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Learning from experience
After sifting through the numbers, the real stories of expectations are told through the words of the graduates. Many of their responses read like fortune cookies.
Not unlike previous years, for the graduating class of 2011, there were moments of pure triumph and an equal level of great disappointments. “Think outside the box, practice patience, and be creative” was the recipe provided by the 2012 graduating class as its members shared details about emerging jobs and reformulated job descriptions. Participants cited “too few entry-level jobs” and “lacking experience” as impediments to finding an LIS position. Several graduates recommended “being true to oneself and focusing on your unique qualities and strengths in cover letters and applications” in order to stand out from the saturated pools of applicants.
The lucky 34.2 percent had jobs waiting for them upon graduation. Many started the job search several months before graduation, anticipating the lengthy process of applying for, interviewing, and being offered a position. They also used every opportunity to “network with potential employers,” “[seek]out volunteer opportunities,” and “make friends with their classmates not knowing who might have inside information about jobs.” As a group, they advised future graduates not to wait until graduation to go after and apply for positions.
For other graduates, job hunting turned into a full-time occupation—a period fraught with self-doubt and more than a little frustration. “How do I make myself stand out from an already dynamic pool?” was asked repeatedly. As noted by previous graduating classes, the current graduates once again suggested the LIS professions were saturated and there were few, if any, entry-level positions available. Some had to make a move to an area where the jobs were.
Echoing previous years, graduates found ways to parlay internships and practicums into professional positions. It helped them “connect with other professionals and in finding available positions.” One additional aspect they discussed was that practicums provided access to “mentors who eventually become references for jobs.” The general consensus among the graduating class was that “who you know is as important as what you know.”
Several members of the current graduating class provided the suggestion “you’re going to have to work for a job, it won’t be handed to you.” That means “maintaining a professional portfolio,” “continually building and improving skills,” and “going outside of your comfort zone to develop opportunities.” And the final piece of advice the class of 2012 offered to their future colleagues: “Be creative and think outside of the box. You might have to look outside of LIS to find a job, but it will pay off in the long run.”
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