A network for new and aspiring library professionals
Guys, guys, the deadline for the SLA Europe Early Career Conference Awards 2014 is just before midnight on Valentine’s Day. Forget your lovers and apply.
I have won other conference bursaries, because I am a lucky sod and I work hard on my applications, but this is the one.
This is what happened when I won: I met amazing people, I went to California (I’m very narrowly travelled, there’s never been the money for going to the US or similar), I hung out with my fellow ECCA crew, I fell in love with the SLA Europe guys (especially current SLA president Kate Arnold, who is awesome), I watched ridiculous ceremonies and ate a sandwich bigger than my head, I was confused beyond belief about legal knowledge management stuff, learned about amazing library roles and I made contacts on escalators.
SLA is the Glastonbury of conferences. It’s huge, it’s spangly, everyone is there, some people dress bizarrely, you wear a glitzy lanyard around your neck (with your conference badge) and it’s 20 minutes’ walk to that session you were going to go to after this one and everything you so actually you’ll go to the one your new friend is going to or the one in the room you’re in or the one that has free box lunches or the one where you can fit in the room and sit in a chair not on the floor. There is no stone circle and no Kate Moss, sorry. But you can wear an ill-advised hat, if you like.
No, it’s not too early in your career for you to apply. That’s the point of the “early career” bit of the acronym. I was just a few months into my graduate traineeship when I applied. I got in first time, because I was a proactive little monkey. Stop making excuses and get on with it.
Top tips for applying for an ECCA:
1) Take it seriously. This is not something to knock off in ten minutes in your lunch break, it is effectively a job application. An application for the job of SLA Europe ambassador. No, there aren’t any Ferrero Rocher pyramids to be had, though you can take your own, but there’s lots of free candy at US conferences.
2) This means looking at what you can offer SLA Europe and your division, not what they can offer you. Obviously a trip to an overseas conference, all expenses paid, is an awesome prize. It’s easy to say why you want to go. But why should they pick YOU? What have you done that is relevant to the Division you are applying to (this year: Legal, Academic, Leadership & Management)? What will you do when you are there, other than buy lots of sweets and “learn things”? What do you know about SLA? DO SOME RESEARCH, MY LIBRARIAN FRIEND.
3) What will you do for SLA when you come back? Other than write a blog about it. Every past ECCA has volunteered for SLA in some way, what skills and interests can you contribute?
Top tips for applying for awards and bursaries generally:
1) JUST DO IT. Except for the ones I apply for, I don’t like the competition.
2) Again, take the application seriously and don’t do it the night before.
3) Try, try and try again. Not everyone succeeds first time and I’ve been turned down for plenty. No is not no forever.
Top tips for going to SLA:
1) Take gifts for your mentors, it’s only polite. It also meant I could foist Yorkshire delicacies onto people, which is always a good thing.
2) SLA people are the BEST people. And the hierarchy you might observe at UK conferences isn’t there. Go and talk to heads of service as if they were your peers. In SLA, they are. NETWORK LIKE A PRO.
3) They’re not lying about the business cards. Take them. Hand them out. Take other people’s. Follow those leads up.
4) Go for pancakes with your fellow ECCAs, it’s a tradition.
5) Learn how to use Twitter, if you haven’t already.
6) Don’t bring back root beer in glass bottles. Mine didn’t break, but they put my suitcase half a kilo overweight and I was petrified they’d charge me.
7) Do bring back peanut butter M&S and Reese’s Pieces, import shops charge a fortune for that stuff.
8) Eat all the free food you can and swap sessions whenever you fancy.
9) Use the online conference planner, but don’t expect to stick to it. Just work out your must sees.
10) Get all the ribbons on your conference badge you can. Play the European eccentric card if questioned. It totally works.
Thanks to Penny for sharing her tips with the network, and good luck with your applications! If you don’t know what we’re on about, here’s more info.