Advice for new MLIS grads

Encouraging words for your first librarian job

MLIS graduate
MLIS graduate

Congratulations! You’ve earned your MLIS degree.

Beginning a career is an exciting yet daunting concept. To help you navigate the transition from student to working professional, we asked LAC Group librarians to share some advice based on their experiences, explaining how to stay confident and open-minded while working towards your personal career goals.

Be open-minded about what an MLS degree can do

It’s ok to go out of your comfort zone and apply to a variety of positions and try different industries, as a challenging work environment affords you the opportunity to learn and grow. Most importantly, be open to any opportunity that will give you that important “first job” to launch your career.

Once you’ve worked in a particular type of librarian/information professional role and have gained some experience, don’t be afraid to try something different. With the flexibility of an MLIS degree, you can be a law librarian, an academic librarian, a public librarian, a medical librarian, researcher, metadata specialist, archivist and more. 

Focus on technology

The library profession is evolving with new technologies, and staying abreast of these trends will help you develop your career. Figure out which technologies are popular and necessary in the field of your choice and make a point to learn them and list them on your resume. This includes specific research databases, Integrated Library Systems, cataloging systems and more.  If you discover new technologies that you didn’t learn in school, look into webinars or other training programs to become familiar with them.

Gain experience any way you can

While you may be focused on securing a particular type of role with your MLIS credentials, be flexible. Any type of information professional role allows you to gain experience, and your first job is very unlikely to remain your only job. The skills you learn at your first professional role will be transferable to any other job in the future.

Man taking notes

If finding a full-time job is challenging where you live, be open to part-time and remote positions, as well as moving! If you can take a part-time role and are successful, chances are likely that if a full-time position opens up, you have a good shot at transitioning to that opportunity.

Understand your skills and strengths

Knowing your strengths can help you target your experiences towards certain librarian roles. During the job process, you can match the job roles and responsibilities to your past experiences and relevant skills. If you are short of a requirement, you can also relate similar experiences that can bridge the gap and let the employer know that you are prepared for that responsibility.

Establish yourself online

Have a polished LinkedIn profile, including a professional headshot, and actively share and publish relevant posts on the platform. Focus on topics related to information, libraries, databases, etc. Doing this will get your name out there and help you develop your personal brand as a knowledgeable information professional.

While you’re in LinkedIn, you can also take the opportunity to connect with other industry professionals. Establishing new connections and joining professional groups will allow you to monitor industry trends and receive peer-to-peer advice from them in current and future job searches.

Know your value

Although you should keep an open mind about job roles, recognize that you have worked incredibly hard to obtain your MLIS degree and gained so much experience along the way. Know the monetary and professional value of your skills and capabilities. Also, keep your motivations in mind when looking at job opportunities and consider how and if a role will get you on the right path toward attaining your career goals.

Embrace and learn from rejection

Even if you don’t land a particular job, interviews and phone screens are always worth the opportunity to practice. Accept every opportunity you can and be graceful in the face of rejection. Thank the employer for their time and ask that they keep you in mind for other opportunities for which you may be a better fit. Build bridges, don’t burn them.

Katy Davis

Katy Davis

Katy is responsible for supporting LibGig's recruiting department and recruiting for library and information management positions in the legal, federal, media, corporate, and academic sectors.
Katy Davis