The SLA Student Night was a great introduction to the Pacific Northwest Chapter of the Special Library Association. It was a fun night of meeting peers and colleagues old and new, and getting to know the local chapter. We also got to hear from a great panel of professionals in the field currently working for library vendor companies. The panelists, representing companies such as LexisNexis, ProQuest, Smartlogic, and Softlink, described what it’s like to work for a vendor company and the many different career paths the MLIS can take you!
The following Thursday, SLA-UW partnered with sALA to host a Conference Prep Panel for the upcoming SLA Conference in Vancouver, BC, and ALA Conference in Las Vegas, Nevada. The panel of four spoke about their experiences as both professionals and students at both SLA and ALA, and provided tips for having a great conference experience. You can watch the entire panel here through Adobe Connect https://ischool.adobeconnect.com/p20phfc98zb/ or take a look at the top ten pieces of advice to take with you to your next conference:
- Attend any and all conferences you can, especially when there are volunteer opportunities available! Conferences show you the breadth of the field and are a chance to discover new interests.
- Conferences are all about meeting new people and making connections. These connections happen anywhere, from sessions to happy hours to the line for the bathroom.
- Branch out! Attend a session you may have not previously considered. You can go to any session that isn’t marked “closed,” so go ahead and try something different. You may find your next career, or at least learn some new fun facts to share with your friends and family.
- Not enjoying a session? Leave! Your time is valuable, and if you are not getting the most of your experience, try something else (see lesson #3!).
- Follow social media, especially Twitter and Tumblr, to hear the latest buzz around popular sessions, speakers, and social events. Conferences often create a particular hashtag, Google Doc, or Facebook group for attendees to follow (see sALA and SLA’s Facebook pages for more info on this!).
- Having trouble picking a session? Find a speaker you’ve heard good things about, or professionals from a library system you’re interested in (see #5 for more info on how you can keep up with other sessions).
- Don’t just talk to people you came with or know. Chat with new people; you never know where it could lead! You will get the chance to meet a wide variety of people you might not otherwise get to meet. Side note: SLA’s “First Five Years” group and ALA’s New Members Round Table (NMRT) are great places to meet recent grads/alums who surely have great advice to share.
- Notice the set-up of session rooms. Round tables mean you’ll be conversing with those around you while rows of seats mean it will be a lecture-style session.
- Its okay to take a half-day or day off from the conference. You may need some time to process all of the information coming your way, plus you may want to explore the city in which the conference is taking place. There will be librarians everywhere you go, so you never know who you may meet outside of the conference walls.
- Unsure of what to wear/bring? Comfort is key! Our panel recommended “comfortable business casual.” Think of how you want to present yourself. Bring a bag, but consider what you would want to carry all day. Lastly, take your conference badge off at social events. A different atmosphere calls for a different way of introducing yourself.
Hope these tips come in handy in your professional development endeavors!