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New Voices Case Study by Luca Filippi

Category: New Voices

This New Voices Case Study was written by Luca Filippi, a current ILS student at the University of Strathclyde and CILIPS Students & New Professionals Community committee member. 

Hello! My name is Luca and I am a student on the MSc Information and Library Studies course at Strathclyde. This is my experience of applying for LIS jobs in lockdown.
A global pandemic is certainly an interesting time to finish a master’s degree. Since the start of lockdown in March, my small bedroom in university halls became the space where I am writing my dissertation, working full-time, and navigated the ILS job market. The real change occurred when I was offered an interview for an assistant librarian position at Surrey and Sussex Healthcare NHS Trust. Suddenly, my room was now also going to become an interview room!

The invitation to the interview was both exciting and nerve-wracking. Health librarianship is a sector I have long been keen to enter, and I have been lucky enough to have had two work experience placements in NHS libraries. I have, however, never felt that being interviewed was a strength of mine. Even more so, having to deliver a seven-minute presentation on Zoom for the interview made me even more nervous!

Preparing for LIS interviews can be tricky, and doing an online interview was a completely new experience for me. My main advice regarding library interviews is to check out the enormous wealth of resources that are available. Did you know for instance that there is an open spreadsheet where library interviewees have posted the questions they’ve been asked? It is also a good idea to think of some good questions for the interviewers themselves – remember you are also trying to see if the role is right for you!

The online interview presented new challenges. My internet connection is often unreliable, and student halls can often be very noisy. One unexpected difficulty was acquiring a webcam as these had sold out absolutely everywhere! Not being able to get one, I had to jury-rig my own solution. I bought a tripod from Amazon, and secured my phone to it using too many rubber bands to count. Using DroidCam, I connected my phone to my computer to use that as a webcam. While unconventional, it worked well and my internet connection thankfully held out.

A real strength of the course at Strathclyde is the requirement to complete the CILIP PKSB as part of an assessment. This not only helped me understand my strengths, but more importantly it helped me to recognise the areas that I wanted to improve in. This proved to be incredibly valuable in the interview as I was able to show how the role connected to my prior experiences.

I was told the same day that I had been successful, and I am incredibly thrilled to begin my new role in September after I have submitted my dissertation. The interviewer offered me the chance to visit the hospital that I would be working in. Conveniently, the journey nicely coincided with a trip I took to see my family for the first time since January. I was excited to be able to see my new workplace… oh, and of course my family too.

I met my interviewers in person for the first time, and I was given a tour of both the library and the hospital. I was impressed to see how well the library was set up to accommodate social distancing. The library was one of few medical libraries that was able to remain open, and it was immediately clear how valued a service it was.
If you are about to start a library course in September, my main advice would be to get involved with some of the organisations in the sector. As a member of CILIPS I had the chance to meet and network with individuals from across the profession. I have yet to meet anyone in the profession who is unhappy to have a chat about developing your career. Never be afraid to ask someone to have a chat!

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