On a day that I seem to recall was quite a nice day, actually, I ventured to CILIP Headquarters for their annual New Professionals Day (the day was Friday the 28th of October 2016). Attended by Graduate Trainees, current Masters students and the recently graduated, the day offers many talks about different aspects of starting out and getting going in your career as a Librarian-slash-Information Professional.
Upon arrival, we were plied with coffee and given a bag of information before heading into a room for the opening talk.
We were welcomed, by Helen Berry, CILIP Development Officer before Luke Stevens-Burt, CILIP Head of Member Services, CILIP’s Chief Executive, Nick Poole, inspired us with talks about the profession. Librarians are custodians of awesomeness and the rock stars of the information world, said Luke Stevens-Burt, and we all felt warm and fuzzy inside. More seriously, he talked about how information has evolved but our core purpose and mission has not and highlighted tips for the new professional to help us stand out from the crowd:
— Jane Morgan-Daniel (@JMorganDaniel) October 28, 2016
Nick Poole talked about building our careers in libraries and information management and opportunities for the future (apparently about 45% of CILIP’s membership are going to retire in the next 10 years…). He also looked at how the profession is forming itself as transitions are occurring and we need to welcome, drive and benefit from this change. He asked us to think about why we want to be a librarian and how the answer would sustain us throughout our career and also gave us a list of tips to help further:
- Know yourself
- Be clear on your ethics
- Have a plan
- Invest in your CPD
- Build your network
- Solve problems
- Help those around you and understand and benefit from your skills
- Keep moving (even if you don’t change jobs)
- Get involved
The rest of the morning was spent in two workshop sessions.
The first for me with Tracey South and Jayne Winch from CBresourcing and was all about Tricky Interview Questions. In the session everyone was divided up into groups, with each group discussing a different question from a list before feeding back our thoughts.
The group I was in looked at the question, “What do you know about our company?” and spent our time thinking about the different sources we could use to be able to answer this question. We came up with the website to look at the policies and aims of the company as well as look at its competitors as well as social media. We also talked about contacting the contact listed in the job advert and asking to visit as well as looking in the press.
— Jane Morgan-Daniel (@JMorganDaniel) October 28, 2016
My second session was with Elly O’Brien from the Economist Intelligence Unit who talked about Professional confidence and avoiding imposter syndrome. This was a really interesting talk, which I was most pleased to see on my agenda after missing a similar talk here at City a whiles back, in which Elly first wondered if, by naming imposter syndrome, we helped to create it before discussing why this happens and if, in Britain, it might be to do with cultural factors – especially in the LIS sector.
Lacking professional confidence can have an effect on the development (recruitment and talent), advocacy (we need to get out and shout about it, we are worthwhile!) and diversity (becomes too homogenous if it’s the same people all the time) of the sector (stuff in brackets from my notes which may be why it doesn’t entirely make sense). Plus it is just not nice to feel.
How can we resolve this, though? Elly talked about the help that can be gained from CILIP and informal mentoring as well as leading by example as a way of helping give confidence to those who come after you. She has written much better about this on her blog, so check it out of you would like to know more.
After lunch was a voyage around the CILIP VLE and Careers Hub which was quite interesting, before we broke out to two more workshops.
First was a talk from Sarah Hume of the Royal United Services Institute who talked about making the most of contract positions, such as temping, project and maternity contracts, on which she has spent much of her library career.
She looked at the pros (you can upskill quickly, you get more job variety and it (might) be easier to get jobs (if they are willing to employ someone with not quite all the skills required for a maternity position, say)) and the cons (uncertainty and upheaval, practical considerations such as paying the rent) before going on to talk how you can make the most of your time on a short contract – for example, taking time to settle in before starting to identify opportunities for projects to do and complete during your stay and finding ways to play to your strengths.
Forethought and planning were the watchwords as Sarah also looked it when to move on and the importance of job hunting while you are in the post as, if you are offered an extension, this can come very late in the day.
Another vital piece of advice: Don’t break the job!
My final workshop was with Caroline Carruthers of Network Rail who looked at swapping sectors. Through focusing on what you can do and understanding that all organisations are different but, in the main, the same thing (the same beast, different face), you can find the confidence to swap sectors easily. Each one is a machine and, if you know your purpose and place in it, then you can help run it. An information revolution is happening, Caroline said, and we are important to it as information flow is the lifeblood of an organisation.
Finally, we ended the day by looking at the PKSB but I think I will save that joy up for Chartership peoples.
Overall, this was a rather lovely day at which I learned a lot, caught up with some people, met people IRL that I had previously only known on twitter and others for the very first time.