The original premise of this blog entry was to write about how my Fall 2010 internship with Purdue University Libraries led to my current position as Visiting Assistant Professor of Library Science/Data Services Specialist there. It sounds more impressive than it really is – after all, how many people can claim to be faculty at a major research university without a PhD? I am also terribly lucky that I am in the same department that I was for my internship (the Research department) and that in the first 3 weeks I have been assigned to two committees, had meetings with the Dean, and am preparing travel applications to receive funding for my upcoming trips to the Society of American Archivists (SAA) and American Society of Information Science and Technology (ASIS&T) national conferences. On top of that, my research and conference activities are not only encouraged, they are part of my official work duties. In other words, the Libraries are a very nice place to work.It would be a lie, however, to say that my internship was what landed me my job. I was told on my second day that nobody realized I had interned with the Libraries until they read my application very carefully because they had never seen me before. This is because my internship had been a remote one. I never stepped foot on the Purdue campus until my interview. Furthermore, my interviewers were more interested in my master’s thesis and the poster I made with my internship supervisor AFTER the internship was over. So I thought very carefully about how I landed here and came up with this diagram because it would just take too long to explain in words:
The truth is that I met other students who were so accomplished and talented that they scared the living daylights out of me. They are now some of my best library friends, but I was originally very intimated by them. After I met them, I learned as much as I could about ARL academic libraries (UAlbany is one), what it took to have an acceptable resume, and what I would need to focus on for the rest of my time in school. I joined a number of organizations. I got proactive about participating in conferences. I expanded my network by hanging out on listservs. I pursued extra research opportunities. And when my mentors told me stories about the harsh realities of being in the information professions, I listened. Professor D’Andraia would probably say this is the norm for anyone aiming for a job in an ARL academic library. I believe him.In this tough economy, I have been observing my friends and their jobhunts. The ones who were always on the move have snapped up some nice positions. The ones who got into the game too late have been struggling. It’s not fair in any sense of the word because a lot of people get started through luck and then hard work after that. The main things that I would tell any student to do are:
- Leverage your past education and work experiences like crazy. Use them as a conversation starter. Use them to make yourself distinct during interviews. Just really make use of them.
- Go to a conference. Even a small one. Better yet, submit a poster. Just go.
- Join a relevant student group or at least attend their free activities. UAlbany has a lot of opportunities for students in that area.
- Figure out what the job standards are in your area of focus. Read about the latest trends in the information professions. They give you ideas for future jobs and make you sound very impressive to your internship supervisors.
- Finding a job is like finding a romantic partner – you just need to find one that fits you, not five.
Despite all this, I really enjoyed my time at UAlbany and I really do love the kind of work that I’m doing now. I also found many friends and mentors in the Information Science program who thought that way too. In the end, I think the Purdue Libraries sensed that I wanted to like working there, that I wanted to be of service, and that I wanted to get along with faculty there, just like I did at UAlbany. And that, more than anything, probably got me my current job. 🙂
Eugenia Kim received her Masters in Information Science at the University at Albany in 2010.
She is currently a Visiting Data Services Specialist/Assistant Professor of Library Science at Purdue University.