This post is part of the Student Experience series, which features current and former archives students as they reflect on graduate school, internships, and early career issues. If you would like to contribute a post for this series, please email me.
Guest poster Kylie Casino is a new professional about to graduate with her MLIS from UCLA. Here, she discusses the challenges of being a recent grad looking for work, and everything that goes along with it, but from the particular perspective of a very young professional.
Day one of library school, we learn to refute the notion of the classic librarian: white hair, glasses on a chain, cardigan, khaki skirt, kitten heels, and a grumpy attitude. But alas, this is not the case; information professionals come in all shapes, sizes, and sartorial sensibilities. But most importantly, we span a wide range of ages, from wildly young to stereo-typically old.
I am that rare breed: the painfully young librarian. You don’t find us often; we’re that mysterious creature sleuthing through the underbrush, being chased by the cliché anthropologist with the video camera, slyly avoiding any shot in the daylight. But I’m here to tell you that we exist, and we have particular/unique concerns about making it as professionals in the field of LIS.
The one thing that keeps smacking you in the face throughout library school: getting a job is hard. It’s as simple as that. We find now more than ever that professional positions within LIS are moving toward part-time or term positions. Jobs are competitive and rare; throughout school I eagerly awaited on the verge of that mythical moment, the wave of retirement meant to crash right before I graduated. But that moment is still yet to come, and I am still waiting. Not realizing that this opening of the abyss would take possibly my entire lifetime to arrive, I had only the faintest hope of coming out of UCLA and obtaining a full-time permanent position where I could live out my professional life.
And then year two started, and the job hunt hit me like a truck. Being a young professional was going to be even more difficult than I ever anticipated.
Job hunting is the catch-22 of youth: you need experience to get hired, but you can’t get hired without experience. And not everyone agrees that internship experience is enough. Regardless of the fact that I have two years of professional experience in a special library and one year of diverse work in archives, the simple fact that I don’t have a former career on my resume is clearly off-putting to potential employers. I can hear my interviewers deflate over the phone when they ask about my work experience and I use the word ‘internship.’
It’s difficult not to compare yourself to your colleagues, especially when they’re all more experienced and arguably more successful than you. But when you’re competing for the same positions, it’s downright intimidating. Additionally, being so young, I’m still figuring out who I am and who I want to be. Attending graduate school so young has played a significant role in shaping the person that I am today and the professional that I would like to become.
As a twenty-three year old emerging professional, I am nervous. I’m just simply nervous. Of the positions to which I’ve applied, will I actually get one? Or any? Will I have options? Will I get to choose my future, or be saddled with a paraprofessional position, or a job outside of my field that I am forced to take out of absolute desperation? The truth is, I’m still figuring this out. I’m still waiting for the phone call telling me I got the interview, still waiting for someone to tell me that I’ve made it, or that I’m going to. And with no one waiting in the wings to do it for me, I’m learning that I’ll have to tell myself, be my own advocate, and be the architect of my own future.
Kylie Casino is a native Angeleno and coffee aficionado about to graduate with her MLIS from UCLA. She is a new professional pursuing work in archives, while also obtaining a Professional Certificate in Rare Books and Manuscripts from the California Rare Book School, and will begin pursuing a second Masters in Humanities at CSU Northridge. She enjoys long walks on the beach, pop art, and is a nerd for the occult.