Information and Library studies

Jamie Sutherland

JamieMasters in Information and Library Studies, RGU, Aberdeen

Degree subject and year of graduation MA Philosophy & Linguistics. Graduation year 2015.

My current work

I am currently a Master’s student in Information & Library Studies at Robert Gordon University. Alongside my studies, I am also volunteering with the Special Collections department at Aberdeen University Library in order to gain additional experience relevant to my chosen career path.

My career history

After graduation, I continued to work in the seasonal role I held during my degree as a tour guide at one of Edinburgh’s major tourist attractions. I additionally applied for a voluntary role working at the Centre for Research Collections at the Main Library in George Square. This experience motivated me to apply for my postgraduate degree which I began in September 2015. I also worked part-time in retail to support myself at the beginning of my degree.

How I use my degree skills and/or knowledge in my career

Studying Philosophy has provided me with analytical skills which have proved invaluable. My chosen career is in a rapidly changing industry and there are numerous theories and proposals from industry professionals concerning how it should adapt for the future. The skills I developed during my degree have allowed me to fully appreciate this debate and approach it in a rational and balanced manner.

The skill I consider to be most valuable is the ability to maintain intellectual charity in approaching other people’s opinions.  It enables me to appreciate why people have different perspectives on key issues and engage with them in a considered and respectful way.

Useful experience

The voluntary experience I acquired was definitely helpful in deciding which career path was right for my skills and values. I also held a number of student society roles during my degree, some of which involved considerable personal responsibility. These roles were certainly the most valuable experience I gained outside of my studies. They taught me the importance of taking responsibility, the ability to organise and manage my time, and the opportunity to work with various kinds of people. I was able to gain opportunities I might not have pursued otherwise such as organising large scale public lectures, providing peer support lectures to groups of 50 students, and even writing my own murder mystery dinner party.

My career decisions

At the end of my degree, I had a rough idea of the type of career I was looking for but a lot of apprehension about taking this path. As I only had a little experience of the industry, committing to a postgraduate degree felt like a risk. I attended a number of university open days where I was able to discuss my options with very helpful academic staff. I was also proactive in contacting people in the field to learn about their career choices. I found that most people were extremely willing to help and this provided me with the information I needed to commit to the first stage in my career.

My advice to students wanting to work in this area

My career area, library and information management, is quite a competitive field – largely due to the popularity of the work thanks to its record of high job satisfaction! I would certainly recommend gaining some experience in the area if possible. This helps you to stand out and also gives you a better appreciation of what the work involves. As it is a specialised-knowledge industry a postgraduate degree is also necessary to qualify for professional jobs in the field.

There are lots of options available. Many people study part time alongside working in a relevant role, or work for a few years before gaining a qualification. If you are interested in this area, don’t feel worried about contacting professionals about your interest. It’s an extremely open and friendly field and people are more than willing to assist.

My advice for students making career decisions today

My advice would be to consider your values and interests and seek out a career which best tunes in with them. Although it sounds trite, it’s important to consider that your career takes up a large part of your adult life so you want it to be something you are devoted to and can make a valuable contribution to.

In terms of practical advice, I would definitely recommend talking to professionals in your chosen area to learn about their choices and experience. It was the most valuable part of my considering what I wanted to do after I graduated.


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