Serendipity out of my comfort zone

(with bonus library practicum tips!)

18 months ago, I went to a start of semester event for Curtin University library, archives and records students in Perth. This week I was back in the same room on campus but instead of being in the audience, I stood at the front of the room and gave a talk about my Master’s practicum experience to new students.

I have never been comfortable with public speaking, and admire those who make it look effortless. So why did I do it? I felt compelled to give back and share what I have learned, just like so many others have shared with me in person at ALIA events, and online on Twitter and blogs. Education is a huge part of an information management professional’s role, so I’ve been been taking opportunities to practice related skills.

The serendipity for me was that I turned an anxiety inducing experience into an achievement. And my next trip out of my comfort zone can be more challenging!

Here’s a summary of my talk – tips for students on library practicums. You can read more about my practicum on the Curtin library blog.

Tips before your practicum

  • If you’re not sure which library area you want to work in, find out as much as you can about different specialisations. You can do this by chatting to people at ALIA events and cardiParties and by looking at the ALIA website under Professional Development
  • Use your pre-practicum meeting to discuss project ideas, and have another meeting if you need to.

Tips during your practicum

  • Ask lots and lots of questions! That’s what your mentor is for
  • Ask if you can attend any internal development opportunities taking place while you’re on practicum – I went to a journal club, a makerspace talk, research supervisor training, and team planning meetings
  • If you need to create something on your practicum, try to complete it a few days before the end so that your mentor has time to review it and ask you questions
  • Build on your strengths and use the placement as an opportunity to fill any gaps. I felt I was rusty on presentation skills, so I offered to summarise my report as a 15-minute presentation to library management.

Be open, and say yes to trying new things even if they’re a little bit out of your comfort zone. Practicums are only a few weeks long, but the potential to achieve is huge!