Remember This

It’s been a little while since I was at the School. Thirty years actually.  (I KNOW… I KNOW)  I was going to talk a little bit about that experience, but I am saving those stories for the Reception on Sept.23rd (shameless plug of course, but I am also really looking forward to meeting students as well as visiting with friends and colleagues.)

Why not call this “things your professors don’t really want you to think about, but think about it anyway.”  It will go hand in hand with my little talk next week.

It’s week two this week.  Week one doesn’t look like it’s changed much since I was a grad student.  Orientations, meet the profs, get a grip on courses, figure out your way around campus, and get to know who’s who, all that stuff.

This week?  Week two?  This is the week that perhaps a little bit of panic sets in because you’re starting to get into the course work and you are wondering “HOW am I ever going to get this all done?”  You will get it done.

Remember this – SIM is a professional programme teaching and indoctrinating you in the wonders and techniques of librarianship, information management and all that that entails. Your job is to absorb what you want, and what you need in order to develop competencies so you’ll  be hired in an area of interest to you– if that’s what you want.  More importantly it will give you a set of skills and intellectually thought provoking ideas that you may never have considered until you entered this programme.   And this is the education and learning that a grad school should deliver.  Keep your profs honest and challenge them to deliver on this!

Remember this – I don’t know a single employer who looks at grades.  I really am not as concerned  with straight As, or straight Cs. I want to know that you get how a collection is developed and used, how to talk to a client to elicit the information needed to get what the client needs, or that you understand how to ensure the right meta data is in the records so that information is retrievable.   I want to know that you are committed and interested in your chosen programme. And grades won’t tell me that.   OF COURSE you need and want those good grades for yourself and to be your best.  Going for perfection however, will make you crazy with the workload you’re about to encounter.  And from everything I know through out the past thirty years that has not changed.

Remember this – and don’t get all cranky on me when you read it – when you graduate, you still don’t know much.  You’ll have had two years of theory, maybe a practicum, and may be even some “real” experience in part time jobs, but all that theory really needs to be put to the practical test.  You’re not quite ready to run a library or information centre on your own – experience needs to come into play, as do good work mentors and colleagues from whom you can learn how to be a professional in a work environment.   Now, let me turn this around and let you know that the amount of knowledge that you will have coming out of the SIM programme will be impressive.  And we “seasoned professionals” talk about this all the time – the stuff you will be learning and bringing to our organizations helps the rest of us get up to speed on the  latest trends and ways of doing business- we most certainly need your talents, skills and “new” century knowledge.

So enjoy your two years at SIM; do well, but try not to stress about it much.  Figure out where you want to be, take the classes that will help you get there, and you’ll not just get through it, you’ll have had a rewarding and enjoyable two years that will ensure you want to come back thirty years later too.


  1. Lara Killian says

    Terri, you raise some great points. When I started at SIM two years ago, I was pretty concerned with trying to get high marks. I remember Dr Black mentioning to the class of 2010 quite early on that she had never been asked about grades when giving scads of recommendations over the years. It can be hard to keep that in mind even when you hear it from multiple sources – the director of SIM, a seasoned graduate and employer like yourself, and other profs as well – but grades are really not the most critical thing MLIS students gain through the program.

    Giving a bit of consideration now to where you want to go after finishing the program will make it easier to figure out which courses to take (once that flexibility exists with regard to electives) and also to find opportunities outside of the classroom that will grow your experience in unique ways. Just like we were discussing on the blog last week.

    Hope to see lots of you at the Outstanding Alumni reception honoring Terri on 9/23!

  2. says

    I’ve read this post a couple times now and get caught up on the “you still don’t know much” statement, which as true as it gets.

    I was fortunate enough to land a position within a few months of my graduation from SIM, and although I did surround myself at work with seasoned professionals, information all-stars and veterans of the game so I had colleagues to lean on for support, I was still struck by how much more there was to know. We can learn all about LIS and organizational culture when in school, but we don’t have a chance to experience it until we get out there on a daily basis.

    If there was one thing I could add to Terri’s words about entering the workforce, it would be to be willing to jump into the deep end when the opportunity comes up, but also to balance bravado with humility. Life is always a learning experience, so make a point to find the good teachers in your workplace and make a point to listen to their advice and put it into practice.

    Michael Steeleworthy (SIM 2010)

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