08 February 2017 | Grads Corner | Guest Author
It’s been nearly 4 years since I started my role as Assistant Librarian at Microsoft and so much has happened in my life both professionally and personally. Personally I’m the happiest I’ve ever been and professionally I’m looking forward to my next challenge.
Last year is probably the best year I’ve had professionally to date. I applied for the Career Advancement Award via the Leadership and Management Group - which is part of the Special Libraries Association (SLA).
This award would pay for me to attend the SLA Conference in Boston June 2015. Imagine my surprise when I won it!
This is on top of me working on my dissertation and moving house etc. It was very very hectic. But I made it work and it was one of the best professional experiences I’ve had. I was able to meet a lot of other ‘special’ librarians’ as well to forge connections and build my network. I spoke in front of rooms of people and it was a wonderful feeling to think that I could add value to peoples’ experience at the conference. I’ve even gained an excellent mentor out of it, who is rapidly becoming an inspiration to me and a constant source of support. As well as confidence – I really feel like I know what I’m doing. Well, most days.
Piece of advice: If you can, find someone to mentor you. Do. This doesn’t have to be someone you work with. But it should be someone in your field with a few years of experience on you.
Essentially someone who can be a sounding board for your ideas however crazy you think they are. Following the conference, I submitted my dissertation to the inaugural LISDIS conference (in 2015!) as well and was chosen to go and present on my chosen topic – ‘How to Measure the Value of a Corporate Library’.
While the conference was small it was a great experience to put together s slide-desk and to present to a room of people I don’t know. As a whole librarians and information professionals have certain stereotypes attributed to us which aren’t usually true. I spend a good portion of my time explaining how someone who ‘looks like me’ is a librarian!
In terms of work, I was trying to think of ways to expand the service that we offer so I created a series of talks and seminars called ‘Learning Live!’ for employees. I imagined them as bitesize sessions that would give people a few key skills to help them develop their soft skills. Note: Majority of people aren’t especially comfortable with talking in front of large groups of people.
Nor are they comfortable with talking to people they don’t know. And also find it difficult to manage their time effectively. If you’re already packing those skills, you’re ahead of the curve. This series has been a great success and has gained me some recognition within the organization. I suppose you could say that I’ve taken my role and expanded it as far as I can. And I’m always looking for new things to do. Always.
The beauty of my role is that I can do as much as I want and I won’t be exceeding the remit of ‘what I’m allowed to do’. Because of this, I’ve attended a course in learning how to code, I’ve volunteered at events and become a larger part of the information professional community. I guess that’s the biggest change since 2012 – I now feel like I’m part of something.
I’ve finished my MSc in Information and Library Studies, as a distance learning and part time course it’s been a very long three years and I’m so happy it’s over. But it’s been worth it. I’m officially a librarian which means that when it does come to job prospects I have something concrete on my CV alongside all the other training I’ve done. Note: Do as much training as you can. Whether it’s a short course, or one-day leadership course if the opportunity is there, you should take it because it all helps. If not create those opportunities for yourself. There are so many free-learning options now thanks to FutureLearn and Coursera.
I don’t know what I’m going to do next if I’m honest, I may stay where I am, but my restlessness suggests that it’s time for something new - however, I’m only going to move on when it’s right, not because it’s something I should do.
Because I know what I want from my career i.e. I don’t want to manage people I know I can be picky. I also know my strengths and weaknesses (although there are probably more yet to be discovered) but that’s the fun of discovering your area, now I get to find my niche.
To read the prequel to Natasha's story, check out her first Grad's Corner installment: A not so typical graduate