As I write this, I'm just returning from a job fair with the University Libraries here at UNC. See, with the school year starting, a lot of the libraries are looking for graduate assistants and, of course, a lot of us graduate students are looking for jobs. So someone had the brilliant idea to bring all the employers and students into one room and do kind of a speed-interviewing thing. It was very nerve-wracking, but, in some ways, I also kind of enjoyed it, and it was definitely a learning experience.
There were about 30 students there and only about 8 open job positions. That's a lot of competition! So that is always very nerve-wracking.
I thought I personally did well, but there is always a question of whether someone is better - more experienced, better suited to the position, more poised - whatever. I thought I did a good job of presenting all my strengths, and I think I talked pretty fluidly but...since there was so much competition, I'm not confident enough to be like, "OH yeah, I definitely got a job." I wouldn't want to be that arrogant anyway, since it would probably come back to haunt me.
I say I enjoyed it because I really do enjoy talking to people. Also, I was pleasantly surprised by the kind of jobs offered. I was worried that the job tasks would be pretty basic, like shelving and checking out books, but a lot of them offered hands-on archive experience, and since I'm specializing in archives, that's really great for me. Also, all the people seemed really nice, and really interested in helping the students and giving them experience, so that's always good.
Also - I'm happy to report that being an English major may have actually helped me in this situation. (Take that, engineers!) Almost all the jobs required strong writing and communication skills, and when people see that you were an English major, they immediately know you have that (or, at least, hopefully you do).
Since I did just get back from it, I thought I would jot down some tips for you guys - and for my future reference, too. A lot of this is based on mistakes I made or saw other people making, or things that I thought other people or I did well.
The number one thing, I think, is to be sure of yourself. Even if you don't feel sure of yourself, you have to fake it! And even if you're not totally sure the job is for you, act like it's your most ideal job ever. I think it's bad to come off wishy-washy.. For example, I heard a lot of people say that they weren't sure what they wanted to specialize in here at library school. It's true that school hasn't even started, so lots of people are still figuring stuff out, but to me, if I were an employer, that would seem like a bad sign. After all, if your not serious and committed to something in school, who knows if you'll be committed to the job? What if you change your mind about the concentration, and then decide to change your job?
Also, I heard someone say "I know I'm not exactly what you're looking for." Don't say stuff like that!! Don't point out your flaws, just focus on your strengths. It's not like you're hiding something or lying. You're just representing yourself in the best way.
Also, one thing I've learned about job interviews is that you can never be too enthusiastic, or provide too much information about yourself. For me, interviewing can be really hard, because I don't really feel comfortable talking about myself, especially about things I've done and accomplished. To me it always feels like bragging. But you're supposed to brag in a job interview, right? Well, not brag. Don't be snobby, but just be honest about what you've done, and again, highlight the good.
Also, on that same note, for this job fair, I brought samples of blog entries I'd written. Not for this blog, but for an organization I blog for. I felt a little weird about that - like I was being an over-achiever. But then I remembered that being an over-achiever isn't a bad thing in a job interview.
And my final advice - something I really should follow myself - is that after the interview is over, try to forget about it. I know that's hard. Right now, I'm honestly sitting here replaying everything and over-analyzing everything. I keep thinking about how one of the interviewers never smiled when he talked to me. Did that mean he didn't like me, or is he not a smiley guy? And how another interview spent way less time talking to me than the girl before me...But okay - I should stop doing this, right? Because there's nothing I can do about it now. I know I did the best I could, and now it's over and I'll just have to wait and see what happens.