I recently signed up for Char Booth‘s webinar Librarianship as an “Avocational Vocation” – Advice for new professionals. Unfortunately due to a calendar error I didn’t make the live session, but have have just caught up on the recording. I don’t really consider myself a new professional any more, but if you read the blurb for this webinar it says it’s for “anyone interested in the future of libraries”. Well, that’s definitely me.
When I signed up I was in a precarious position career-wise having handed in my resignation with no new job to go to. I’ve therefore been thinking a lot about career paths and progression and was seeking advice anywhere I could get it. Between signing up and the actual event I found a new job. So, my perspective on the session shifted somewhat and I’ve picked up lots of good tips for starting in a new role.
First of all it was interesting to hear Char talk about her route in to librarianship, particularly as it felt like she was telling my story: graduating from university with a history degree, identifying that the research aspect of that was the most interesting and enjoyable, equating that to libraries and information, and as a result undertaking a graduate library course.
Below are the tips I picked up from the session as well as some of my own under four key themes…
This topic came from a question posed by one of the hosts about how new professionals can find it hard to challenge traditions. Char suggested two possible routes:
- inside the workplace; making changes through practical and scalable ideas
- outside the workplace; through advocacy groups and contributing to the professional discourse
The key success factor for both is collaboration.
For collaboration we need allies. Char’s tips for making allies at work, and I think this goes for in life in general are:
- get to know your colleagues informally. Who are they? What do they enjoy? What are their personalities?
- be nice! Manners and sincerity go a long way.
- show yourself to be a good colleague
I would add to this to give the best of yourself. A very good friend once told me that when she first met me she thought I was an ice queen. It was hard to get to know me as I gave little of myself away. With this knowledge when I meet new people now I try to be open and give them the leads they need to get to know the best of me. This will be particularly important when starting my new job soon.
Something I struggle with is developing ideas into output. Here are some great tips for overcoming just that:
- don’t let an idea go at the superficial level – dig deeper.
- put your heart and brain into writing
- take notes on everything you do
- seek to add value, e.g. don’t just retweet, tell us what it means to you. This scales up to extended writing – a lot of professional literature is rehashing what has gone before.
When I first started working, public speaking was my worst nightmare. Everything changed when I discovered that you can’t forget what you were going to say if you don’t have a script to start with. This helps you to get to know your subject really well and to have a natural delivery style.
It’s about confidence and practice: remember you’re not just giving your audience information, you’re entertaining them. What is your presenting personality? My view – be yourself.
Char suggests you conquer your presenting fears by doing karaoke! If you’re not into that, and I’m with you there, try recording and re-recording your practice runs. I’ve written about this topic before in a post on preparing to present.