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Posts Tagged ‘new professional’

Chartership… for some this can be a mysterious and scary word.

During my first job interview following my MA, I was asked if I would consider chartership and I very enthusiastically said “yes, yes, of course, I’d love to!”… having absolutely no idea what chartership was. I thought that studying an intense Masters in librarianship was enough… well I couldn’t be more wrong. It turns out librarianship is a demanding profession which encourages its members to constantly strive for excellence and seek professional development opportunities – and to be honest I am very happy about that!

Chartership is one of many steps you can choose to take after qualification to help you develop professionally and to be recognised for your professional achievements and commitment in the UK. From my personal experience, I had only heard the word ‘chartership’ spoken in a tone of dread, or tweeted along with “overwhelming” and “difficult”. I also received the impression that it was only worth going for if you had loads of experience and was fairly far in your career already. This is not the case!

There are so many misconceptions surrounding chartership. It was only at the suggestion of my friend Sam Wiggins, who at the time had just passed his chartership, that I actually looked in to the requirements for chartership and considered whether it would be right for me. And so I write this post to describe how chartership was such a positive experience for me, and why you should consider it!

So, how did I benefit from chartering?

  • Identifying and prioritising knowledge and skill development

As a reasonably new professional, undertaking chartership forced me to stop and take some time to assess what skills I already possessed, what skills would I like to gain for the future, and what actions could I take to get there. For example, training is a huge aspect of any information role in the legal sector, and was something I had no experience in. Additionally, I had a deep, deep fear of presenting and public speaking, and avoided all public speaking opporutnities. This was something I needed to rectify, and chartership motivated me to really tackle this weakness of mine and turn it in to a strength, by presenting at the BIALL conference and the SLA, CILIP and BIALL Graduate open Day for new professionals. I honestly think that without chartership, I  may have cowardly skirted around my public speaking terror for as long as I could.

  • Reflection

The chartership process teaches you the value of reflection both on your own professional development and the library service within which you work. In creating your portfolio, you become more aware of your organisation’s values, and how your service fits within the organisation and how your own work benefits your organisation. Obtaining this outlook and the habit of evaluating how your own projects fit in to the bigger picture, is a skill that I think will be useful whatever role or industry you are in, and will particularly help if you move on to more senior roles where strategy and justifying the value of your service to the seniors of your organisation becomes a key part of your work. This can also help you innovate, and suggest improvements to your current service or brand new projects that will help your organisation, and will inevitably improve your library’s standing with the key stakeholders.

  • The value of a mentor

Maybe the biggest benefit of going through the chartership process was having a mentor to discuss my professional activities and experiences with, and being guided to reflect fully on the outcomes of these experiences. My mentor Sam Wiggins was absolutely amazing both at responding to my freqent panic over tiny details of my portfolio, and encouraging me to think more widely about my career and where I wanted to go professionally. In fact, it was one of these chartership discussions which made me realise that my work at the time was becoming a little stale to me, and that maybe I was ready to move to a new, more challenging role. A few months later, I have a new job that I love and I am a chartered librarian! Although the formal chartership process is over, I still very much plan on having Sam as an informal mentor for the forseeable future (Sam if you are reading this, I am sorry but you did such a great job that I’m afraid you wont get rid of me that easily). I am aware that the quality of mentoring can vary, but my experience was extremely positive! So much so, that I am considering becoming a chartership mentor myself.

 Chartership certificateSo, what now?

The challenge for me will be to continue taking the time to identify my weaknesses or new skills that I want to gain, and then to motivate myself to take action to develop them. Professional development is very much our own responsibility, and it can be so easy to get swept up in our day to day work and leave our professional development till ‘another time’. I plan on using my annual review as a reminder to to evaluate my professional development, as well as my blog to remind myself to write reflectively about my role.

So although after a hard year the chartership process is formally over, chartership has taught me that our professional development is a continuous exercise, and so in fact it is never over!

If you’re interested in chartership and what it entails, do take a look at the CILIP website where they have examples of portfolios, and consider whether it is the next step for you.

 

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For those of you not so familiar with the SLA as an organisation, every year at the conference a special few are awarded the accolade of ‘Rising Star’, for early career achievement and for having great potential for becoming future leaders with the SLA and for the profession as a whole. Members have to be nominated for this honour, and my friend Sam Wiggins very deservedly won it this year, along with Angela Kent and Tanya Whippie, which is why I attended the Rising Stars and Fellows Roundtable.

This turned out to be my favourite session of the whole conference (along with the Working Across Cultures panel session). This was structured so that each Rising Star was paired with a newly awarded Fellow (outstanding mid-career SLA members), and each pair discussed different aspects of the #SLA2014 conference theme ‘impact beyond borders’.

Internationalisation

Catherine & Sam

Catherine & Sam

First up was Sam Wiggins, and Fellow Catherine Lavallee-Welch on internationalisation, who questioned each other on their topic.

So what does internationalisation mean?

For an information profession, internationalisation is about your outlook and outreach; being aware of the global economy and news, aware of international materials, working with colleagues in your international offices, and working with vendors who develop products globally in order to understand how they will affect us locally.

With regards to the SLA as an international association – Kate Arnold is the first non-North American SLA President, the Arabian Gulf Chapter is the fastest growing chapter and we have to ask ourselves ‘where is the SLA going?’ SLA is unique in its structure of divisions (subject divisions) and chapters (geographical regions) and has great potential to grow globally.

What does a North-American (a typical SLA member) think are the benefits for a non-American for joining SLA?

  • Offers a wealth of international resources
  • Fantastic networking opportunities with peers across the globe
  • Possibly there is not a local organisation that fits their needs as well as SLA

How does the benefits of being a member of SLA translate in to the workplace?

  • It helps to break down international barriers and help you to build up an understanding of cultural nuances
  • Meeting people of different nationalities helps to dispel stereotypes
  • By diversifying the workplace, you can better make connections when working with colleagues in different offices.

Career frontiers

Second was Fellow Daniel Lee and Rising Star Angela Kent on career frontiers. Unfortunately their time was cut short, but they advocated SLA as a great resource:

  • The SLA is great for providing practical advice and numerous networking opportunities – whether you want to get in to the profession or not
  • It can be particularly useful if you are relocating to a different country or region and want to meet local professionals and learn about local resources
  • The SLA also provides a good and safe place to experiment and gain new skills if you choose to become a volunteer

I can certainly second that final point as an SLA volunteer myself! Volunteering for SLA Europe has provided me with opportunities to develop skills and gain experience that my current (and fairly junior) job cannot offer me.

Networking

Tanya Whippie and Leslie Reynolds gave their top tips for effective networking beyond the inner circle:

  • It’s not who you know, it’s who knows you
  • Volunteer for an association, and publish an article if you can to get your name out there
  • Discover people in similar positions at different organisations so that you can cross-pollinate and bounce ideas off them (particularly useful if you are a solo librarian)
  • Network with people in your organisation who aren’t librarians; particularly those in the know about the organisation – don’t underestimate the power of sports and happy hour!
  • Be prepared for describing your work to non-librarians (similar to elevator pitch) – always have 3 things about your library that you are proud of!

Finally, fellows Tony Landolt and Mary Ellen Bates paired up to do something rather different to the other pairs. They created a scenario in the future, and a job description for an information professional (preferably a rising star) in 2019. It was very entertaining, but I’m afraid I don’t have all of the details to recreate it for you.

 

I think what I really got from this session was enthusiasm about the profession, reinforced belief that our profession is a great one and it is made up of some very wonderful people, and in conjunction with the opening session it has really motivated myself to think about my own person career and to aspire to one day become a Rising Star or Fellow, and the best possible professional I can be!

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I have been a little remiss with my blog lately and there are a number of what I think are very reasonable excuses as to why, which primarily are :

  1. Spending much of my lunch breaks compiling my chartership portfolio, which I hope to submit in July *fingers crossed*
  2. Grappling with becoming the Secretary of SLA Europe, and trying not to fail miserably and buckle under the pressure of such a huge responsibility
  3. Preparing for the SLA Conference in Vancouver (I can’t believe it’s nearly here!)
  4. Rather unexpectedly getting a new job

Although these are valid excuses for being very busy and neglecting the blog, I am also well aware that each of these excuses are fuel for potential mountains of blog posts for me to write in the future – which I am going to do my very best to churn out, despite beginning a new job at the end of June!

So just a quick update really.

Having been Blog Editor (and consequently sitting on the Board) for SLA Europe over the past year, I was asked whether I would be interested in filling the position of Secretary which had become vacant. Despite knowing that I would be learning this role alongside studying for chartership, and that a substantial amount of work would be involved, I decided the opportunity was too good to pass up. In the past 3 months as Secretary the European Chapter hasn’t (yet) fallen apart due to my inexperience (primarily due to a very experienced Board), so I think I’m doing OK so far – although I have a way to go before feeling confident with the role! Needless to say, a post on what I’ve gained from volunteering for SLA Europe will be coming along shortly.

The second piece of news to share is that I will be starting a new job at the end of June, as an Information Officer at Norton Rose Fulbright. On completing my MA, I almost immediately found my current position at Trowers & Hamlins where I have been working for just under 2 years. I wasn’t actively job hunting as I really liked Trowers as a firm and loved the library team. However, I became aware of a vacancy at Norton Rose Fulbright (where I completed my graduate traineeship), which is a much larger and more international firm, and I thought I would give it a shot as it offered a wider variety of learning opportunities and more varied experience.  It was to my utter surprise that I was offered it, and although I am sad to leave the team at Trowers, I am very excited to return to Norton Rose Fulbright and hopefully develop much more as a professional.

As a very wise friend recently said to me – I need wings and not roots right now. I am feeling very optimistic about the future that lies ahead.

We Have Lift Off by Chad Horwedel

We Have Lift Off by Chad Horwedel

 

 

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Earlier this week, I gave my first ever formal presentation at the SLA Europe, BIALL and CLSIG joint Graduate Open Day.

The History

Now, you may know that I am a rather shy person. At school I never used to answer questions in class, and if I was asked to speak I would shake like a leaf. Any opportunity for public speaking I used to actively avoid like the plague. I even remember badgering my brother to ask the ice-cream man for my ice-cream as I was too shy to ask him myself. Now, it is safe to say that I am not naturally a good public speaker.

Bashful the dwarf

Bashful the dwarf

During my undergraduate degree of Philosophy and Literature, we were never asked to give formal presentations, but only to lead seminars with our initial thoughts on a literary work or thinker; which I thought was wonderful at the time as I hated public speaking. I didn’t mind this so much as to me it wasn’t a formal presentation, and so I can be fairly talkative in group meetings at work and so on. Again during my Masters in Library and Information Studies at UCL, I only ever had to give one formal presentation where I was in a group of 5 and had to speak for precisely 2 minutes. For the whole of 2 minutes I just read from a page of notes, and made sure I looked up at the audience once in a while. So my experience in presenting and public speaking was virtually non-existent. So last year, when I was asked to co-present at the BIALL conference at 2013 I thought it was too good an oppotunity to miss, and it would be great to get some experience by presenting with someone else, who could always take over if I decided to die of humiliation, collapse on the floor and crawl out of the room. I also thought that as it was so far in the future, I didn’t need to worry about it. It’s surprising how quickly time flies.

Preparation

So about a month or two ago, I was asked to speak at a Graduate Open Day which I thought would be the perfect warm up practice to public speaking. I would only need to speak for 30 minutes (including time for questions) and the audience was the most unscary, nice audience you could possibly ask for.

In preparing for this presentation, the first thing that I did was ask for help from a professional. Now luckily for me, working in a corporate law firm, we have a fantastic number of resource available including a great HR department with an excellent trainer. So I attended a training session on presentation skills; this covered what makes a good speaker, how to design a good presentation, how to present the information so that the audience takes it in, what kind of language you can use to make information come alive and so on. I have put below the most important points I took away from the session:

  • Think about your ending – what do you want your audience to do on leaving? Do you want them to be enthused, to take further action, etc? Keep this purpose in mind in when creating your presentation, and ensure your ending will leave them witha high energy and  feeling enthused, if that is what you are aiming for.
  • At the beginning, do something to grab their attention. Use a surprising picture, a quotation, etc.
  • The rule of 3 – always have an odd number of bullet points on your slides, as your audience will take them in easier. Also, try and keep the information on your slides as simple as possible, with as small a number of bullet points as possible – ideally only 3 per slide.
  • Bring information to life by telling a story – this will make the information more memorable, and can also give the audience a taste of your personality. If you can, use sensory language to really make the story come to life.

So with all of these tips in mind, I first wrote a list of things I wanted to cover in the presentation, created a hairline structure, and then with the structure in mind I wrote out a full script of what I wanted to say in an ideal world where I had a photographic memory. Using the script, I then filled out my slides with the important points, making sure there was always 3 or 5 points in each slide so the audience could take it in more effectively. I am not saying this is the right way to create a presentation but this was how I did it.

So, I had a presentation, but what do I do next?

Despite every inch of me screaming no, I contacted the trainer at work and asked if I could run through my presentation in front of him. I ended up running through it on 3 separate occassions, roughly once a week in the 3 weeks leading up to the Graduate Open Day.

During the first session, the trainer videoed me presenting the first 5 minutes. It became apparent that my hands didn’t know what to do (my arms were down straight by my sides, like the trained irish dancer in me, but my hands were twitching and flapping like they wanted to move as I talked!), and that I liked to sway as I spoke, which can be extremely distracting for an audience. So I repeated the first 5 minutes, this time starting with my hands looseley held in front of me in front of my chest, and standing on a piece of paper so I could hear if it rustled (if I swayed). I repeated the first 5 minutes over and over, and by the end had become much more relaxed. But there was still a long way to go. At the end of this first session, I decided I could attempt to go through the 30 minute presentation. But about 7 minutes in I stopped and basically gave up. I had lost my train of thought, had got on to the wrong slide and had basically panicked and felt that I really couldn’t continue.

Practice in the mirrorSo with this rather traumatic experience in mind, I practise it every night for the next week without fail in front of the mirror. Working on my hands and mentally slapping myself on the wrist if I swayed. I also used a timer on my phone, consistently taking 34 minutes say all I had to say, and I had my laptop to show me the slides as a prompt, trying not to use notes. However, the trainer had advised me to add notes to my slides and print these out (1 slide and accompanying notes per A4) as he felt I may need them as a security blanket.

The second session with the trainer, I managed to get through the whole presentation. Although there was a marked improvement in that I was now talking with my hands, and not swaying (yay!), it only took me 23 minutes. 23 minutes! Where had a whole 11 minutes disappeared to? Obviously I was speaking really fast, and I had noticed that at various points throughout I was running out of breath, which made my voice sound shaky. I also had a few moments where I got stuck trying to turn my notes over, which distracted my train of thought.

So my trainer gave me some very constructive advice regarding my slideshow; making my life easier for myself by just putting a screenshot of Twitter instead of using a link to the external website (during the run through I had panicked and lost the slideshow when I had the internet browser open), and advising me to introduce some statistics to emphasise some of my points. He also said to add sticky tabs to the notes to make them easier to turn over, and to just practice speaking extra slowly at home.

Again, I went home and practised, and practised, and practised. I still tried to do a full run through in the mirror once a night.

In the third and final session with my trainer, I ran through the presentation with no mishaps in 24 minutes. I was still speaking fairly fast but not noticeably so, and I was obiovusly missing out a few unimportant bits that I usually included in my run throughs at home. But I was fairly happy. As I knew the presentation inside out I could do it without notes, with the slides as my only prompt. Getting to this point was something I never could have imagined for myself, knowing my natural shyness and hatred of public speaking. This was a HUGE achievement for me.

Judgement Day

So, we now come to the morning of the Graduate Open Day. I looked at my notes once in the morning, and then didn’t look at them again before the presentation. My thinking was that whatever I didn’t know now I was not going to take in, and I was confident that I knew my stuff. I think I may have heard some general advice before that it is actually a good idea to give yourself a break mentally before you go up to present, but I couldn’t say where I heard this.

I gradually got nervous throughout the morning, and when I reached the venue I felt a little excited. I tried to distract myself by talking to the other speakers, and by enjoying the 2 presentations that went before mine. Finally, it was my turn to get called up.

CLSIG, BIALL, SLA Graduate Open Day

Myself presenting (picture taken by Simon Barron)

Post match analysis

Now, something that myself nor my trainer could have prepared for, was the fact that my legs instantly turned to jelly as I walked up to the stage. By the I was at the front, my legs were shaking so violently thyat I was sure the whole room could see it. My worrying about what the audience was thinking of my jelly legs, actually distracted me a little from my presentation, but I don’t think noticeably so. So what I did (and I knew my trainer would have screamed at me for doing this), I half leant, half sat on the very conveniently placed table behind me. As soon as I took the weight off my legs I instantly relaxed, stopped worrying about what the audience were thinking, and got in to the flow of my presentation, using the big screen with my slides as a prompt (no notes!). The jelly leg syndrome was probably made worse 10 times worse by the fact I was wearing heels, and so I now know to wear flats when presenting! I think I also felt more comfortable, as by half sitting down I was more on their level and I instantly felt more informal. This isn’t to say I wasn’t still nervous during the rest of my presentation, of course I was! But it allowed me to relax and give the presentation as effectively as possible. I also didn’t have the problem of running out of breath or my voice going shaky at any point during, which I was thrilled by.jelly

I was initially thrown by using a clicker for the presentation (I had only ever used a laptop when practicing), but after the first few slides it became quite natural.

I was desperate to get some feedback to my presentation, as I had no idea if I looked nervous, if anyone noticed the jelly legs, and most importantly whether the presentation was actually helpful to the graduates attending. There was a nicely timed networking session immediately after my presentation, and I had a number of people come up to chat and ask questions about going in to law after library school, which I take as a good sign. People also seemed genuinely surprised when I said I was nervous, so either they are extremely good actors, or I am a better actress than I thought I was! I was lucky to have a friend attend my presentation who assurewd me that I look totally relaxed, and I would like to think he wouldn’t lie to me just for the sake of being polite. So this was a huge achievement for me – to fool a whole room of people that I wasn’t terrified of public speaking. I also had a really nice email from a vendor who attended my presentation who said, and I quote, that my presentation was “inspirational” – I don’t think I could ask for more than that!

Here are some blog posts of the day by attendees:

What next?

Now by no means am I a great or comfortable public speaker – I only did as well as I did because I practised the presentation solidly for 3 weeks, which gave me the confidence to actually go up and give it. I also had a professional trainer who was extremely encouraging, and truly excellent in the tips and advice he gave me. I think I will always get nervous before speaking, and I will definitely have to work on my jelly legs before the BIALL conference, where I will have to be standing and presenting for a whole hour! But this presentation has certainly given me a massive boost to my confidence, and I honestly never believed I could have done it.

My personal advice to fellow nervous public speakers

  • Practice makes perfect. Honestly! Know your presentation inside out, and this will give you confidence. Don’t learn a script, as you will then get nervous about missing a line out, but just know the key points you want to convey
  • If you feel you may be susceptiblke to jelly leg syndrome like myself, wear flats not heels! Make sure you are comfortable.
  • I read on Ned’s article (mentioned below) about finding a few happy, attentive faces in the crowd, and coming back to them if you need reassurance. At one point in my presentation I saw someone yawning who looked like they were falling asleep, and I instantly looked elsewhere to someone who I had noticed was smiling and nodding along throughout the whole thing. So this is definitely a tip I would recommend!
  • Read Ned Potter’s 10 non-standard tips for public speaking – and there are some excellent comments at the bottom where other people have contributed their own tips on public speaking – and I have found them very, very helpful!

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Almost a year ago to the day, I was writing my application for the SLA Early Career Conference Award (or ECCA), sponsored by the Legal Division. If I am perfectly honest, I had not heard of the SLA before the award, and I really had no idea what to expect from them as a professional association, or how I would benefit as a member – which is exactly why SLA Europe offers a number of awards each year to introduce new professionals to the SLA and to provide them with the opportunity to attend their annual conference, all expenses paid.

Welcome to SLA 2012

When I won the award last year, the SLA’s annual conference was in Chicago and it was my first trip to America and my FIRST EVER conference. You can imagine I was really overwhelmed… in fact, it was such a surreal experience that much of the time I couldn’t really believe that such an incredible thing had happened to me… that I was in CHICAGO and at one of, and possibly the, biggest library and information conference in the world.

This is partly why I have not already blogged about my SLA conference experience, but not fully. On getting back to the UK in July 2012 I was scrambling to write my dissertation for my library Masters and I had just started my first professional role as a full time Information Officer for a law firm. You can imagine the panic I felt both at learning my job and completing the dissertation in time. It has been 6 months since then, and now I am actually glad I have decided to delay the blogging of this enormous event as I would not have been able to do it justice, and it has given me time to fully process my experience of the conference.

So, how do I go about blogging about a conference that caters for all kinds of special libraries; from legal to forestry; from academic to food; from military to marketing; from engineering to a cop who decided to create a library in his police station (honestly, and this cop was actually at the conference!). You get the picture – the sessions were so varied and so numerous to accommodate for the extremely varied membership of the Special Libraries Association (SLA), that it took a lot of planning for me to decide which sessions to attend and to make sure I got the most out of the conference.

PizzaI think the simplest way forward will be to blog about each day – this hopefully means that I won’t forget to write about a session if it doesn’t fit neatly in to a theme, and it should also give an overview of the entirety of my Chicago experience (including eating the most amazing pizza on the planet).

I should mention that I have already written a couple of short pieces on the conference already:

Also, I would really recommend reading my fellow ECCA winner’s fantastic and entertaining pieces about the conference on their personal blogs: Simon BarronRuth JenkinsGiles Lloyd-BrownSarah Wolfenden and Anneli Sarkanen.

Award winners

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This professional development post will reflect on what I have achieved in the first 6 months of my first professional role.

Settling in and making myself known:

Well, I like to think I have settled in to the Library team very well.

Gingerbread Pudseys

I have tried to make myself a little more well known in the firm; by volunteering to represent the department in a Marketing photography session (you can imagine everyone was very relieved I volunteered as librarians tend to be a very humble bunch), I have attended Corporate and Banking departmental meetings, and most of all I think by winning the Trowers bake-off in aid of Children In Need… my gingerbread appears to be famous and it’s amazing the number of people who now know me and stop to talk to me about baking! Every little bit of marketing helps, and of course by making myself known I am also reminding people of the library and information service available to them.

Projects:

Quite soon after I began at Trowers I was set 2 projects by my manager. The first was to go through a backlog of Construction know how and internal Trowers publications and profile them all. Although I have made a lot of headway on this I have not yet finished it, but am aiming to finish by Easter.

The second project was to go through each of the 80 journals we subscribe to, and look at the options for going online or subscribing to the digital issue, the price differences and the licensing to circulate and share any digital content. This was a mammoth task that resulted in the creation of a huge spread sheet detailing all of the information for each journal. This project greatly helped me to familiarise myself with our journal holdings and the options available to us for each journal. On completing the spreadsheet containing information on all 80+ journals, I then proceeded to create a personalised spread sheet for each department listing the journals and number of print copies they subscribe to, those on the circulation lists, and their overall options for going digital.

MoneybankI have since been liaising with PSLs and partners of various departments to go through the spread sheets with them and review what they should do next. As a result we have so far made over £3,000 in savings, and there is still plenty more to be made. I think this is the greatest achievement of my first 6 months, as this whole process has taken a lot of time and effort on my part, as well as diplomatically presenting this to departments in a positive way as a way of circulating information more quickly and efficiently, rather than as a cost cutting process. I have also had to be very careful in trying to appease those who still wish to see the print copy and those who wish to go fully digital, and so far I think it has been a success. This is a project that is going to continue for a fairly long time, but I feel that by saving the firm money I have demonstrated my worth and feel that I have really helped the firm in addition to my day-to-day duties.

SLA role:

In November I was invited to become the blog editor for SLA Europe and consequently a member of the SLA Board and Digital Communications Committee. This is something I am very proud of, as I am sure the quality of my personal blog and my obvious enthusiasm at the SLA annual conference in Chicago last summer played a large part in securing my invitation to the role. I have so far enjoyed attending the board and committee meetings, but I feel that I have a huge amount to learn about how an association is run, particularly as SLA Europe is only a part (or chapter) of the Special Libraries Association, which is currently the world’s leading association for information professionals and special librarians, with over 11,000 professionals around the world. As the blog editor, the most important part of my role is sourcing posts, and I have met a lot of amazing and interesting people (albeit mostly by email), and am getting to know SLA members much more and expand my network even further; which is very useful to me as a new professional and particularly as I am still fairly new to the SLA. Continuing to work for the SLA is something I am very much looking forward to, and I am sure it will provide me with a wealth of experience and will aid my professional development immensely.

SLA Europe

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I feel like I need to warn readers again that this series of professional development posts are for my own personal benefit, to motivate me to reflect specifically on what I have learnt in the first 6 months of my first professional role. They are certainly not entertaining, but may provide an insight in to the role of a new professional in a corporate law firm. This particular post will reflect on what I have learned in the first 6 months of my first professional role.

What have I learned on the Enquiry Desk?

The most useful skills knowledge I have learnt is how to use a number of legal databases; such as Westlaw, Lexis Library, PLC and Lawtel. I have also learnt that it is not so important to already have all of the answers, as to know where to look for them and effective ways of searching for information.

Enquiry DeskI have also become familiar with which documents are needed for anti-money laundering purposes as well as how to locate them for companies inside and outside of the UK. There are a number of tasks which I never imagined I would ever be asked to do, from ordering death certificates to finding the contact details for a Baroness. There are of course a number of things I expected to do that I have now learnt how to do, such as how to conduct a press search and effectively search for cases or legislation. However, despite now having 6 months experience and spend half my working week on the Enquiry Desk, this is also the area I feel I have the most still to learn from, and have been told it will be a matter of years before I become fully confident on the Enquiry Desk.

What have I learnt about journals?

I have developed and added to my knowledge on journal publishing and administration with my current role. I now know the ins and outs of processing invoices, asking partners for authorisation of renewals and cancellations (and how frustrating it can be when they refuse to get back to you), checking licenses and copyright permissions with publishers, and dealing with publishers and agents among many other things.

Books

What have I learnt about book cataloguing?

I have put all I had learnt on my MA regarding cataloguing into practice when cataloguing books. I should clarify that I only catalogue books where we have previous editions, and therefore do not catalogue new books from scratch. Even so, I understand the necessity for precision and attention to detail when cataloguing any changes the new editions have and I really enjoy this aspect of my role.

What have I learnt about know how?

Know how was a term that was never ever explained to me – I suppose it was assumed that I would know what it is. So from profiling know how and precedents for our intranet, I can now tell you that know how can consist of a variation of documents – from client bibles, to journal articles, to Government guidance, to training documents, to template documents covering all sorts of subjects. It is basically any information that may at some point prove useful to another in your organisation, who may be aiding a client on the same topic and may need some expertise on the subject, or may need to create a similar type of document, etc.

Know how

From profiling know how and precedents,I have actually learnt a reasonable amount about what the Banking & Finance and Corporate as departments actually do, which you will probably not be surprised to hear was very mysterious to me 6 months ago!

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