Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Don't wait for a rescue

There are lots of posts (like this one) and articles (like this one) about is it a recession or a depression, how long will it last, etc. The only uniform answer is, we don't know. No matter how much knowledge a person has, or expertise in the area, that is the one certainty: we have none.

But there is one constant theme in all of this analysis that is beginning to make me nuts: The Obama Effect (Let Me Google That For You). Obama supposedly has had an effect on the campaign, on the confrontation in Gaza, and now, he will have an effect on the economy, (etc.)--possibly for the better. And his and the plans of his advisors will have an effect on the individual, so the Obama Effect is not all hot air.

But, in case you're confused, Obama's dad was from Kenya, not Krypton. The only person who will save you is you. If you're in school and you're worried about the future, this is what you need to do:
  1. Check your bank balances and start saving, especially if you have no savings. Try this rule: with the exception of cost of living needs, if a desired item costs more than you make in an hour, don't buy it, eat it, visit it, view it, or hang it on your wall.
  2. Don't buy anything else on credit since you will just have to pay it off later, with interest. Put your credit card in the freezer until you need it to buy bus or plane tickets to interviews or conferences. See suggestions #13 and #15 on ways to save money on traveling.
  3. Look for ways to bring down your personal costs.
  4. If you have a student loan, some lenders make sure you go through a consultation about repayment. Find out about getting one booked and learn about the repayment process, especially if your lender has a program for loan remission.
  5. Ruthlessly squeeze every cent out of your tax return. See if there is a student service that will help you file for free or cheap.
  6. Is your resume ready to go? If not, complete it and have it proofread by the end of this month.
  7. What are the job resources available to you in your state or province? Does your library school have a job search library? Have you made job searching part of your daily schedule?
  8. Ask your current employer about the prospects for extending your job into the summer or the likelihood of a position after you graduate. Do not believe gossip--cut backs or increases--go directly to the person who has hiring authority. Find out about their hiring plans and find out how you can become a candidate.
  9. Subscribe to the appropriate listservs that have job postings in the field you are interested in.
  10. Have you spoken with your references, or your internship/co-op coordinator or supervisor? Did you remind them that you are on the market and would be grateful for any advice (read  job leads) that they could send you?
  11. If you are thinking about relocating, start using vertical search engines and niche job boards in that province or state and start applying for work.
  12. Next month have a mock interview with a real professional interviewer and polish your skills. Get honest feedback, not from a person who loves you or forgot to give you a Valentine.
  13. Does your web cam work? Do you know how to get it to work if it works but you have never used it? You can keep down interviewing and traveling costs by checking to see if your web cam is ready for action. [Sheesh, not that kind of action.]
  14. Attend a session on negotiation so you can learn how to deal with HR, interviewers, bankers and landlords, so you can negotiate in regards to rent, repayment and salaries. You will need these skills if you have to work in purchasing or licensing in any library that has contracts with external companies (like, all of them) so now is the time to learn and practice, practice, practice.
  15. Take advantage of as many free or low cost services that you can use right now, as a student. First of all, take advantage of the student rate to go to library conferences that have a career fair so you can hit at least ten potential employers, and get through some screening interviews.
    Most of you with experience in taking care of yourselves will have already taken these steps; for others, these are new, or you're not used to doing so much at one time. Think about that: do it now, and check them off one at a time, or wait 'til you graduate and add, buy Maalox, to the list.

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