11/10/11 Here is a Palmer graduate’s job hunting success story. Please note what her expectations were right after graduating, and what strategies worked for her.
My name is Flordalisa Lopez and I graduated from Palmer, Long Island University in May 2010. While I was in school, I worked for the New York Public Library for the Performing Arts on a two year project funded by the Doris Duke Charitable Foundation. After my term was completed, I had one semester left of school, which was perfect timing because I had the opportunity to focus on my studies. I was awarded the Institute of Museum and Library Services (IMIS), CUNY Internship Award 2010. I went to Brooklyn College where I completed 120 hours in the Information Services Dept. with Beth Evans, and I also completed another internship at Democracy Now!, an independent news media station.
When I graduated, I had the expectation of finding a job fairly quickly. To my surprise, things did not go as smoothly as expected. After many long hours of submitting cover letters and resumes, and never hearing back from anyone, I started to ask myself, what am I doing wrong? At this point, I asked for help.
Friends who are professionals in the information field like Rachel Chatalbash, Sarah Ziebell and other professionals like career counselors (from LIU), Alice Flynn, Linda Ryan, Deidre Stam, and Diane Goldstein all helped me by reading my cover letter and resume and giving me tips on how to improve them. In addition, I also went to resume workshops. I took everyone’s advice and changed it accordingly. I made a point to try and participate in activities that gave me the opportunity to meet people in the field. I also have to say that I had help from recruiters who focus on employment for Information Specialists.
Working with recruiters from InfoCurrent provided me with my first corporate library experience. I was hired at UBS Investment Bank as a Deal File assistant where I sent records to Iron Mountain. I was initially hired for two months, later it was extended for an additional five months. The staff at UBS was great, and through those connections I was advised to contact Diane Goldstein, a recruiter for BST America. Diane was wonderful; she hired me as her assistant, initially to organize her files, and within a short period of time, she decided to teach me the basics in recruiting information specialists. About two months later I was hired at Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meaghar, & Flom, LLP.
The process wasn’t quick or simple. I initially interviewed for a Reference Librarian Assistant position, made it to the final round of interviews, but did not get the position. Instead of feeling down, this experience motivated me to sharpen my skills in this area. I decided to audit the Legal Services and Resources class at Palmer. About a month or two later a second opportunity opened up at Skadden. It was a Cataloging Assistant position. Ms. Goldstein and Pauline Rothstein encouraged me to apply, and though I was reluctant, I went for it. I even helped Ms. Goldstein find candidates for this position! I’m happy to say that after several interviews, I’m now part of the Technical Services team as a Cataloging Assistant at Skadden. The position could not have been a better fit for me. I work with a wonderful team of professionals, and I’m always encouraged to set goals and continue to grow in my career.
Looking back on this experience I’d say the best way to acquire skills and knowledge is by volunteering, looking for internships, and even working part time jobs or short term projects. Experience, skills, and knowledge will lead you to the right career path.
Networking and networking! I can’t emphasize enough the value of networking. Networking is something that we hear a lot about from instructors, but it’s great advice. Making contacts and seeking out mentors is invaluable. A great tip I received regarding networking is to always have a business card with basic contact information. In addition to this I created a Word Press blog that only has my resume.
So, when you’re looking for a way to get your foot in the door, update your resume, spice up your cover letter and resume, and start networking– after all in order to become the best, we have to be around the best!
Many thanks to Flordalisa for sharing her story and to Alice Flynn for suggesting to post it here!
Ellen Mehling, Director, Westchester Program and Internships