Q: I’m an MLIS student and my concentration is digital librarianship. Online databases and helping individuals retrieve information off of them is the largest interest to me. I’d enjoy helping students, professors, lawyers, or doctors. What type of Information Studies job would suit me?
TA: Now is the time to seize the opportunity. Once you leave graduate school, the ease of free exploration of different areas of librarianship grows exponentially more difficult. It’s an accepted practice to try different things when you’re in graduate school. You’re still learning and in many cases still trying things on for size. In graduate school, you can take classes across the curriculum and you can try different (paid or unpaid) working experiences, all in the effort to identify your area of specialization in the field. It sounds like you’ve narrowed your concentration to digital librarianship, but you’re still working on what type of library might suit you best. I would encourage you to use this time in school to try different working environments to see which challenge and engage you the most. You may also be able to earn course credit for some of your employment through field experiences or volunteer placements through your academic program, which might help balance the work hours with your course load.
Additionally, you should also consider other avenues of learning about areas of specialization, such as informational interviews and networking with colleagues through professional associations. I would also encourage you to join several listservs and follow the conversation. Are you interested in what they’re talking about? Do you have ideas to share regarding their topics of discussion? Do you want to learn more? Job announcements, which are often shared via listservs, are also a great source of information. Pay attention to the way positions are described, to the job responsibilities outlined in the announcement, and to the required and preferred qualifications, and use this information to shape your academic and professional pursuits.