CILIP (Chartered Institute of Library and Information Professionals) recently conducted a small survey of current Library and Information Science (LIS) students to establish how they make their career decisions. How do they decide which sector they want to work in? Where do they look for information and guidance? The short survey was sent to all CILIP student members and also distributed via LIS learning provider contacts. We received 48 responses.
The first question we asked was “Have you already decided on a particular sector you would most like to work in after completing your studies?: 81% of respondents had already decided upon a sector with 6 of the 48 respondents (13%) identifying Health as their sector of interest.
We were interested in finding out where students look for information and guidance when making their decisions (respondents were not limited to one selection).
CILIP was by far the most popular choice with 21 of the 48 citing CILIP itself, in addition CILIP’s jobs board Lisjobnet received 7 specific mentions and the CILIP Special Interest Groups were also mentioned 5 times. Away from CILIP, the next most popular sources were: colleagues (10 mentions), social media (7 mentions) and Blogs (5 mentions) and the website jobs.ac.uk (5 mentions). There were a variety of other sources, including Health Education England, with 4 or less mentions.
As well as knowing where students were looking, we also wanted to know in what format they liked to access the information. 46 respondents answered this question and they were not limited to one selection. Blogs were the most popular format with 91% of respondents identifying them, the next most popular answer “Forums” was identified by 30% of respondents. Books remained relatively popular too with 26% of respondents citing them. Webinars, leaflets and podcasts were identified by 17%, 4% and 2% of respondents respectively.
What was interesting was that we gave respondents an “other” option and in here we found evidence that it is one to one advice that they value. Under “other” they listed: Asking established professionals, asking classmates, face to face discussion, open days and Twitter. This, along with the popularity of blogs as a format, highlight that it is discussion and personal endorsement, whether online or face to face, that students are seeking to support their decision making. This was further evidenced when we asked the students what other resources they would like to have available: “A day in the life of”, career mentors, information on transferable skills, interviews with people in different sectors. It is therefore well worth knowing then that Knowledge for Healthcare is developing resources detailing the different LKS roles in health and social care to act as career guides and CILIP’s soon to be launched Careers Hub will provide this content across the sectors.
The survey, though small has provided useful insight into how we could approach student engagement. Recent contact with LIS learning providers has highlighted that some students are already working in their chosen sector before undertaking their qualifications. Future surveys might want to separate responses from those already decided on sector when beginning their course and those who are yet to decide, or be persuaded.
Jo Cornish, Development Officer at CILIP