I had the pleasure of talking on a career panel for SLA's SAAAC. I'm going to write this post in notes format because there was so much info going back and forth that it was hard to write it all down.
You can learn all about me on my about me page, but here's the info on the other panelists.
Susan M. Klopper
- being a librarian is a second career for me - start in art history and went on to get her MLS
- at library school she learned from corporate librarians - because many of her adjunct were working in corporate libraries
- first job at turner broadcasting - learned how to multi-task - think on her feet and ask teh right questions and ask them very fast
- executive director of the business school library at Emory - a great way to use her corporate knowledge in an academic setting
- learned what it meant to be hungry - to learn how to survive day in and day out - in the corporate environment - and that has gotten her where she is today
- lives in south of england and has been running her own info business for 20 years
before that she had 18 years experience in research and analysis - came very much from the researcher side of things
- she still calls herself a researcher - not a librarian
- she's a researcher, a writer, an editor, a teacher, a presenter - she is what her clients want her to be - she'll do it all
Questions & Answers:
How would you start out if you want to be a corporate librarian?
Susan -- if you want to work in a library in a corporation - i would strongly recommend you don't do that because they don't exist anymore. that said there are plenty of ways to add value to corporations with your librarian skills. you won't get your foot through the door if you sell yourself as a librarian or info professional. take your competencies and start knocking on doors and talking to people and selling yourself based on those skills - you'll never find the jobs by looking online - you have to call them. these jobs are advertised.
Attendee -- recommends that student take internships in corporate libraries and then 90% of those students get hired into those libraries (speaker works as a faculty advisor)
What are the keywords you should look for if you do want those jobs?
Susan -- enterprise, knowledge management, -- look on consulting firms sites and look at the words they use
Sylvia -- all the work that was done by the investment banking libraries is now being done by law firm libraries - so look for law firm library jobs
Susan -- take courses on corporate governance if that is the route you want to go
Sylvia -- there is one other area that is very exciting - private equity - you are going to have to sell yourself as something completely different than an info professional if you want a job like that
How do we sell the MLIS degree to these corporations - when we apply against those with MBA?
Susan -- MBA's aren't always the most articulate of individuals - or the best at problem solving, so you need to think about what you bring to the table - in addition to the the fact that you're a librarian (which you have to be subtle about saying). we already know you're smart. we want individuals who are genuinely enthusiastic about what you do and the company you're working for - research the company so you know what's going on with them. be curious. show that you can write and speak well. show that you can problem solve - you can do this as you ask good questions and research the company. and be assertive and aggressive - those don't have to be nasty words - they may be in our profession - but they're really not. stop thinking like a librarian and start thinking like a more rounded individual - who want to bring that whole person and willingness to learn to the organization. ability to work in a team an collaborate
Sylvia -- might want to series of articles - "on the job" in the business and finance bulletin - all the things she does. one talks about starting your own business right out of getting your MLIS
Susan -- being willing to admit that you don't know everything - you want to get yourself into an environment where you're going to learn
Value of SLA to your careers?
Susan -- I'm not a joiner. but i found value in talking to people who had the same experiences and spoke the same language as i did. went to first SLA meeting and was hooked. it was a safe laboratory for me to learn how to speak in front of groups, write, make many friends, find mentors. learned how to be a leader, how to manage. she's a shy person and sla gave her a safe environment to take the risks she needed to grow as an individual, socially and professionally
Sylvia -- SLA is the association she was really interested in as her organization in the UK diminished. the SLA has given her business opportunities and a real network of friends. she works on her own - and she needs and outside network! if you work alone and don't have this you can end up very introspective.
Overall a very good panel, the students were very curious and had some great questions.
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