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The four things that got me through my postgrad degree

Category: New Voices

By Amy Pham
Class of 2018, University of Strathclyde MSc Information & Library Studies
amybpham@gmail.com

I am pleased to publish the inaugural article of New Voices, an endeavor to provide a much-needed space for perspectives from postgraduate students and emerging professionals.

While the difficult curriculum of graduate school is frequently referenced, the realities of students—such as time, background, and mental health–are not often directly addressed. New Voices hopes to shed light on these issues and facilitate the transition between postgraduate studies and the professional field. Here are the recommendations I wish I had been given while pursuing my degree.

  1. Using basic benefits offered through my course.
    Resources such as free printing and free software packages, including Microsoft Office, were essential to helping me manage my assignments. I was able to read and print most reading assignments online. In instances where the reading was unavailable, I was often able to find a copy reserved for Short Loan in the library. Additionally, alternative study spaces were available through SCONUL, which gave me access to partner university libraries when I was off-campus.
  2. Using networking to explore different areas of librarianship.
    Speaking to professionals in varied roles helped me to identify potential areas of interest and definite “no’s”. Networking opportunities were readily available in the form of special course speakers, placements, and local CILIP events, and oftentimes, I was able to follow up on these opportunities simply by asking for more information from individuals. Course instructors were a primary source for networking. By expressing my interests to our instructors, they were able to help connect me to relevant professionals in the field who could provide me with guidance and even working experience.
  3. Reevaluating my assumptions about the course.
    I made the early mistake of ignoring the “Information” aspect of “Information and Library Studies”. By broadening my conception of the field beyond traditional library work, it became easier to reframe my assignments as useful, transferable experiences. I was able to think about group work as examples of project management; LibGuides provided me experience with digital content curation; cataloging assignments familiarized me with skills for HTML, system set-ups and configurations, and knowledge management.
  4. Finally, using my voice.
    Participating in lectures gave me a platform to share my experiences and hear varied perspectives in response. Actively and publicly using our voices made it easier for me and my peers to speak out during times when the value of an assignment was unclear or a deadline seemed unreasonable. By being willing to express our concerns, we were able to seek answers and advocate for possible compromises. Especially with the current fluctuation of the library field, contributing to the discussion in graduate school emboldened me to feel like I could equally contribute to current changes in the professional field.

Looking for more recommendations? Check out how CILIP can help you through your student membership. 

For more information about how to submit to New Voices or how to add your voice to our committee, please email submissions@cilips.org.uk.