See you at the CLA conference in Halifax

Just a quick note to let everyone know I will be at the CLA conference in Halifax at the end of May. I’d love to meet up with some of my readers, so drop me a line if you’ll be there. And you should definitely attend the panel I’ll be speaking on: Getting on (Tenure) Track: New Professionals and Academic Librarianship on Friday, May 27 at 8:30 am. My Re:Gen colleagues and I will be talking about all the issues new or future academic librarians need to know about. Bring your questions, or just sit back and absorb the tips.

While I’m at it, allow me to also plug the session I will be convening: Technology Lightning Strikes! on Saturday, May 28 at 8:30 am. We have a fantastic group of tech experts who will be giving pithy talks, and afterwards everyone will have the chance to discuss in break-out groups. I assure you it will be worth waking up early for this one.

You may also be interested in my new post at the Re:Generations blog.

On being scared

I came across some career advice from my Re:Generations co-conspirator Meghan Ecclestone that I would like to share with you. You can (and should) read her whole post, but her key point is this:

Stop being scared

Now, I see exactly what she means: as students, especially around graduation time, we spend a lot of time being scared unnecessarily, and nobody like being scared. However, I’m going to disagree slightly. I don’t think it’s necessary (and perhaps not even desirable) to stop being scared. Instead, I would suggest the following:

Don’t let being scared stand in your way

Allow me to preface this by saying that I only speak from my own experience as a new librarian, and for all I know, perhaps highly experienced librarians can and should stop being scared. But I have my doubts.

First of all, we’re all scared when we graduate, and even (sorry to be the bearer of bad news) once we’re bona fide librarians. So don’t feel bad about being scared. And frankly, I feel that if you’re not scared, you’re not taking your career seriously enough. If you stop to consider the number of other qualified people who will be applying for your dream job, you should be scared indeed. The only people who aren’t at least a little scared when applying for a job either (a) haven’t put much thought into the reality of what they’re doing, and for this reason will probably fail, or (b) are applying for a job they are certain they will get, which means either they are overconfident and will probably fail, or else they have sold themselves short by applying for a job that will not challenge them.

The way I see it, being scared can work in your favour if you can harness your fear. For example, take giving a presentation. Depending on the content and the audience, sometimes giving a presentation scares me and sometimes it doesn’t (of course, when I first started presenting on a regular basis, I was always scared, so don’t feel bad if you’re in that boat). What’s interesting is that my best presentations are the ones that have scared me the most beforehand. The reason for this is that my fear drives me to work harder. Harnessing my fear leads me to spend more time rehearsing, even when I think I know the material already, and it makes me improve the content because I’m afraid of standing up and looking like an uninformed fool. And when I’m actually standing in front of the audience, being scared gives me the shot of adrenaline I need to be animated and engage the audience (I’m assuming this is why a particularly scary presentation is so exhausting!).

How about for a job application? Being scared makes me polish my CV more carefully and it makes me put in more hours researching the library I’m applying to, so that I’ll have the best shot at impressing my interviewers.

I like to present to students about blogging – I started my blog as a student, and I think it’s a great way to get a taste of the professional community. I always point out that although it’s terrifying at first, it’s completely worth it. At the end of one of these presentations, after pointing this out I threw in the following line on a whim, completely unrehearsed:

Some of the best things in life are terrifying, like riding rollercoasters and falling in love, and these things are still entirely worth doing.

I may have exaggerated about rollercoasters being one of the best things in life, but they’re a good example of something we do *because* they scare us. Don’t stop being scared; embrace your fear, and use it to your advantage.

Another year of Professional Partnering is over, but the connections will live on

The academic year is winding down, and last week was the end-of-year get-together for McGill’s Professional Partnering Program. Congrats to soon-to-be MLIS grad Adam Baron for organizing a great year of partnering (and a wrap-up with delicious food). Due to some scheduling difficulties, I wasn’t able to meet with my partner as many times as I would have liked this year, but we were able to chat at a number of events, and we had tea at my favourite tea house. And I know we’ll keep in touch, even now that the semester is over.

As I’ve said before, I really encourage all students to sign up for a mentorship program, or to create one if there isn’t already one in place (and of course I recommend it to professionals as well!). This is a great way to connect one-on-one with a professional – plus, at the kick-off and finale events, you’ll almost certainly have the chance to meet your classmates’ partners as well. If you’re not looking for a job now, you will be soon, and having someone to coach you through the application process is crucial.

Have questions about mentorship? Let me know in the comments, and I’ll share my wisdom. :)