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3 Tips to Start Your Career on the Right Foot: Working after University by Marta Trogu

Category: New Voices

This New Voices post was written by Marta Trogu, a recent graduate of Information and Library Studies at the University of Strathclyde. She is currently working as a Library Assistant in the Reach Out team at the University of Glasgow Library. 

When I finished my MSc in Information and Library Studies in 2018, I felt ready to begin my professional adventure, eager to put all the knowledge I had acquired into practice and excited about giving back to the library community. My knowledge, motivation, and CV were stronger, and I had the opportunity to gain some library work experience in Gartnavel General Hospital Library and in Maria Henderson Library. I started my first (and current) job as Library Assistant at the University of Glasgow Library exactly two months after my graduation ceremony. Since then, I have learned a lot about front-line library work, and sincerely enjoyed my role and daily work. However, when moving from library education to a customer-service-oriented library role, the shift of perspective is evident. While I had always maintained a wide and holistic view of the profession, soon after I became a Library Assistant, my approach to librarianship had to change. Although a wide perspective is always essential in order to understand the “bigger organism” in which the service you are providing is placed, it is also fundamental to develop a unilateral approach to librarianship and to focus on the micro-environment of your workplace. As a result, if you are starting out your career after university, you might initially feel confused and disoriented just like I was.

Here are three tips that have helped me to balance expectations, training, work routine, and future career plans:

  1. Be Patient

Take your time and slow down. If you are a library assistant, remember that, although it is only the first step of a long professional path, there is no rush. Reflect on what aspects of the job you like and what you don’t like. Reflect on the skills you had when you first started, on those you have acquired thanks to this role, and the knowledge gaps that you want to fill over the next months. This is the perfect moment for self-assessment and goal-making.

  1. Stay Connected

While it is important to slow down, be patient, and focus on your current role in order to make the most out of this experience, remember to stay connected and keep yourself updated. This is a great moment to network. There are many opportunities that will allow you to build relationships and connections with other people in the sector. If you work in academic libraries, SALCTG often organises events for young professionals such as conferences or training days, which are not only very interesting but also perfect opportunities to get together, share ideas, and learn from others’ experiences (if you are interested in finding out more, read my blog about the last SALCTG conference). Blogs and social media (in particular, Twitter) are very useful tools in the information professionals’ community. If you don’t have much time to do your own research to find out what’s happening in the field, following librarians/information professionals’ Twitter accounts will allow you to have a daily selection of insightful articles and posts ready for you.

  1. Stay Focused

Stay focused, be determined, and do not be scared of progressing professionally. Be eager to do more, to learn more, to put yourself out of your comfort zone, and accept new challenges and responsibilities. Every experience, even if small, will help you to improve and enlarge your CV. Remember the goals you set for yourself, and work towards them. Make sure to also set up long term objectives to give a coherent direction to your work choices and excitement about your future. Say yes more, don’t hesitate, and treasure everything you are learning in order to achieve more and more in the future.