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Job Search Tips from SI ASB 2007 - Part 2

It's been a while, but it's about time for me to now to give you the last set of information collected from SI ASB 2007. Check out the website for more information on the sites, what students did, pictures, and their post-trip comments.

The following information has been collected from the National Science Foundation, the Brooklyn Public Library, Queens Library, the Museum of Televsion and Radio, New York Public Library, Netaid, and Columbia University Libraries. Unfortunately, because of my schedule, I was not able to visit the United Nations or the Smithsonian National Museum of the American Indian, but if you are interested in information about or an internship at either of those locations, please contact me at kkowatch@umich.edu

At the National Science Foundation – Office of Cyberinfrastructure I got to meet SI celebrity Dan Atkins and also meet with two other staff members. All seemed very pleased at the idea of having an intern there for the summer and was interested in hearing from students about what they might be interested in working on. For full-time employement, NSF hires pretty much only PhD's but others are hired through civil service appointments. I checked out their employment site and there are a few positions on there that may be of interest to HCI and IEMP students.

At the Brooklyn Public Library (BPL), I got to go on a tour of their gorgeous Art Deco central library, which is newly renovated on the inside and under construction on the outside. Brooklyn is a beautiful part of New York that I wish I would have had more time to enjoy. I did get to buy a bagel and a cup of coffee from a guy in a truck while I waited for the library to open, which was an interesnting point of my trip!

BLP is the 5th largest public library in the US with 1500 employees (1000 FT, 500PT) spread out over 50 branches. There are over 100 job titles – union and non-union. The libraries have some great technology systems in place for computer reservations and printing, etc. Clerical staff actaully run the libraries; as a result, the librarians do librarian work (cataloging, programming, etc) – not administrative work. BPL is always hiring librarians and also suggested the Technical Resource Specialist as another related position that might be of interest to SI students. Librarins are hired all over all the time -- check out their employment website for more information. The BPL represenative that I met with suggested that if you are interested, send your resume in even if there is not a position posted. BPL offers up to $100 in reimbursement for interview travel costs and $1500 relocation benefit

Suggestion for SI students interested in BPL:
Should be interested in public library customer services
Prior experience as interns or from part time jobs
90+ languages are spoken at the BPL branches – multi-lingual abilities a plus!
Willingness to work with kids and youth
Lots of programs
Promotion from within – you can move up very quickly
Also many opportunities in non-library work – IT, HR, etc
Different visions, ideas accepted to increase programming, etc

I took the long route to the Queens Library from BPL and got to experience the NYC subway system at its best! At Queens Library, I met with SI alumnus Laurel Sandor (MSI 2001). Laurel, formerly of Michigan, told me that she has had a fantastic experience at QL and that they very frequently hire entry-level librarians. She recommended that you look for Queens at the ALA Conferences.

Summer internships are not routine at QL, but are a possiblity as is getting paid if the timing is right. If you are okay with being unpaid, an internship is even more possible. Contact me (kkowatch@umich.edu) to get contact information. Laurel also shared some great information on the area libraries, so if you are considering moving to the New York city area for a librarian position, let me know and I'll pass on her information.

My next stop was at the Museum of Television and Radio where I had a fun-filled couple hours with Douglas F. Gibbons, (SI Alumnus) Director of Library & Information Services. Doug shared with me some fantastic stories about UM in the late 1960's and early 70's (for example, The Doors played at his homecoming dance his sophomore year -- who would've thought!?) and also more stories about all the cool things you get to do and the people you get to meet when you work at MTR (i.e. Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis, Lucille Ball, and all the national televion network executives!). Anyway... back to business...
It sounds like MTR is a great place to work; hence jobs are hard to come by. However, Doug had some great tips for SI students that are interested in the field:
Volunteer (at WUOM for example)
Be aware of news, journalistic styles and points of views
Take at least one or two (or more) computer classes
Dabble in all sorts of those things —including what you don’t want to do (i.e. cognates) to increase your relevant knowledge base
Get a mentor – a great mentor
Do things you haven’t done before – volunteer to do things you haven’t done or to learn new things or to meet people. (i.e. be a host – greet people at events) – get exposure!
Learn music, history, politics -- interest things that you can talk about with anyone!

MTR has been working to update their technology and getting a new digtial asset management system in place. There are many ideas and many smart people there, but a limited budget. If you want to intern there and you have a good idea or some applicable skills, let me know and I'll put you in touch with Doug.

On my last day in New York City, I visited Columbia University Libraries where I got to sit in on the closing reception for the ASB interns. The project coordinators were all invited and had just wonderful things to say about the program and all the SI students. Columbia University has 25,000 students, only 4,000 of which are undergraduates. It's a gorgeous campus and the sun came out just as I was leaving, so I got to witness it in its glory because it was nearly 60 that day!

The reception I attended turned into a roundtable discussion in which I was able to collect more tips to pass on to you. There are several generalist libraries at Columbia. Sometimes the "librarians" need a specilized PhD to work with faculty and serve their needs appropriately, but it really depends on the area of study and the faculty preference.

Internships are a way to demonstrate ability to jump in and learn, beyond that of classroom experience. Make sure to get a reference from your internships!

Tips for job and internship searchers:
1. Take advantage of professional organizations: set up informational interviews, use them for a targeted job search. Find a regional, state, or national group and make a phone call to make this happen.
2. If you are interested in working at a CUNY library or some of the other city libraries, a second masters is a necessity. (MLIS plus a specialty masters–but it can be in anything).
3. Cover letters are more and more important -- consider yours carefully before you send it. Preparation for interviewing is also very importation. Research and practice!
4. Create a professional voice for yourself outside of your job. Find an outlet for ideas and views. This extends beyond the core library responsibilities and can include teaching, publishing, and involvement.
5. Be proactive and flexible. In NYC, there are many organizations you can get involved in – i.e. NY Archivists Roundtable. Take advantage of such organizations to get invovled, show intiative, and to learn new things.
6. Find a mentor to be a resource and to bounce ideas off of. They can help you generate ideas about your external strengths and what you have accomplished and what is your potential.
7. Determine the type of position or type of institution you want to work in (in the future), then work to gain the skills to make it happen through school and work experiences. Pay attention to qualifications in job descriptions and work to achieve those specific qualifications.
8. Be mobile – geographically, but also among library types – academic, public, special, etc. All experiences can be valuable!
9. Take advantage of grant funded positions – they are limited term assignments but can provide great experience and can turn into a full time, permanent position

After Columbia, I wandered down Manhattan to the New York Public Library. I met with a HR representative there who coordinates the ASB program for the SI students. She gave me some information to pass on to the SI student popuation. SI students interested in FT employment, candidates should go to the website and apply. I already know of a couple SI-LIS students who have had offers from NYPL, so there is already an established recruiting relationship there. There is a range of "culture" at NYPL: the non-circulating libraries are quite different from the branch libraries. So, there is somethign for everyone!

For internships, it’s a bit more informal. Students should contact me (kkowatch@umich.edu) or the Director of the department that they are interested in directly for an internship.

My last visit of the the ASB trip was to Netaid where I got to sit in on Sameer Halai and Cheng-Lun Li's end of week presenations (also where I first heard of Second Life). Netaid is a pretty interesting organization who's mission is "Educating, inspiring, and empowering young people to fight global poverty." Although its not explicit, they are strongly invested in using technology to educate and to fulfill their mission (hence the interest in Second Life). The organization recently became part of Mercy Corps. Mercy Corps is opening The Hunger Center, which definitely will have job opportunities for those students interested in community informatics.

If you are interested in a full-time position or internship with Netaid, check out their website for information, or contact me for more information about an internship if you are inspired and have an idea of a project or work that you could share.

Posted by kkowatch at April 10, 2007 04:57 PM


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