The New Professionals Information Day started well for me with no transport issues (a miracle) and many many cups of coffee. As new professionals support officer for London and the South East, I really try to get to these things as often as I can so people know where to go. Also I am a new professional myself so they are often personally beneficial too.
The day started off with Steve Clarke who works in sales and told us that we do too. I must confess immediately that I have no patience whatsoever for blue sky thinking type gibberish and the second I saw that Steve had a ‘mantra’ I was annoyed, by the time that I read it was “it’s your attitude that determines your altitude” I knew that I was not his target audience and that I would not be able to sit through his talking without becoming very annoyed. I was right. I think someone so completely unrelated to the library world was an inappropriate person to have at an event specifically aimed at those new to the profession even if his tips might have been useful to more senior people however, about half of those I spoke to seemed to like his presence so I may be in the wrong here.
Steve used an extended flight metaphor which seemed to confuse a number of those with whom I later spoke but what it really boiled down to was that you need to aim right. He suggested finding our niche, setting specific goals, developing oneself, and expecting the unexpected.
The next session for me was ‘Getting a job’ with Alex Wilson-Campbell which swithered between being too basic and too advanced. An example of the latter was talking about budget experience. Now few new professionals will have this in a work context unless they are a solo so it was a pretty pointless thing to say. If, however, he had said become treasurer on a committee to gain budget experience that would have worked better for the audience. My back was also put up a little by the fact that he kept reading out exactly what was on his slides and in so doing completely putting his back to me. He did have some interesting ideas about keeping an eye on the hidden job market by using alerting services which might not work but sounded very promising. Most of the session was as you would expect so tailoring your skills to the employer’s needs etc. Overall, a useful session but perhaps more tailored preparation next time.
My next session was about International stuff with Maria Cotera. Maria was on the CDG L&SE committee with me for a few years so I knew part of her story but not all. I’m not particularly interested in international stuff and unlike almost everyone else I spoke to I did not come out inspired but it was fairly interesting. I didn’t have much to say about this session except that transferable skills are important, you need to show how attending professional events benefits your organisation and you must persevere. Maria mentioned during this session that there is womens interest group in IFLA which I don’t approve of as I think it is divisive having groups split down sex or race lines but who knows, maybe again I’m not up with current thought on this one.
After lunch, I went into Bethan Ruddock’s session which, for me, was easily the best of the day. She ran through her own fairly impressive career and then asked us to consider ours.
She asked what professional involvement we’ve tried, what worked and didn’t and any positive or negative experiences:
So I am on two CILIP committees, CILIP in London (my branch) and Career Development Group London and South East Divisions. CDG is national but split regionally and I am on the regional committee. I am also a London Information & Knowledge Exchange host which basically involves going to the events (which I was doing anyway) and pouring wine. I really like LIKE and particularly pouring wine gives me a reason to talk to people and something to say which I sometimes struggle with. I made the decision that when I joined the profession I was going to attend as many events as I could and read as much as I could. The first few events I attended were quite hard as I knew no one and I’m pretty shy so I found it a real struggle. Perseverence paid off, however, and after a few events I started to get to know people and I could find somebody to talk to. It has now got to the point that at almost every event I go to, I know at least one person and generally quite a few people. I’m on twitter which I’m still unsure about and I blog (as you can see) which is a real struggle for me as I find it quite hard to write eloquently without takng forever over it! I subscribe to numerous blogs and am a member of SLA, BIALL, CLIG, CILIP, LIKE, NGLIS and TFPL Connect whose events I attend and literature I read. I also go to other events such as Gurteen Knowledge cafes. I’ve been to a few conferences, mostly on bursaries and have had a few bits and bobs published – conference and event write ups mostly but I’ve been quoted in Update twice which I was very excited about. What works for me is pretty much just forcing me to go to events even when tired or busy. I try to spend my commute and lunch times on professional reading so it doesn’t cut into my life too much! Negative experiences are mainly just being too shy to talk to people or having nothing to say and the rare person who irritates me (not being sarcastic – I’m easily irritated but librarians are usually nice, just a handful of annoying ones so far!) Positive; almost everything really. I like librarians, it is all interesting stuff and I feel like part of something!
The next part of the session was around barriers to professional engagement. Unsurprisingly these were time, money, confidence and laziness. Time and money are obviously difficult ones but you can get bursaries and go to free or cheap things especially in London. I do spend a lot of money though and even if I could go to everything, stuff clashes. Confidence is also a very difficult one. I try to fake it but it is hard to do and in forcing myself to speak, I sometimes speak over people or come across as brash which is just the kind of person I don’t like. I’m trying to get a balance between my natural self who would be sitting at the back making notes and not contributing and butting in too much. It may take a few more years!
The part our group discussed was about the future of the profession and whether it is possible to prepare for the future. We agreed it probably wasn’t but thought that just being open to new ideas, learning little bits of new stuff on an ad hoc basis and being involved were probably the best chance we had. We thought that online and offline support was available through professional bodies and sites like LISNPN and twitter. Bethan then made us write down a professional development resolution and put it on the wall. I was struggling to think of anything because I think I have enough on my plate but I decided to put down the CPD 23 things (along with a lot of other people).
The final session of the day was with Lyndsay Rees-Jones talking about her career which was really interesting. We got into groups to discuss how to gain and use experience which was less fun but fairly useful.
I’m sorry this has been a little patchy and rambling I made my notes on the basis that I’d have all the slides but the pack still hasn’t been sent out so I haven’t got them yet.