SLA Membership Connects Students with Jobs

This is the third in a five-part series of blog posts about four recent recipients of the SLA Philadelphia Chapter’s Knower Fund Travel Award. The first post described the Knower Fund and introduced the four travel award recipients; in the second post, the award recipients discussed the reasons they joined SLA and the lessons they learned while attending their first SLA Annual Conference. In this post, the award recipients describe how their SLA connections helped them make the transition from library school to the workforce.

What’s the most valuable benefit of SLA membership? For students in library school, it’s this: joining SLA makes it easier to join the workforce.

For example, Chrystelle Browman, a legal research analyst at a firm specializing in intellectual property and technology matters, attributes all of her professional success to the connections she’s made through SLA.

“That is not an exaggeration by any means,” she says. “I landed my first legal librarian internship through a fellow student member of the Drexel University SLA student group. My first legal librarianship position was through a connection I made in the Philadelphia SLA Chapter. When I moved back to the San Francisco Bay Area, I met a recruiter at a local SLA event who helped me get my foot in the door at my current job. Other folks I met through the chapter wrote me letters of recommendation. If I had not been active or engaged with my local SLA chapters, I would have not had a successful transition from student to professional.”

Like Chrystelle, Erin Nagawiecki, a competitive intelligence research analyst at a law firm in Philadelphia, used the connections she made as a student member to open doors to the workplace.

“I received my first internship in a law firm through connections at SLA, which led me to my current job at Morgan Lewis,” she says. “The Philly SLA members have been wonderfully generous with career advice, and the institutional knowledge of our chapter members seems limitless.”

While still a student member, Marrette Pearsall volunteered to be president of the Philadelphia Chapter and served a three-year cycle as president elect, president, and past president. Taking on what she calls “a huge position that involved setting the tone for the chapter,” Marrette found herself attending more events, meeting more people, and getting to know members better than she would have if she hadn’t volunteered. Her involvement translated into fellow board members and other chapter members helping her with her résumé and giving her career advice.

Now the systems librarian for the Montgomery County (Pa.) Law Library, Marrette says her SLA experience gave her an edge when applying for jobs. “My work and efforts for the chapter taught me a lot of skills, increased my networking circle, and got my name and face out there,” she says.

SLA experience and connections also helped Michelle Klaw make the transition from school to the workforce—in her case, as a technical services librarian at a Philadelphia law firm.

“SLA has allowed me to build a network of experienced professionals I can call upon for help or advice,” she says. “My involvement in the SLA Philadelphia Chapter and the Drexel University student group also helped me secure my current position. The recruiter for Stradley Ronon reached out to me after finding my contact information on the Philadelphia’s Chapter website in connection with my chapter and student group leadership positions.”

In the final blog post of this series, Michelle, Erin, Marrette, and Chrystelle will explain how SLA membership continues to benefit them and offer advice to other information professionals in the early stages of their careers.

— Valerie J. Ryder
2016–2017 Membership Chair
SLA Philadelphia Chapter

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