If you are anything like the LIS students in my cohort, and those in the preceding or succeeding cohorts, you are wonderful in every way, shape, or form. Congratulations on taking the step towards obtaining your MLIS, congratulations on combating the stereotypes of our field, and congratulations on becoming the greatest type of professional that ever was.
Here are some feelings I had during my last term of the program, and my responses to those feelings from where I am now:
I'm going to be finished the program soon, but I don't know how to not be a student!
You are on the verge of facing adulthood and the real world. Congratulations on achieving this stage in your life. Now, go and apply for jobs. The job search is a daunting thing, but you need to do it to reach the next level. It can be discouraging at times, and you can feel like you're not good enough, but believe me, you are. The thing about job hunting is that you need to keep your options open and your head held high. Also, remember that the worst that could happen is they say no. Don't talk yourself out of applying for a job, because you aren't even on the selection committee! Let them decide for themselves whether or not you're a good fit. Don't shy away from contract jobs. They will provide you with some skill building and experience, that you can carry with you later on into your career! Don't bank solely on permanent employment unless you have several years of LIS work experience from prior to getting the degree. Don't shy away from applying for permanent positions either.
I don't know what to fix on my resumes and cover letters, but I'm afraid that my friends will judge me for having a poorly-constructed application package...
Put your application package through the wringer. It's nice if you have some close friends from the LIS program, or if you have a mentor or a few in the field who could help you look things over. Don't worry so much about being judged, because your application is being created for the purpose of being judged. The nice thing about approaching people you know to help revise your writing, is that you can discuss things casually with them, and they probably get you more than an employer who doesn't know you (yet) does.
I didn't do a co-op...maybe I should have done a co-op...
Part of the reason why I chose to go to Western to do my MLIS was because of the co-op program. I was set on doing a co-op, preferably self-arranged, but I ended up not, and completed my degree within a calendar year instead. I had semi-success with self-arranging a co-op in my last term, but both opportunities were with the Government of Alberta, and they weren't able to get back to me until the day I moved back to London for a final term. To make up for not doing a co-op, I spent my second and third term by joining multiple student groups, volunteering here and there, and finding a part-time job in a library, while attending classes. Co-op is great from what I've heard, but it's not the be-all-end-all of getting a job in the field. Worry not!
I feel like I've lost my LIS network because I'm not in London anymore. What am I supposed to do now?
If you worked or volunteered before going to London for your MLIS, you do have a network. Reconnect with your previous employers, supervisors, colleagues, coworkers, and friends, and work to maintain those relationships. Remember all of those student groups you were affiliated with? Most of them are student branches of larger organizations. If you haven't already, join the organization as a member, sign up for their list-servs, subscribe to their blogs, follow them on Twitter, and attend their events/sessions/workshops. In a lot of cases, you can still qualify to be a "student member" if it's within a year of your graduation from the program. Networking is not, I repeat, not overrated. (In fact, I got all of my jobs through networking to some degree, but that story should be a separate blog post.)
I am so tired. The program was incredibly draining, and I really can't keep pumping out 5-10 applications a day.
Take a breather every now and then, or even take off a week. Library school was crazy and you made it through, but your body and brain are probably not caught up to speed just yet. Yes, you need to get some job applications done, but don't wear yourself out. You want to make sure that each application you send out is an accurate representation of you as a professional, and not sub-par. Do things that you enjoy doing and haven't gotten to do in a while because of school. When you start working, you might not have as much time to do those things. For me, it was going on food adventures, looking at vintage shops, catching up on TV shows, playing the piano, and blogging. Do those things every now and then, so that you don't resent the job search. You can do it! I believe in you!
I hope that my conversation with my past self can offer you some encouragement, reassurance, and inspiration. And honestly, feel free to contact me. I check my email all-too-regularly, and love connecting with fellow MLIS'ers.
Stay strong and good luck!