The end of last semester turned out to be a nonstop roller coaster. Things have finally calmed down, and while I’m not sure how many people still read my blog, there are a few amazing people still out there promoting it in blog posts and on and Twitter (Julia Skinner, Micah Vandegrift, Courtney Walters, Melody Dworak — thank you all!), and I definitely feel as though I owe some explanation of my prolonged absence.
I was planning to graduate in December, and even applied for graduation. I started applying for jobs in August, and I even had a phone interview, which was a nice boost for my confidence. However, I also interviewed for a Student Career Experience Program position (SCEP) at Fairchild Research Information Center, aka MSFRIC, aka Air University Library, which is an academic military library on Maxwell Air Force Base. SCEP is an amazing federal program, and at UA SLIS, we tend to think of it as a paid internship – you get professional experience and get paid for it.
Thus, when I was offered a position, I was VERY excited to accept it. It meant delaying my graduation until May 2011, and moving to a different city 2+ hours away from family and friends, but I knew it would be a worthwhile opportunity. So far, it has exceeded my expectations. I work 40 hours a week with wonderful co-workers who have been SO helpful and supportive. My job is a great entry-level position, and I’m learning so much about the new type of library I’m working in. I know I made an excellent choice.
In addition to finals, security clearance forms, sinus infections, and packing and moving to a new city, I also attended the Military Libraries Workshop as a volunteer intern. This was my first time to volunteer at a library conference, and that was also an invaluable experience. I HIGHLY recommend this to library school students! You will never know if you can volunteer at a conference until you ask, and I got my conference fee paid for! The conference planners made certain that my fellow student intern and I got the full behind-the-scenes conference experience. We were included on conference calls, we attended every session (including the final “lessons learned” session with the conference planners), and we were also responsible for handling the social media for the conference. We posted updates on Twitter and Facebook for the Military Libraries Division of SLA, @SLA_DMIL, and interacted with other conference attendees both online and in person. It was a small conference, and I felt as though I made many valuable contacts, especially the wonderful conference planners.
So even as I update you on my current situation, I cannot stress this enough — library school students, you have to seek out every opportunity you can to gain experience and shine! If I had not decided to find a way to attend SLA this summer, I wouldn’t have met a contact who offered to let me volunteer at MLW. I also met my fellow student intern, the lovely Mallory Ruth, at SLA, and we ended up sharing a room at MLW. I never would’ve believed it in my first semester of library school, but I am a officially a convert — networking, whether in person or online, is everything. That is a lesson I have fully gleaned throughout the past two years of my library world.
In spite of my recent blog and Twitter silence, I have been trying to keep up with libraryland; I just haven’t been a full participant. Now that things are calming down, I’m hoping to reconnect with my fellow librarians. I expect to read a lot of Library Day in the Life entries this week! Read more about why that is such a great resource for library school students here. I am not sure yet if I’ll be participating again this time since I *just* began my internship position, but I am very excited to hear from others!