My Guide to Job Hunting: Find Mentors and Maintain Relationships with Them

by Elizabeth on December 22, 2010 · 0 comments

in Job Hunting, jobs, librarianship, libraries

As I mentioned before, I’m so sorry to ignore any readers who have come here looking for advice and sympathies on being an unemployed librarian.  So I’ve prepared a series of posts to help guide you down your path of library job hunting. Be sure to check out my other posts in this series, Treat Job Hunting Like Your Job, Get Organized, Diversify Your Sources, and Update Your Cover Letter and Resume Daily.

Find mentors and maintain relationships with them

I’ve mentioned several times that I have wonderful mentors and that they served as excellent beacons of advice during my job applying days.  Have I mentioned that the sole reason I’m in the job I’m in now is because of my mentor? 

In late February, I responded to a post on my school’s listserv from a former professor of mine who was looking for some help with a consulting project she was working on a local hospital library.  I knew I didn’t want to be a medical librarian (ha!), but I needed the experience and the money, so I emailed her and told her I was interested.  Fast forward 3 months and I was interviewing for the medical librarian position.  All because of one of my mentors.  Several people had responded to the listserv posting, but she asked me (and my hospital librarian colleague) because she knew me and knew my work. 

Besides my special library mentor, my other mentors were my favorite professor, the director of my program (I was her grad/teaching assistant), and the librarian at the small library on campus where I was a graduate student employee for a year.  All them proofed my resume and cover letters multiple times, gave me interview tips, helped me through my nerves, and gave me countless hours of advice for job hunting and actually being a librarian.  They served as my references, and because I had such good relationships with them, I never worried that one of them wouldn’t show me in the best light.  I kept them informed of my progress and sought their opinions on numerous occasions. 
I still maintain those relationships.  Whenever I visit my library school’s campus, I make a point to try to schedule a quick meeting or a lunch and we have fairly regular correspondence by email.  By maintaining these relationships, I now count them as colleagues and look forward to discussing our jobs and trading anecdotes.  My relationship with my special library mentor is even better.  She stops by the hospital on occasion, we have lunch every few months or so, and she is my biggest source of help.  Whenever I have a question or a literature search that is extremely difficult, I turn to her first. 
I encourage you to find mentors at library school, your job, your local public library, anywhere!  You never know where a good mentor is going to appear.  Mentors should be more than sources for references and job advice.  They should be professional colleagues, even friends.  Someone to guide you on your path to being a better librarian and someone to help you through those tough moments. 
Do you have a mentor?  While I may not be the most experience librarian, I’m always willing to talk to aspiring and new librarians, so feel free to email me with questions or even just to chat.  My email is lizy1285 (at) gmail (dot) com. 
I hope you enjoyed this series.  Please feel free to leave comments or email me with any questions.  If there is a topic I missed or something you would like to see covered, please let me know!

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