Obtaining a MLIS can set a foundation of theoretical and practical knowledge that is valuable for succeeding in career as a librarian or information professional. However, one aspect of a MLIS degree that is not often discussed but that is invaluable is the creation of a network of friends in libraries/archives/knowledge management. I have just recently begun to reflect on how lucky I am to have studied for the past two years with such a wonderful group of people. Like most students, I had a choice of what universities I could attend for my degree. I could have easily taken the same program at l’Université de Montréal instead of at McGill. But I have a hard time imagining what my experience would have been with a completely different set of classmates. So many things create a strong bond between classmates: working on group projects, complaining about exams and assignments, discussing/poking fun at various professors.
Unfortunately this year I was so busy with school work, associations, and my part-time jobs that I did not socialize as much as I would have liked. For those who wanted, there were lots of opportunities outside of class to hang out with friends and classmates. An informal MLIS group called “Pub Club” even set times and places for people to meet together to enjoy Montreal’s exciting nightlife.
A few weeks ago on the Librarians Without Borders Guatemala Trip 2010 with fellow McGill students, I really appreciated what it was like to be part of a close-knit group of incredible individuals who all share a passion for libraries. Everyone displayed such a strong desire for the library project at Asturias Academy to be successful and we all worked very hard together to develop recommendations and library standards based on the school’s objectives and resources. In addition to the library project, we all bonded as a group while having somewhat crazy but fun experiences travelling around Guatemala. In the last few days of the trip someone mentioned how wonderful it would be if we could develop a form of telepathy amongst the group members. He mentioned that since most of us were going our separate ways after the trip, it would be great if when we encountered problems in our library careers we could simply close our eyes and contact someone telepathically to ask how they would handle a certain situation. Like many ongoing jokes that developed during the trip, we referred to this idea of group telepathy quite a bit. Despite our great plans for telepathy being unrealistic and likely be replaced by other means of communication (email/instant messaging/telephone), what I really love is the idea that due to this bond that I’ve developed with my McGill classmates I know we will continue supporting each other as we begin our careers and beyond.
The friendships that I have developed at McGill mean that I can now share the highs and lows of a career in libraries and seek advice from graduates who work in various positions from Montreal to California to South Africa. I also applaud two classmates who will shortly begin their PhDs at McGill; I completely admire their further pursuit of academia, who knows in a few years I might want to join them!
McGill’s MLIS Graduation is June 2nd and although some students have already left Montreal to pursue new jobs and projects elsewhere, I’m very excited at this chance to get together with so many of my classmates before we all go out into the real work world.
Last year, when I was still but a lowly first year MLIS student, I watched with keen interest as a few of my friends in second year succeeded to secure interesting library jobs before their last semester of the MLIS program was even finished. This year, it is (I’m keeping my fingers crossed) going to be my turn. For the past year, I have been checking out job postings through Library Job ListServs as well as consulting the websites of various professional associations to see what type of positions are posted and how often. It has been very valuable for me to get a sense for what type of job market is available for recent MLIS graduates and the qualifications required for various advertised positions. In January, I started to see a few positions that really interested me and although I only finish my MLIS in April, I hoped that it wouldn’t be too soon to start applying. In order to revamp my C.V., I made an appointment with a consultant at the McGill Career Planning Service Center. Although, I was disappointed by her general lack of knowledge regarding the variety of career opportunities for this degree, she did provide me with basic formatting tips to create a more eye-catching C.V. I also had a friend and my professional partner from the CLA Student Chapter’s Professional Partnering Program read my C.V. and my cover letters to give me concrete feedback on whether they were well written and of potential interest to future employers. I am happy to say that the hard work I put into job applications has paid off and I have been offered three interviews for different positions.
Yesterday morning, I experienced for the first time an hour long phone interview. Phone interviews are difficult because you cannot read the body language of the people who are interviewing you. You cannot tell if they are smiling or scowling at your answers! Because I had no visual cues, once I finished giving an answer that I thought was of an appropriate length, I asked them to confirm if I had provided them with enough details. I did not do this for every question because that might have come across as insecure, however, sometimes I felt that I needed a verbal confirmation that my answer had not been off-track from the type of answer they were looking for!
My phone interview was fairly straight forward. They asked me typical questions about my experience “Name a time when you had a conflict with a supervisor and how did you deal with it?” as well as hypothetical questions of how I would deal with certain situations, ex. “A patron complains to you regarding a certain book that they feel is inappropriate for a public library. What would you do?”. This type of questioning does not bother me; I thank my mom for signing me up for acting classes when I was young because having a background in Improv acting really helps you learn how to think on your feet during an interview! However, interviews are not always that straight forward. In the past, I had an interview where I needed to write beforehand a 3 page paper on the Google Book Library Project, I’ve had to write a test with both short-answer and a longer essay question, and I know that it is common for librarians to prepare in advance a short presentation on an assigned topic. All of these additional requirements can add stress to an already stressful situation! I’ve already been warned that I will need to write a test for Friday’s interview so we’ll see how that goes… but I’m really interested in the job I was interviewed for yesterday so I hope that I hear back from them soon!