Preparing for One’s Future: Activities for Creating Lines on the Resume

By Dr. Loriene Roy

During this extraordinary time of the COVID-19 pandemic, it is essential to remember that students are still enrolling in graduate schools of library and information studies and continuing their studies. In the mix of this complex learning environment, students are not only attending to their course requirements, but they are also preparing, from their first day of class, for their job search. Students are understandably worried about how the pandemic is affecting the job market. Students want their resume and cover letter to be intriguing enough that the potential employer will invite them to an interview.

This article provides students with advice on action that leads to new or additional lines on their resume. Given these days of Zoom fatigue, these suggestions are optional activities. Hopefully, incorporating one or more of these actions might contribute to students’ sense of completion and satisfaction.

First, students should reflect on what they have accomplished and where they might turn next. The following questions will help students start to identify what they might add to their resume. 

  • What have you created for a class?
  • What is your special gift?
  • What do you know?
  • What do you want to know?
  • What can you share? 
  • What can you teach others?
  • What are your opportunities?
  • What is the timeline?

Once students have answered these questions, they can move to actions to join, participate, share, understand, advocate, watch, learn, and tool. 

Join! Participate! Showing membership in a group is worth documenting on a resume. Students are usually members of one or more student organizations within their college or department. They might join a university group or consider membership in a local, state, regional, national, or international organization. Membership is the easy extra line on the resume, and students may take advantage of student membership rates. Student involvement in their selected association does not have to stop with membership. Students can examine the association’s website to locate how to volunteer for service through committee appointments. Many associations have a committee appointment process that includes completing an online application by a specified date. Within the American Library Association (ALA), this involves looking at ALA and Council Committees, ALA divisions, roundtables, and organizations affiliated with ALA, such as the American Indian Library Association. 

Share! Speak! Students generally have accumulated a personal collection of written papers and have acquired skills. They have shared their work orally with classmates and professors. They could continue to share what they have learned by giving planned presentations to their student body, incoming or prospective students, alumni, and practitioners. They could join other classes as guest lecturers or produce tutorials that their school might access through a website. Students might also create new spaces to share through podcasts and webinars. Students can seek additional opportunities to speak through their association membership benefits. Besides solo, one-person speaking options, they might seek information on how to participate in panel presentations, poster sessions, and less formal opportunities, including Battledecks. 

Share! Write! By the time they graduate, students usually have written numerous class papers and, sometimes, even a master’s thesis. They can edit this work for submission to publications such as newsletters or journals. Those who might want to write reviews of books or other sources can check the author’s instructions for reviewing sources. By joining organizations, students might receive calls for papers that invite the submission of proposals or full manuscripts. If they are a little timid about the submission process, they could ask another author, such as a classmate, to co-write the manuscript. 

Understand! Advocate! Each person in the field of librarianship should know about diversity, equity, and inclusion. When applying for a position, students might need to provide written responses to questions about diversity or answer similar questions orally during an interview. Students should seek out ways to learn more about these issues and document how they went about that. 

Watch! Learn! Students need not leave their interest in learning when they graduate. They should continue to be aware of the issues impacting libraries. They can receive updates through social media and publications. Students might not have seriously considered pursuing a doctoral degree, but this may be an excellent time to do so. They should examine the websites of programs, focusing on the program’s strengths and application process. Updated/new GRE scores may not be required during this time, otherwise graduating students may have GRE scores recent enough to submit as part of their application. Doctoral degree-granting programs may have details on their websites about available financial aid, and some guarantee several years of financial support to students admitted into their doctoral programs. 

Tool! Before they graduate, students should review their acquired tools to assess where their gaps are. Early in their programs, they should find out what their senior classmates are doing—their classes and the products they are creating. If students complete a capstone or culminating project, all students should try to examine the end products. They can ask their classmates how they learned to produce the content they are sharing. Students have access to university-sponsored training that teaches tools and processes to create digital humanities space, open education resources, and data maintenance. Their university might offer certificates on topics ranging from user experience, data management, and diversity. Students should prepare to work on group projects for the rest of their careers. To contribute to good group activities, they should learn what they can about project management and learn parliamentary procedures to help groups achieve their goals efficiently. 

Our field of librarianship attracts life-long learners. Among them are our current students who will face entering their careers with challenges. They have continued their studies with aplomb and, perhaps, being a student provided them with some security. There are many actions they can take while they are students that will serve as the bridge between this time and their entrance into professional librarianship. We, their larger community, stand ready to welcome them, to continue to learn with them, and to applaud their resilience. 

Dr. Loriene Roy, Professor, School of Information, University of Texas at Austin, is Anishinabe (Minnesota Chippewa Tribe, White Earth Reservation). She is a Professor in the School of Information at the University of Texas at Austin. She was the 2007-2008 President of the American Library Association.