November 16, 2008
Filling in the Gaps
It's something that's been coming up a lot this semester, so I'd like to address it-advice column style. Here is an exchange I had with myself earlier this semester. I'm happy to say that I've decided to take my own advice, and will spend next semester doing so.
I'm almost done with my graduate program, but I feel that I'm still pretty weak in instructional technology. I don't have any time to take an extra class. How can I round out my skills?
When considering ways to make yourself competitive for the job market, it's important to look beyond the classes you've taken to the grand total of your experiences. You've completed the first step-you've evaluated yourself as a whole and found your weak points-now you have to consider the wide range of resources available to you. Do you know anyone who uses instructional technology in their job? Are you comfortable asking this person for help? (Note: If you have not yet comfortable asking for help-time to get comfortable. Otherwise, you will cut yourself off from a lot of opportunities.)
If this line of thinking does not produce any useful results, start thinking outside of the box. Remember, as an information professional you will often be charged with the task of finding the solution to an information problem-even if you must invent the solution. Do you know of any local institutions that provide these service? If so, time to go in, shake some hands and ask some questions. This industry is full of professionals who are willing to help the next generation. Don't be shy.
In your case, you may want to check any local or academic libraries. Most offer classes and will usually have at least one staff member who teaches at least part time. See if they will let you sit in on a class, or perhaps mentor you for a brief time. No room for an internship? See if they will offer up a weekend day or two-think of it as a no-credit mini-course.
Some day in the near future, a prospective employer may be quite impressed to see how to solved your own information problem. Think of it as an extra coat of shine on your resume. Life favors the go-getter. Now go get 'em!