Monday, May 27, 2013

Why MLS Students Should Read Job Ads NOW

I won't be getting my Master of Library Science (MLS) degree until next year. Still, I'm perusing online ads for library and archives positions right now. Why now and not later? To better prepare myself for the job market for when I do graduate.

It's never too early to look at job ads online!
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According to Nicole Helregel, in an article she wrote for Hack Library School, reading job ads now as an MLS student will help in "developing your long-term goals/career path" and "shaping your degree." Knowing what employers are seeking in a job candidate helps me to decide what classes to take so that I can meet those requirements. For instance, a number of archives positions require you to have experience in digitizing materials and have a working knowledge of common metadata standards, such as Encoded Archival Description (EAD). So I make sure to enroll in classes on digital imaging, digital libraries, and archiving practices. I also discovered from reading job ads that many employers prefer that you know a second language, preferably a Romance language like French or Spanish. (Some also ask that you know German.) As a result, I'm seriously considering taking language classes in addition to my library school classes.

Helregel also points out in her article that eying job ads now will lead you toward "gaining valuable experience. The sooner you figure out what kind of practical experience you need, the sooner you can seek it out." She says, "Many students finish their MLIS in two years. That's two years of time you can spend getting in-library experience (whether paid, volunteer, internship, or practicum). Don't wait until the month before graduation to find out that the job you want requires a year or more of in-library experience!" I know from personal experience that hands-on, real-world experience will help you get a foothold in your preferred career field. Right after I got my bachelor's degree, I had a free summer during which I interned full-time in order to get job experience. These days, with a full-time job, I don't have the time to intern but I do have the time to volunteer. And I'm doing just that in order to get the skills that I need to be a viable candidate for a library or archives job.

In addition, reading job ads now can serve as inspiration ("read over your dream job descriptions and think positive thoughts about graduation, your career possibilities, and the dynamic, engaging field that you have chosen to enter"). It's also "a good habit to make!" Helregel says. If you make it a point to regularly look over these job ads, "you'll already be well-steeped in the language, terms, and requirements when it comes time to search in earnest for a post-graduation job!" So true! (Repeatedly seeing the acronym "OCR' in ads got me familiar with the tool of optical character recognition.)

To see Helregel's entire article, "Start Reading Job Ads Now," go to THIS LINK.

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