How SLA has helped me throughout my career – Valerie Ryder, Chapter Cabinet Chair-Elect
Question 4: How has involvement with SLA over the years helped you grow professionally and personally?
Valerie Ryder, Candidate for Chapter Cabinet Chair-Elect
Throughout my career, SLA has been my “go-to” place for finding expertise, my professional safety net in time of career transition, and the nucleus of my professional friendships. In the early stages of my career, I found many of my informal mentors among the ranks of the local SLA chapter and the more geographically dispersed divisions in which I became involved. Serving in chapter and division roles gave me the opportunity of practicing leadership skills in a low-risk environment while developing friendships with other SLA members. As my confidence built, I became a division chair-elect, program planner and chair. Those opportunities provided the challenges of developing and refining my project planning techniques, communication skills, and abilities to motivate others towards achieving a common goal. I had strong role models within the chapter and division who guided me and challenged me to become all that I could be.
In mid-career I knew that as I assumed new job responsibilities or changed careers I could always reach out to other SLA members, whether or not I knew them, for advice or answers to my questions. One of the enduring strengths of SLA is that its members always help each other and willingly share their knowledge. This tradition continues today in a more spontaneous and ubiquitous way through the various unit listservs and social media channels to enhance person-to-person contacts. It amazes me how quickly even the most esoteric question that is posed through these conduits is answered by the ever-present centers of expertise that are SLA. I have learned so much about knowledge areas outside my core domain by following these discussions.
During my own job losses and career transitions, I turned to my network of SLA colleagues to sustain my confidence and be my safety net of professional contacts. I re-invested in my professional skills through the offerings of SLA Click University as well as SLA Career Connection Seminars or divisional programming at Annual Conferences. I can attribute my three successful “landings” during career transition to connections that I made through SLA.
As I gained experience and expertise of my own, I sought ways to give back to the professional association that gave me a strong foundation upon which to build my own career. Sharing my knowledge through presentations at local chapter meetings also helped me to fine tune my public speaking skills. When I saw that there was an unmet need to do more to help chapter members find jobs in a tough economic climate, I volunteered to be chapter Employment Chair and stared writing articles for the chapter bulletin about job-hunting, resume writing, and interviewing techniques. During another economic downturn and in a different chapter I created and presented a three-part seminar series on these key success factors for job seekers.
As Chapter Cabinet Chair-Elect I would like to facilitate more opportunities for chapter leaders to learn from each other, share best practices or lessons learned, and continue the mentoring roles that my predecessors have begun to strengthen the SLA leadership pipeline.