Congratulations to the 2018 cohort of trainees! After successfully climbing the mountain that is the application and interview process you can survey your future in the world of librarianship and information science unfolding before you. Wherever and whoever you all are I hope you give yourselves a pat on the back. At this point you have probably celebrated in a manner of your choosing and are now starting to wonder what September will bring. Summer has just begun and there a few months of (hopefully) sunshine before you start off on your next career adventure. No two people’s experiences are exactly the same but the trainees here at the University of Essex would like to share a few hints and tips from our time here at the Albert Sloman. Gather round and listen to our hard-earned words of wisdom …
- Find a way to record things you experience
Having a record of CPD (Continuing Professional Development) can be really important, but I would also recommend noting down experiences and skills you learn over the course of the trainee year. There will be a lot to pack in, and it’s important to find a way to record and build on the skills you’re gaining. Whether that’s keeping a diary of events and training or a list of skills you’ve learnt, find a way that works for you. I have a number of different ways of recording my learning and development- in fact, writing for this blog has been one of the tools I’ve found useful. The trainee year will go by very quickly and you’ll soon be finding yourself trying to explain to someone else what you’ve been doing with your time – whether you’re going straight on to postgraduate study or looking for further work. If you have lots of good examples of things you’ve done well, it will help you in the next stage of your career. It will also help you to reflect on what aspects of library and information work you enjoy doing or excel in.
- “What do you want to do next?”
You haven’t even started your new post, but be prepared for this question to come up. It can be colleagues, friends, family – even the crows here at the Colchester campus seem to have a questioning stare.
But don’t worry if you don’t know what area of library work you want to go in to. It’s ok to say ‘I’m not sure’ or ‘I haven’t decided yet’. One thing you will learn is that the library and information sector is vast, and the skills you learn will be valuable in a variety of organisations and sectors. You may have specific goals in mind, if so – that’s great! But if not, don’t think that you have to come up with a 10 year plan. The sector is evolving, and keeping an open mind about your opportunities is no bad thing.
- Get involved
Throughout the year there are various opportunities to travel to other libraries and universities. One of my personal favourites from this year was a visit to the British Library, where our group was shown around by an experienced member of staff who was able to answer a whole range of questions. We have also visited institutions such as the Essex Record Office and other academic libraries. These experiences are tremendously rewarding and have helped me to understand which career path I would like to pursue. So my advice is to get involved and take advantage of these opportunities whenever you can.
- A library’s purpose is to help people learn
It may sound obvious but if (like me) you are new to the world of librarianship then you will be bombarded with new information, ways of doing things and a seemingly never-ending list of acronyms. The good news is that if you are eager to find out how a library works then you are in the perfect job. Whether it’s by organising training with colleagues, attending career development sessions or making the most out of the impressive resources you are now entitled to access through your institution the opportunities to grow are impressive. It’s a cliché but the opportunity is what you make of it and as long as you have a specific target in sight there are often people, facilities and resources to help you achieve your goal.
- Have fun
I can’t think of many jobs I’ve had where I’ve been given the chance to be as creative as in this one. I’m not just referring to creating posters and displays but coming up with new ideas to help publicise events, games, activities for library users and projects to work on. There’s nothing quite like seeing something that started off as an idea in your mind take shape in front of you. Just remember to enjoy the process as well as the result. You have a lot ahead to look forward to!
All the best,
Essex Graduate Trainees.