From Academia To The Office: New Professionals in the workplace


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Co-presented by Marie Cannon and Samuel Wiggins at the 2013 BIALL conference in Glasgow on the 13 June.

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  • New professionals. What exactly is a new professional? How do law librarians perceive new professionals and do these perceptions match up with reality? What do new professionals have to study in order to qualify, and what skills and knowledge can they bring to your team? These are questions we are going to answer today.Now there is a reason why there is a really cute picture of a young duckling in our presentation. Like this duckling, new professionals will require your time and support as they develop and gain more experience. However, in return you get to nurture and mould the new professional in to someone perfect for your organisation’s needs, or continuing with the duck metaphor, your ugly duckling, with your help, will transform in to an accomplished swan.
  • How did you view future career paths? I want you to paint a picture in your head. Imagine you are a student again – if that is the 1980s, give yourself a big hair do, if it is the 90s, get out the baggy jeans. It is your first job and you’re stacking dusty old books as a library assistant. You’re pondering where to go with your career when a lawyer screams at you, sending you in to a blind panic. Things haven’t changed too much, and law is still seen as a intimidating sector for many new librarians. Our presentation will cover how to brush aside stereotypes and retain the best new talent for your service.
  • How we have become New Professionals ourselves, and then the majority of the presentation will cover the results from a survey we sent out early this year, and this will be mixed with my own and Sam's personal experiences. Survey results covering what is a new professional, qualifications, training, professional bodies and skillsThis will aim to provide advice to potential or new professionals in the legal world, and will also give managers and other senior staff an insight as to the experiences and challenges facing new professionals today and to learn what to expect from new professionals, and so they can better help them to make the transition from academia to work.We will also cover what New Professionals can do for you, if you choose to hire them in your association, and we will finish with an interactive session as the end.CAVEAT- Being self-confessed new professionals, we are obviously biased in giving this presentationRULES OF THE ROAD- There will be time for questions at the end, so please if you could wait until then, we would really appreciate it.
  • As self-confessed New Professionals, we are obviously interested in how new professionals are perceived in the profession, which was the main reason why we sent out the survey earlier this year. Such perceptions can also become out of date very quickly, and for example, many experienced professionals may not know what library school requires new professionals to study in order to qualify in the current time.Also, some may underestimate the skills and experience that some new professionals have today, and we are going highlight they can benefit you and your organisation if you choose to hire one.But also as very new professionals, we can offer practical advice on how to manage new professionals within your team, how to help them bridge the gap from academia to the office, by telling you what training has worked for us and the biggest challenges we faced.
  • Sam’s career history:Graduate TraineeshipWhy law? Partly chance, partly an interest from contemplating a conversionRealisation that it was information that I enjoyed morePostgraduate Qualification Lucky to receive fundingOption for special libraries, but it was “core skills” that were developed as opposed to sector specific knowledgeQualificationCombination of both experience as a graduate trainee and MA that secured the positionAdditional specialist knowledge followed, BIALL LFC, in house training, Chartership, volunteering on committees
  • To complement our own experiences as New Professionals, we reached out into the sector to find out what other thought of law librarianship, the challenges facing those entering the sector, and what caused some to leave! We received a very respectable 275 responses to our survey, equating to roughly 27% of our sample size. The survey was a mix of both qualitative and quantitative questions, so we will be presenting some results as stats, others we will be plucking out individual examples to illustrate points and highlight difficulties/success stories from within the sector.
  • We collected a number of responses from those who had left the legal sector. When they did, they went to a range of other areas. Mostly, transitioned out into other “special” areas, a contrast to those who have moved into the sector. Does this mean that those in law are pigeon holed? Or is it simply the preferences of the individuals as to where they have moved on to? s
  • Well, we can look at why they have moved on – these are some of the reasons given. The majority moved on due to expired contracts or promotion elsewhere. This is perhaps more to do with career progression, although some did mention that they were not keen on lawyers themselves…
  • Varied and interestingDifficult to process
  • Limited experienceand possessing a professional qualification is key
  • Compare 12% to 49% - assume someone who has just left library school?
  • 2 elementsExperience – we agreeQualification disagree – excludes students and graduate trainees
  • Interesting responses that demonstrate perceived benefits of working with new professionals
  • Now we know what a new professional is…Yes = 21%No =79%So now we know how we perceive what qualifies as a New Professional. 21.5% of our survey respondents were New Professionals, and 78.5% were experienced professionals.
  • Masters is overwhelmingly popular form of qualification, regardless of geographical location
  • Professional qualification is important to our definition of a New professional, how well do they actually prepare us for the world of work? Experienced professionals answered this only = distance to evaluateThis is somewhat surprising considering how many jobs require a professional qualification.
  • Learnt more on traineeships than during their studyCannot prepare you for working in a corporate law environmentToo general for someone who wants to specialise in law librariesWork experience more important
  • Excellent foundation or staring point, and that experience would provide the rest with timeHaving a qualification may help how you interact with extremely intelligent users.
  • GoodTheoretical grounding of librarianship principles, experience will bring rest with timeFelt unprepared for professional work, but had earned right to applyOnly so much a theoretical qualification can prepare for a practical jobTheory of cataloguing and classification – taxonomy, know how, and obviously books BadContent is too general – no training on legal resourcesModules impractical?Higher and longer work experience placements = gives taste, learn lots, and possibly help them secure job
  • As you can see, course completion for established professionals is much higher, but this is to be expected. It does show though that the vast majority of NPs are getting up to speed and attending courses in the early stages of the their career. When asked what course they found the most useful, new professionals answered the legal foundations course, although many thought outside of the box here and explained that anything as long as it is alongside day to day experience on a busy ref desk makes the biggest difference.
  • Established professionals were then asked if they felt if they were missing any areas when they started out that they would have liked to be trained in. We were hoping to align these with skills gaps that they identified with new professionals today, and to see if they were the same, and if Established professionals were doing anything about this to assist new entrants to the new profession.
  • Above are some of the needs that NPs and EPs differentiated on. Interesting that New Tech shows up, and PM. Eps show more “advanced” JD roles, managing and budgeting etc. Does this come too late? Should we be laying the groundwork now? Personal story. Of note also, NPs said that their employers were third very supportive, third supportive, and 30% middling. Only 5% resistant – so what training have they been provided with in house? Does it match the core overlap we identified, the needs that NPs identified, or those that Eps wished they had?
  • Common points that both needed when starting. Does this make it essential on a JD or first timer training? Consisted of: Database trainingMentoring CataloguingLegal system overviewHow do these responses compare to what experienced profs felt they were lacking in when they started out?
  • Speaking of ways to develop new skills…BIALL biggest, CILIP 2nd, due to majority of British respondentsHuge variety:American Association of Law LibrariansAustralian Law Librarians AssociationOrganisation of South Africa Law Librarians
  • So how many of us are members?Results are higher than average (advertised survey on emailing lists/social media)Law possibly has an unusually high number of associations compared to other sectorsMembership surprisingly similar – statistics support the view that NPs are committed to the professionManaging staff – raise your expectations, there are so many benefits, you should actively encourage
  • This is one of the benefits of being a memberMany bodies offer conference and travel bursaries specifically for NPs to get them involved – save yourself some money!Fantastic networking opportunitiesNPs benefit more from conference sessions – they have that much more to learn, and therefore benefit even moreSo may ideas to report back and content for personal blogGet much more out of it by volunteering than only being a member:SkillsGain experienceInfluential people
  • Are there any perceived barriers to entering the legal sector?25% no – others are surprisingly split17% legal knowledge - Assumption you need to have a law background- Although ideal, not normal! You pick it up along way - Worrying this misconception may be putting NPs off15% high level of qualification – personal experience most jobs require it!Lack of jobs and specifically entry level – great barrierLack of experience – My job required 1 year’s experience, not seen many others that don’t!
  • So keeping all of this in mind, what can NPs do for you?Combination of survey responses and our personal ideasFresh approach – new, improved ways of doing things, e.g. reviewing journalsCheap resource – especially if you consider conference awardsEnthusiastic and hard working – may invigorate the rest of the team with their energy, may inspire team to get more involvedNPs are digital natives familiar with OfficeAre aware of new technologies and are not afraid to experiment and learn how to use them – they are self-taught. E.g. PreziSocial media – becoming more important in law firms. Ask us for Twitter adviceRecently trained – up to date library knowledge, e.g. RDA cataloguing, HTML
  • From Academia To The Office: New Professionals in the workplace

    1. 1. From Academia to the Office:New Professionals in the WorkplaceMarie Grace CannonSamuel WigginsInformation Officers Extraordinaire
    2. 2. Think back…
    3. 3. Agenda● Our career paths● Survey results● Benefits to hiring new professionals● Battledecks● Questions
    4. 4. Motivation● Self interest● Library qualifications have changed● What new professionals can teach you● Practical advice
    5. 5. How we have become New Professionals…
    6. 6. Survey• Reaching out into the profession• 275 responses• Response rate of ≈27%• Mixed Methods• Individual examples
    7. 7. Distribution
    8. 8. Survey pathsStartFinishCurrently work withlegal infoNo longer work withlegal infoNever worked with legal infoEst prof New profExcluded
    9. 9. Stats!• 16% -“New Professionals”• 68% have over 10 years experience• One third had over 20 years experience• Majority of respondents were currently working for a solicitorsfirm, followed by academic law librarians
    10. 10. An exclusive sector?Years inLibrarianship% of respondentsfor the LIS sector% of respondents forlawLess than 1 2.5 6.1Between 1 and 2 3.1 9.1Between 2 and 5 10.2 13.7Between 5 and 10 16.8 19.3Between 10 and2034 33.5More than 20 33.5 18.3
    11. 11. Where did you go? (Cotton Eye Joe)AcademicFinancialTechnicalLooking forworkMedicalCharityAccounting
    12. 12. Leaving law librarianship• Contract expired• Made redundant• Promotion elsewhere• Lawyers• Opportunities in other sectors• Bored with the role & not as challenging as expected
    13. 13. Defining New Professionals
    14. 14. Defining New Professionals10%7%17%17%30%19% Unfamilar with termNon-traditional roleNew to profession or sectorExperience (professional posts)Library qualificationCombination of qualification and experience
    15. 15. Defining New Professionals● A huge 49% of respondents included having alibrary qualification● 34% specified having limited (0-5 years) experience● Only 12% included being in a professional position
    16. 16. Our definition“Someone with or without a professionallibrary qualification,who has been working in the professionfor under 5 years”
    17. 17. Idea generating professionalMore willing to be mouldedand move with the timesDefining New ProfessionalsAnyone who has a zest to keepon developing and learning
    18. 18. Are you a New Professional?Yes No
    19. 19. ●63% of the New Professionals respondents have a libraryqualification● In your definition, 49% included having a library qualification● 69% had studied a MastersQualifications – reality v expectation
    20. 20. Does a professional qualification adequately preparefor work in the legal sector?20%31%40%9%YesTo some extentNoDont know
    21. 21. Qualification – No I’m not sure [the MA] would’ve fullyprepared me for working in anyparticular sector!I learned absolutely nothing of valueThey need to be working in a firm in order tolearn and understand the cultural, organisationaland technical skills requiredI’d advise New Professionals toqualify just to tick the boxesI learnt far more working inlibraries as a student and as aGraduate Trainee
    22. 22. Qualification – YesStarting point only. On the job training… and awillingness to learn are what really make a newprofessional usefulIf you are working for the top brains inthe country (or the world) it helps to beeducated to a certain levelIf a person has a professional qualificationover and above a legal degree they may beadequately prepared
    23. 23. Qualifications● Good foundation and theoretical grounding● Sense of professionalism● ConfidenceRoom for improvement:● Too general● Modules on legal resources● Work experience
    24. 24. Training0.00%10.00%20.00%30.00%40.00%50.00%Legal FoundationsCourseLegal ReferenceCourseDay Courses Evening CoursesNewProfessionalsEstablishedProfessionals
    25. 25. Training – areas for developmentHow a law firm operates ona day to day basisLegal terms and phrasesPicked up most on the jobthrough the yearsI didnt do any training- all learnt on the jobThe training itself came fromBIALL events rather than myemployer at the timeTraining is theory-heavy, butlight on practical applicationPicked it up gradually throughon the job training, andgetting used to the materialsas I went along
    26. 26. Training – changing needs• Legal Reference Course/GDL• Database training• Legal information on the MA• New Technology – e.g.Sharepoint• Basic legal knowledge• Mentoring from others in sector• Using print resources• Project management – e.g.Prince2• Copyright• Understanding how a law firmworks
    27. 27. Training – Changing Needs• Budgeting• Understanding workings of a law firm• Business research• Basic legal knowledge• Negotiation• Database operations• Learned on the job• Teaching skills• EU law• Copyright• Content in specific titles• Managing people• Cataloguing• In house legal terms
    28. 28. Training – forward thinking• Plan your training needs now• Two thirds of Experienced Professionals have provided inhouse training
    29. 29. Skills – hiring expectationsAcademic abilityCustomer service skillsWillingness to learnEnthusiasmCommunication skillsAbility to admit whenyou are unsureInterest in the sectorIT skillsQuick to learn
    30. 30. Skills – hiring concerns● Lack of experience● Lack of commercial acumen● Being able to deal with lawyers
    31. 31. Membership of professional bodies
    32. 32. Membership of professional bodies0%10%20%30%40%50%60%70%80%90%100%Yes NoNew professionalsExperienced professionalsExpect staff to be members
    33. 33. Professional bodies
    34. 34. Barriers to legal sector25%15%12%7%10%17%7%7%No barriersQualificationJobsTrainingExperienceLegal educationRespect from usersFunding
    35. 35. Benefits of New ProfessionalsNew ideasEnthusiasmRecently trainedFresh approachCheapHard workingDigital nativesConference awardsNew technologies
    36. 36. BattleDecks
    37. 37. Contender One… Ready!
    38. 38. Define A New Professional!
    39. 39. Contender Two… Ready!
    40. 40. Professional bodies
    41. 41. Well done!
    42. 42. Picture references● Duckling – domestic duck:● Hausente:● Lemon revised:● La Târgul de Florii, Muzeul Ţăranului Român:● A bright idea:|● Mortarboard graduation cap resting on a rolled diploma:|● Checkmark:|● Law scales:|● Woman poised at the starting line of a running track:|● Silhouettes of corporate people:|● Woman running in a track and field competition:|● Calendar:● Revenge Of Return Of The Jedi:● John Anderson:
    43. 43. Picture references 2● Cake. 10. Candles:● Cotton reels:● My eye:● Mama:● Graduation caps:● 3 Bonomo Magic Clown Membership Card:● Mind the gap:● A no entry sign in Cape Town, South Africa:● Janette S. Caputo: "Stress and burnout in library service" (Oryx Press, 1991):● Jan 27 12 ipad Carson 27/366:● Piggy banks with coins:|● Applause – FAME:
    44. 44. Any Questions?