I recently attended ALA's Virtual Student Town Hall meeting, where ALA's current president Maureen Sullivan and president-elect Barbara Stripling spoke to, and then fielded questions from, library students across the country. It was the first of hopefully a series of these virtual meetings, and I found it to be very informative and worthwhile. Here are the top five things that I learned from tuning in:
1) ALA has a number of student and recent graduate leadership development opportunities from the Emerging Leaders program to New Members Round Table and upcoming leadership development program, to be announced this summer. All of these opportunities allow for skill development, networking, and great resume builders.
2) Volunteer! I know people say to volunteer all the time, and often as students holding down a (few) job(s), it's pretty tough to find the time to do so. However, ALA's committees offer great ways to volunteer without a huge time or financial commitment (read: virtual). So, look for a committee that you're interested in, submit the volunteer application, and contact the people in charge to let them know that you're interested. You'll meet engaged, experienced professionals as well as newcomers, and gain skills along the way.
3) President-elect Stripling said that ALA is "re-imagining" how conferences are held- they want to get away from stagnant presentations to more engaged hubs of social and academic interaction, where professionals and students can share and spread their ideas. It sounds to me like the types of "unconferences" that are popping up everywhere, including THATCamp. (Note: if you can't afford to attend a major conference like ALA, look into local un-conferences- they are often free, and great places to network).
4)When asked about employability after graduation, both Sullivan and Stripling talked mainly about getting out there, and talking to people. Everyone that you can find. They mentioned it in all sorts of ways- networking, informational interviews, social gatherings, local volunteering, etc. But mainly, they said that oftentimes it's not what you know, but who you know. And as students, we have an incredible opportunity to reach out to professionals for as much information and time as they are willing to share with us- so figure out what kinds of positions you're interested in, what organizations you're interested in, and just start talking to them.
5) Finally, both Sullivan and Stripling agreed that library school programs are seriously lacking in courses on instruction. When looking through our Awesome Alumni surveys, many alumni noted that they were surprised to find out just how much instruction they did in their jobs, and wished that they had learned more about it while in school. So look for ways that you can boost your resume in this area- look for webinars, internship opportunities (or opportunities within your internship to teach, even if it's not required) and just general reading materials on the topic.
If you missed this webinar, keep your eyes peeled for another one in the upcoming months! We will forward the information from drexelscala AT gmail- if you're not part of our listserv and want to receive our emails, join our DrexelSCALA Google Group!