors, and take advantage of all the opportunities for volunteering, directed fieldworks, etc. Not only are they great experience, they are great for building connections (which you'll need after graduation) and for making progress on the portfolio. Oh, and start thinking about your portfolio - and taking notes on the experiences *as they happen* right away. Don't wait until your second year to start thinking about it!

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September 24, 2007
Vol. XII Issue 1

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