So in a previous post I had mentioned ways to get experience. Experience is a great way to get ahead, though in this program with the amount of volunteer oportunities and the co-op option almost everyone is going to have some sort of experience coming out. So how do you seperate youself from the pack? Participation in extra curricular activities is the key.
In such a compressed program many students don’t get involved in the extra curricular, because they don’t think they have the time. This is not the additude to have. The unfortunate truth is when you gradfuate you and 100 others in the same school as you will have the exact same degree. As well there are likely a few hundred others graduating across Canada. What can you do to seperate yourself from the crowd.
Join an Association – There are many professional associations out there that can seperate you from the rest of those MLIS grads. Almost all of them have acronyms such as: ALA, CLA, OCULA, SLA, OLA, LWB, etc. Each of these organizations has a distinct goal or purpose and can help an employer get a sense of what type of person you are before even giving an interview. It also lets employers know you are actively involved in the field.
Partipate in Association politics – Become an active member of the associations local chapter. I am currently (Fall 2013) the CLA-UWO chapter Public Outreach representative. So don’t just join an association seperate yourself even more and become involved in the activities within the local chapter of the association. This looks good on a resume and shows you are even more involved with the ideals of the organization than simply as a participant.
Join the Student Union – Become an active member of the student union. This will show employers that you were actively participating in the day to day opwerations of your school or faculty. It is a great experience and shows leadership
Go to Conferences – Given the oprtunity make your way to local, regional or national conferences if you can. These are great opportunities to network as well as put on your resume. By listing conferences you’ve attended recently (say in the past 2-3 years) will show you are interested in certain topics and issues in the field. This can be very valuable for profession al development and could open doors to jobs through the people you meet.
Present at Conferences – This can seem scary, but does not have to be as formal as you might think. You can present ideas or papers in large lecture hall, or just present a poster in a hall of many posters. In either case you may be able to betwork and show initiative when you put on your resume that you presented a poster on Library as a Place at the OLA super conference in Toronto. It can be a fairly simnple process of standing with your poster and answering questions for an hour or two.
These are just a few examples of how you can seperate yourself from the crowd. By participating in different events or organization you are only in competition with a few dozen, rather than a few hundred people with the exact same MLIS degree.