Friday, August 21, 2015

Thoughts On Changing Institutions

Last year I went on the market and landed a few amazing interviews. I am at a new institution, and I can't help but ponder the transition.

One article that recently struck me is from InsideHigherEd. While the focus is on shedding the grad student persona, many of the tenants rang true for me as I transitioned to a new role at a new institution. The author offered the following advice, in part:
Graduate students tend to display the classic signs of submission -- tilted head (ref: your puppy), bowed shoulders, tightly crossed legs, weak and vague hand gestures, a tentative, questioning tone. You have a wimpy, cold-fish handshake. You avoid direct eye contact. Above all, you ramble in an unfocused and evasive way. Few people have all of these traits, but most have some.
Square your shoulders, straighten your back, lift your chin and loosen your elbows. Take up all the space in the chair. Make direct eye contact. Do not fuss with your hair, clothes or jewelry. Speak in a firm, level tone. Smile in a friendly way at the beginning and end, but not too much while you’re talking about your work. Beware of mumbling, rambling and trailing off indistinctly. Lastly, attend to your handshake. Get up from your chair, go find a human and shake their hand. Shake it firmly.

I would presuppose that many law librarians have a similarly submissive persona because of the position that we hold in the law school community. Not only can this advice be given to grad students entering the job market, it can be given to law librarians starting jobs or moving institutions. 

Ultimately succeeding in a new position at a new institution, in particular, requires social skills. In most academic law librarian positions, it requires the ability to move across country and find your place in a demanding law school environment. And confidence is key- particularly for women. Fake it 'til you make it, so they say. 

These are good reminders for me as a reflect on my first months in a new position. The work is challenging and wonderful. After being with the same group for over 8 years at my previous institution, it's quite a shock to the system to get to know new colleagues and make new friends. 

2 comments:

  1. That's just great advice for anyone! I've been very passive and uncertain at my current position, in part because *OMG, I'VE NEVER WORKED FOR A JUDGE BEFORE! SCARY!* and am finally finding my footing. I worked at the same 2-person office for a long time in the past and then went to other 2-person operations where I knew the person well, so getting involved in a court system was quite daunting. (I still don't know half of these people's names!)

    Personally, in the little bit I got to know you outside the classroom, you seemed very approachable and to be the sort of person that I'd be friends with -- good sense of humor, you like good music, etc. While it's good to be assertive and professional, that human connection will *always* be important!

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  2. Great tips and thanks for posting!

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