This year Sam Wiggins, SLA Europe’s president-elect, was recognised as one of SLA’s Rising Stars of 2014 alongside two other young professionals. Sam journeyed out to Vancouver, Canada, to receive his award and also to attend the 2014 conference.
How did it feel to receive the award?
Receiving the award was a great surprise – I initially found out via a telephone call from Kate Arnold – SLA’s president – that I had not only been nominated, but also chosen to receive a Rising Star! It did not feel particularly real at first. I think this is partly due to the title of the award – I don’t feel like a star! It was nice to be recognised within the profession though, especially alongside others who have done some great things so early in their careers.
Once at the conference, the surreal feeling continued. Seeing my face on a billboard outside of the main conference room was particularly odd, as were the many congratulations I received from the other conference attendees. The SLA conference is very different to UK conferences – primarily due to the scale of the event. As a result, receiving the award on stage in front of several thousand people was quite an experience.
You’ve attended the SLA Annual Conference before – did attending as a Rising Star change the feel that the conference had for you?
I think this year’s conference had a different feel to it anyway due to being in Canada rather than the USA. The two countries have a very different culture, and that fed through to the conference. I really enjoyed this year’s conference, and speaking to a range of people who had recognised me from the award was great. It meant that I was able to meet a lot of people from a wide range of sectors and geographies with whom I might not otherwise have had a conversation were it not for receiving the award.
Has the award helped with your career?
I don’t think it has, and I don’t necessarily think it should. I see the award as a recognition of what I have done so far in my career – not a foretelling of what I will do. Simply having received the award doesn’t affect my volunteer work with SLA or my mentoring, although it is nice to have been recognised! The award was recognised in my workplace though – it served as a useful way to help integrate myself into a new position that I started in March this year, and to help win the trust of those who use the research services.
Are you worried that having received an award so soon in your career, are you likely to burn out?
I certainly hope not! At present, I volunteer in a number of capacities because I enjoy it, and feel energised from my involvement. Volunteering and giving one’s time shouldn’t feel onerous. I believe that as long as I enjoy volunteering and giving my time, then I’m not at risk of burning out.