As I walk around networking events (especially at first when I knew no one) I find there’s a distinct separation between the students and new graduates and the more established, experienced library and information professionals. The experienced professionals tend to break away from the whole group and have their own discussions, and the students and new graduates are left wondering how to enter “the circle”. There are only a few experienced professionals who dare mingle with the students, new graduates – newbies to the profession. I am very grateful for these people because without them, I wouldn’t have received the encouragement and support I’ve needed to progress with my career and professional development. It is rather unfortunate that there is only a few who are willing to help out those needing a boost into this (very) networked profession of ours.
I witnessed a completely different scene at a recent event I organised, as part of the ALIA New Graduates Group – Resume Reviews. The basic concept is experienced professionals generously donate their time to provide feedback and advice to students and new graduates about their resumes. I recruited three experienced professionals, called for resume submssions, then created a schedule of appointments. At the end of the appointments, attendees came together for a chat.
The difference between this event and other New Graduates events was that it brought experienced and new information professionals together. What I saw was an opportunity for experienced professionals to get excited about the enthusiasm and dedication new professionals were bringing to their careers and the future. There was a sense of collaboration and ‘working together’ between this mixture of information professionals. It was inspiring.
Experienced library and information professionals need not be threatened nor discard new professionals because of a perceived lack of knowledge and experience. New library and information professionals have what it takes to move the profession forward. Experienced information professionals just have to trust us. We have ideas. We are passionate. And we are able. Let’s talk. Together with experience, ideas and enthusiasm for the future, the profession may be strengthened and equipped to take on challenges it currently faces.
Let’s bring down our forts. New library and information professionals are just as scared, if not more, of experienced professionals, than experienced professionals are of new ones. Trust me.
So at your next networking event, think about those experienced professionals who helped you get started. It’s time to pay it forward. Walk up to that nervous library student in the corner and say ‘G’day’. I’m still very new to the profession and I try to include newbies into conversations. You just never know where it may lead. Let us build trust, learn from each other, because we all have a common goal and passion. Find that common ground.
Dialogue. Conversation. Sharing. Collaboration. We need more.