Anneli Sarkanen, Senior Information Officer at Field Fisher Waterhouse and SLA Europe committee member, reviews the SLA Europe event Bridging the Gap at the Internet Librarian International 2013.

On the eve of Internet Librarian International 2013, we gathered to hear three information professionals’ stories of how they made the transition from corporate information roles into roles in the public sector, with vendors, or into academic libraries. With SLA president Deb Hunt chairing the panel, we heard from Geraldine Clement-Stoneham at the Medical Research Council, Fiona Fogden from Linex and Meghan Jones at the University of Brighton.Bridging the Gap panel

I don’t want to go over each of the panel’s career history, but list some points I took away with me from the session:

  • “I can do that!” Take every opportunity you can – you never know where it may lead. This sentiment was echoed by each panel member who took on additional responsibilities or got involved in projects which weren’t in their job description and used those opportunities to fill gaps in CVs and gain experience which would later become transferrable when moving sectors.

  • “Believe in your CV” This is a quote from Cecilia Heyes mentioned at a Women in Science event and worthwhile remembering. We tend to see the negative parts of our CV and can be put off applying for a job which has a number of elements you don’t have. But remember a job description is a wish list! And if you can do everything listed on the job description, it may well not be challenging enough.

  • Now discover your strengths” was a good book recommendation – we can often find weaknesses in ourselves but this encourages us to think of our strengths!

  • Use your network! If you are interested in moving into a new area of information, talk to those in your network in that area and learn as much about it as you can. If possible, talk to someone in the organisation you are thinking of applying to: find about the culture of the organisation as a change in culture can be as much of a surprise as the change in role you’ll undertake.

  • Use your volunteering experience. If you have volunteered for a professional organisation like SLA, this can give you any number of transferable skills; from IT skills, policy writing skills, or budgeting skills you may not be able to gain at your current workplace.

  • Build your reputation. This can be through networking events but also through what you post on (public) social networks or email discussion lists (essentially, think before you post!), or also any articles you may write or events you speak at. Again, volunteering for your association can give you the opportunity to meet others outside of your area and to help boost your professional reputation.

  • Being flexible is key. Your flexibility in positions you take, opportunities you say yes to, variety of locations you work in can all help in moving between sectors. Whilst this can be stressful at times, it can also be very rewarding.

  • Be resilient. For the times when things do not go as well as you’d like, or to cope with unexpected movements (and before you see the opportunity!). One anecdote I particularly liked was from Geraldine from when she played the trumpet in a orchestra. There is no way to play a trumpet quietly, everyone is going to hear you. So don’t be afraid to give it a go, just be brave, play, and see what happens.

Bridging the Gap

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Site last updated February 25, 2020 @ 4:15 pm; This content last updated October 26, 2013 @ 11:17 am