by Rachel Wangerin, SLA Minnesota President
Had someone told me in library school that I would one day go on to become the president of the SLA MN chapter, I would have thought they were crazy. But here I am, 6 years after graduation, doing just that. The main advice I heard, whether just out of undergraduate school, or after receiving my Master’s degree, was network, network, network. So much so that it almost felt like a dirty word. One secret that they don’t tell you is that once you start participating in a professional organization (and I mean participating, not just joining) the networking starts to come naturally. Another secret that isn’t apparent is that participating in a professional organization can add to your professional development every bit as much as work inside your own organization.
I had the opportunity to begin my information career working with individuals with a huge amount of experience and knowledge. I learned so much those ﬁrst couple of years. My boss was very supportive and constantly looking for opportunities for me to grow. During that time, I sat back and let her help direct my professional development. She is the one who recommend my name when the SLA Chemistry Division was looking for a program planner for the 2008 Annual Conference.
As that boss moved towards retirement, I began to realize that there would be no one left to drive my professional development. In school, we are used to teachers and professors telling us what we need to do to succeed. However, in the workplace, that isn’t always the case. We need to ﬁgure it out for ourselves and take the steps that will help us have new experiences and grow. So, I started to seek out ways to drive my own success.
The SLA MN chapter drafted me as I ﬁnished my stint as a program planner to step into the four year commitment that included President of the chapter. As I begin the third year of that commitment, I look back at how much I have learned and am amazed. My conﬁdence is much higher and I have had the opportunity to make connections all over MN and the rest of the world.
While SLA has been a huge part of my professional development, I also do many other things. I monitor numerous blogs and websites for new ideas. I try to attend online and live seminars when they are applicable and available.
While I was very lucky to have someone to direct my early career development, this is not the case for everyone. We are the only ones responsible for our professional development. We have to own it and continue owning it throughout our career. This will help us to be “Future Ready.”
Rachel Wangerin is a corporate, technical information specialist working for a global research and development company.