Actually, this is not a terribly difficult question to answer, as I believe I often speak to my earlier self each time that I speak with a mentee. I advise library students to immerse themselves in the profession from day one Learn to think like an information specialist, walk the talk. Taking courses and attending conferences is only part of the larger equation. To become a librarian or information professional means to adopt the mindset of a professional.
Study best practices, adopt them early. Learn to take initiative based on sound fact-finding, informational interviews, case studies and networking. Adopt educational technology and promote its use. Learn a bit of coding.
As a female librarian, I would say that one should expect as much from oneself as one would from a man. Learn to manage up as well as across and down. Remember that professional development and continuing education is as much your own responsibility as that of your employer, if even more. It is to invest in yourself. Hold yourself accountable for troubleshooting and fact-finding without continually asking others for assistance.
If you are an academic librarian, do not confine yourself to the world of information science. Read and participate in events and professional organizations that interface with the library and staff. Read about trends in higher education, in publishing, in technology. Learn as much as you can about your users, those stakeholders who have an impact on your service and who will benefit from honest dialog about your profession and the services librarians provide.
Becoming a professional is not limited to a 9 to 5 timeslot. In the 21st century, it is an evolving process that is often attended to best beyond the confines of one’s employment. For one who is passionate about the profession, the pursuit for excellence will provide camaraderie, intellectual stimulation and immense personal satisfaction. It will allow you to not only grow spiritually but widen your opportunities for future employment as well as bolster your self-esteem and self-image.
– Stephanie Gross, Electronic Reserves Librarian, Yeshiva University