Thursday, June 7, 2012

Awesome Alumni Interview: Sandra

Sandra started her academic career in 1997, at a community college earning her AA. Afterwards, she attended Temple University for her B.A. from 2003-2006. In 2009, she earned her MLIS from Drexel University. She volunteered at local historical societies and Drexel's Hagerty Library, but "life" made it difficult to continue volunteering to gain experience. She felt driven to succeed in librarianship because "all I had was a dead-end job and 20 plus years with customer experience, a willingness to learn, and the desire to do something more with my life."

What is your current job? I am about to start a new job as a Librarian in a Saudi Arabian university, Prince Mohammed Bin Fahd University (PMU). I resigned my position as a Content Management Analyst at NASA Center for Aerospace Information (CASI) to accept this position. I was a contracted employee for Chugach Federal Solutions, Inc.

How did you find your job? I found my job at CASI through a follow student. I found my job at PMU through one of the listservs that I am on.

What does your typical day look like? Is this what you expected when you took the job? 
Since I have not started my new job I don’t know how to answer this yet.

At CASI, I mainly dealt with electronic documents which involved in putting the basic information (i.e. title, pub date, color or black/white figures and/or images), cataloging, and document evaluation. I also uploaded videos to CASI’s page on You Tube. I corrected metadata on the CASI’s database.

I had many areas that I was not happy with my job but with that said I also gained a lot from working at CASI for two years. I became more competent with the work that is done in the “background” of the library. It was a great job for me because I had no library experience and with that issue and just finishing grad school, CASI worked for me.

What do you enjoy most about your job? 
I enjoyed when I was able to work with older NACA and NASA documents.

What are some of the common misconceptions about your job/your area of librarianship? 
One misconception is that you will find your dream job within a couple years of receiving your grad degree. You have to be willing to think outside of “your box” or comfort zone. When I went for the job as CASI I had no science/technology background. This job was very outside my comfort zone and “box” and it turned out to be a great starting point for me.

What was the most valuable thing that you did or learned while in library school? 
Reaching out to professors and asking them for help.

What inspired you to choose this career? 
There was an article in the Philadelphia Inquirer about how the library field was going to open up in 2010. Well, we all know that that did not happen.

I loved libraries, books and researching. I can remember going to my public library and spending many hours there. Even when I was getting my AA and BA I would love when I had to do a 30 page research paper. Having to go through the stacks to find the one obscure book with that one fact is what I love.

What do you wish you had learned more about? I wish that I had taken a grant writing course. I did not feel that the grants that I did in a couple different classes represented how a “real” grant is to be written. There were some other classes that I wished were different, but it has been a few years now that I can’t remember how and which ones I wanted to change. I also wish that there was a way that I could have gotten some hands-on time at the library.

Any tips for current students? 
Try to connect with a professor that can become your mentor.
Try to get involved with associations and reach out to someone if you are not sure how to get involved (I wish I did).
If you are able to relocate then you might be able to find a job.
Think and look outside the box and your comfort zone.
Don’t be afraid to reach out to the person who might be doing the hiring. I emailed my boss at CASI to ask if I should even apply. I explained my experience and how I didn’t want to waste her or my time.
You never just know what could happen.

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