Navigating a career path and coming up with a flight plan can be difficult for those new to the information professions. There are many possibilities and even more ways to get there. My last couple of blog posts have focused on career planning for newbies. I’m by no means an expert, I only share my own experiences and tips about developing a career statement and my personal professional development plan for the next two years. Both I’ve found to be valuable exercises.
After taking a look at popular posts I’ve written here, three others on this topic may also be useful. I thought I’d bring them together for you.
A career, professional ‘self’ or identity can be put together by connecting ‘Lego’ blocks (knowledge and skills). Over time, a structure or a completed picture forms that is unique to each professional. This is what differentiates one professional to another.
So, take your career statement, then identify possible sectors you could pursue to fulfil your “mission”, then the skills and knowledge you might need. If you have an opportunity to be mentored, awesome. Do it. They can help put your building blocks together by being a sounding board. A mentor can also help guide you through all the ‘cool stuff’ that comes up and filter the ‘nice to knows’ from the ‘I need to focus on this right now’.
You’ve started your library course or you’re maybe looking to learning more about another sector. What resources and tools will you need for your learning? Perhaps you’ve signed up for Twitter, trying Feedly, signed up for another web-based tool which seemed useful a few months back? It’s time to think about the combination of tools that will be most effective for you. It’s time to tidy up all these things to help streamline your information feeds. I’m due to have a review of my PLE myself. The methodology isn’t perfect, but this post’s key message is to ensure you regularly check your collection of tools so they continue to work for you, not against you. I know my needs and ways of thinking and doing stuff changes over time. This may be true for you.
Among the most valuable things you can do as a new information professional (I’ve found, at least) is to start thinking about your personal learning network (PLN). A PLN is the human component of your PLE. In 2011, I undertook an independent research project looking into the theory of connectivisim and developing a personal learning network. I presented my findings at the 5th New Librarians’ Symposium. My paper is available online, if you’re up for a sticky beak.
During this project, I came across some great starting points for developing an understanding of PLNs and how they might contribute to your professional development and establishing connections in the information professions. There are probably more up to date resources available since this post, but these will surely provide the basics, as well as identify some key authors in this space.
I hope these posts about career planning and professional development help those just starting out in the information professions, or indeed anyone seeking for a bit of (re)direction.