How do I get into it?
Chartered Institute of Library and Information Professionals (CILIP)
The leading body representing the information professions. Their site includes
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Information on academic, vocational and international qualifications.
MA Information Studies (2010)
BA (Hons) Cultural and Historical Studies (2005)
As an undergraduate I spent loads of time in the St Peters House Library. It was near to the Phoenix nursery, where my son was and I felt productive there.
Doing the MA then seemed a very natural choice, but getting a job was tricky. I volunteered at a library whilst doing my course, in fact I changed my course to part-time so I could focus in getting some experience. I also applied for bursaries/sponsored places at professional conferences. This gave me lots to talk about in job interviews.
Also, I got involved with the professional organisation for librarians, CILIP, as a student member with a discounted rate. This was a really good experience and was great for networking. I eventually got a para-professional job at Sussex.
When a job at the hospital later came up that I was really interested in I had a lot of support from that network. I was successful in my application and now work as at the Brighton and Sussex University Hospital Trust Library as a clinical librarian. However, looking back, getting the job involved a lot of asking for chances, giving my time and energy away for free, and trying out different roles to find one that suited me
In my current job I liaise directly with clinical teams (doctors and nurses) at their point of need (in the wards or at clinical meetings). It is a brilliant job and I love it. I work with smart and motivated people and it is very rewarding. The expectations are high and things can be very stressful but I like to be busy.
The Masters qualification was essential in getting my job, so the University enabled me to get into the job that I wanted. I had some very supportive lecturers that taught, encouraged and advised. The libraries there are great too, lots of resources and lots of good workspace. And the nursery was brilliant!
As for the actual content of the MA, all the theory actually has come in handy. It can be hard to believe that until you start working and calling on that foundation of knowledge. There were also a lot of outside speakers (often practitioners) that would come in and this was really insightful in terms of what it was like outside of the classroom.
I feel like I worked very hard as a student parent and then also to get the job I really wanted. The recession and budget cuts have posed a big threat to both libraries and the NHS, so I’m focusing some energy on ensuring my job is secure. However, there is still a lot of scope to move up professionally which I aim to do in the future.