Sunday, 15 January 2012

My first webinar...alternative careers

On Thursday evening 12th Jan, I attended a webinar led by Bethan Ruddock entitled Alternative Careers. This was my first webinar so I wasn't quite sure what to expect and didn't really know what to do. I had an initial panic as the time for the event to start came and went and nothing happened but then, a couple of minutes later it was underway.

While I enjoy my job and the sector I work in I am always curious to know what else I could do with my skills and qualifications and having vowed to utilise my membership of SLA more in my New Year blog post , this seemed like a good place to start. Bethan introduced the webinar by explaining what she meant by an alternative career, stating that anywhere that handles information, and this is a lot of places, needs a librarian. She described her role as Content Development Officer for Mimas and it was very interesting to find out what the job entails. Her role comprises a mixture of teaching, research and using technology - my current role is a combination of all these things too though it couldn't be more different, completely making her point that the skills we learn as librarians are utterly transferable. She also referred to some case studies of librarians in alternative careers, for example, Jo Alcock who works as a researcher for Evidence Base at Birmingham City University. I liked the sound of this as the job entails constantly meeting new people, establishing what the current and future trends are and will be and working on new projects. I think I might miss the training/teaching element though.

Like Bethan (and all the other librarians on Twitter), I am also learning to code with the Codeacademy. While I wouldn't want this to be the main part of any future job, I do agree with Bethan that it will help me to understand how things work behind the scenes and will take away some of the mystery behind it.

She also mentioned how she works on professional stalls at conferences and encouraged the listeners to talk to people like her at these events to find out more about their careers and backgrounds. I've always been too nervous in the past to approach these people as I've not been in a position to purchase anything, or sometimes talk with enough knowledge about the product being showcased, however, with this recommendation in my ears I will endeavour to do this next time I have the opportunity.

Bethan recommended completing a skills audit to establish not only skills and qualifications but also to help decide a future path. The last time I did one of these was for the beginning of my Chartership, and I found this to be advantageous. I think this may prove to be a useful exercise to do regularly perhaps annually or even biannually; it will also help to keep my CV updated.

Another tip I am going to take away from me is to read the job adverts more carefully. I am guilty of often dismissing an advert because it initially sounds too techie or not for me but I will endeavour to be more thorough in the future.

Finally, I was really impressed by the webinar as it not only reminded me of things I should be doing but also gave me new tips to try out and a fresh perspective on the information profession. I will definitely be keeping watch for more SLA webinars and activities.


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  2. Glad you enjoyed Bethan's webinar - I had a look through the slides and it seemed to have lots of really useful tips.

    Interesting to hear your thoughts about my job; you have it spot on (which is great as I usually really struggle to explain it!). I found quite early on that I missed the teaching aspect, which is one of the reasons I now do quite a lot of presenting at conferences and leading workshops - it also helps disseminate our research of course. I don't teach as often as I did in my previous job as an academic librarian but I really enjoy the fact that it is often to different types of audiences so it's a bit more of a challenge.

  3. Wanted to attend this webinar but couldn't as it clashed with something else in my diary, thanks for posting abt it :)

  4. Hi Jo and Cara,

    Jo - glad I 'got' your job - didn't want to do it a disservice! It does sound interesting - I wonder if there's a decent amoutn of work in that field...

    You're welcome Cara - I'm pretty sure there's a recording somewhere - @bethanar will know.