by Molly Hagen, Minnesota Chapter
by Liz Scheibel, Minnesota Chapter, B&F and Legal Divisions
We have found that Information professionals and Librarians are extremely welcoming to and excited for new people entering the profession – everyone wants to help! We are so grateful for the help and advice we received during our school years, and that support continues now as we are both in our first professional jobs.
Everyone wants to help new info pros, but are you ready to help? Do you know what fresh MLIS grads in your SLA chapter and in introductory level professionals in your department need from you? We’re a profession of planners and organizers. Have you planned how you will help new people and gotten your resources and ideas for doing so organized?
As new information professionals who are just becoming “old” enough to look back, here are four ways we believe you can give to the future of our profession:
1. Network with newcomers, over and over again. New people are important! Take some meaningful time to get to know them before recruiting them for something beyond basic membership or simple attendance. Learning about their skills, interests, and goals means that when the time is right, you’ll be able to ask your new colleagues to do something that is appropriate for them – and they’ll be more likely to say yes and do a good job.
2. Be the best mentor you can be. Signed up to be a mentor? Good for you! Your work has just begun. Study up and research it – read about it, meditate on it, talk to others who have done it and find out what made the relationship successful. Prepare like you would for a job interview. (Calling Minnesota Chapter members: as the chairs of our Chapter’s Mentoring Program, we’re here to help.)
3. Help connect classroom education to real world work. A good conversation starter with a student (or someone doing an internship) is asking them what classes they are taking or what they are studying. Keep the conversation going by describing how you use that kind of training or information in your real work. Making the connection between the classroom and what someone in the field actually does is one of the hardest things about making the jump between being a future information professional and a current information professional. Help them connect the dots.
4. Don’t just get them jobs, make them jobs. A key to being future ready is to avoid assumptions that hold us back, and one of the most devastating assumptions we make is that we can’t control job creation. Too often our assistance for job seekers stops at referring them to open positions, helping them network, and, at best, creating temporary positions or internships. It’s a tough economy for new people; many good ones are looking for their first break. Have you ever brainstormed about what you would do with an additional employee in your department? Have you sat down and made the plan – the job description, the qualifications, the proposal to management? Have you ever thought that another area of your institution, or even another institution altogether, could use an information professional, and then tried to make it happen? If you want to help new people in your field, create someone a job. It’s the thing they need the most. Then enjoy reaping the rewards of having a brand new information expert in your midst – his or her energy and fresh ideas will inspire you to even greater heights.
We know experienced professionals in our field are generous with their time and knowledge. Hopefully, these thoughts will spur some future ready thinking and planning on how to put that generosity into action! After all, being future ready means being ready for the future members of our professional communities.
Molly Hagen is the new Learning Center Associate at Thomson Reuters in Eagan, Minnesota. She graduated with her MLIS from the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee in 2010. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org, or on Twitter @mollyhagen.
Liz Scheibel started her position as Librarian at Lindquist & Vennum PLLP in Minneapolis, Minnesota in April of 2010. She graduated with her MLIS from St. Catherine University in 2011. She can be reached at email@example.com, or on Twitter @emcscheibel.
The authors are members of the Minnesota Chapter of SLA and are the new co-chairs of the chapter’s Diversity and Mentoring Committee. They are available to provide mentoring connections to local information professionals, as well as sparkling conversation for information professionals new and old.