Chella Vaidyanathan is in her final semester in an LIS program and has some questions on her mind about opportunities for new professionals.
She writes “I already have two other Masters degrees in Modern Indian History and Modern European History, and I have completed two years of coursework in the Ph.D. program in History. As I was preparing for my comprehensive exams, I had an opportunity in the summer of 2004 to work as an archives intern in an academic library. This was a turning point for me because I realized that I enjoyed working in the library more than teaching. In 2005, I decided to change careers and pursue my MLS.” Now she is hearing that entry level positions are difficult to land, and wonders also whether she may be seen as “overqualified” for such jobs.
My take on this: if you’re willing to be flexible about location, aren’t too narrowly focused in your area of specialization, and if you have taken care to fold some practical, hands-on work into your LIS courses, you will be a strong candidate. Will librarians who have several years experience have an edge? Yes, but that isn’t the only thing we look at when reviewing candidates. One of them, at our library, is how passionate a teacher are you? – so if teaching is not your chosen career path, you probably would want to look elsewhere. (Reading the job announcement carefully is really important! You want to be sure itâ€™s the right match for your interests and talents.)
Other factors that play a role are these:
All that said, landing that first job can be difficult. We’d be interested in hearing from recent graduates, old hands on search committees, and LIS faculty. What should our future librarians consider as they enter the job market? How can we, as a profession, provide entry points for new professionals?