Interview with Latesha Valez, MLS ’10

Latesha Valez graduated from NCCU SLIS in May 2010.  Here’s her story!
1. What is your current position, and what are your duties?

I’m back to being a student. I’m currently in the PhD program at the University of Illinois at Urbana Champaign. For my research assistantship I work with Dr. Jon Gant and the Center for Digital Inclusion.

2. How did studying at NCCU SLIS help you prepare for your current work?

I was lucky enough to get to know some of the faculty and administrators pretty well.  They helped me not only during school but after.  They really remained a positive network of people I could count on for advice, introductions to others in the field, references, etc. I also took classes that gave me both a practical knowledge base, i.e. how to actually perform the work of a librarian, and a theoretical one, conceptualizations of library as place and the role of library and information science in society and knowledge creation.

3. What are your career goals?

I feel like I have to experience things before I can really answer that. I know that where ever I end up I want to have an administrative role. Despite its inequalities, I LOVE academia so I know I want to end up in an academic library or teaching. I have not experience teaching yet so I’m looking forward to teaching while here at UIUC GSLIS.

4. What advice would you give to students going through library school right now?
Remember that your professors and the administrators are not JUST your professors and administrators, they are your future colleagues; act accordingly. People talk (even professors and administrators) and the LIS field is even smaller than you may think. If people are going to talk about you, try to make sure that what they say is positive. That starts NOW.

5. What advice would you give library students about jobhunting in the library field?

Some of the same as above, like I said my professors and Dean Owens provided references.  Also remember when applying for jobs to make it clear in your cover letters that you want THAT job, not just a job.  You are a librarian, an information specialist, so they will expect you to have looked them up and have information about their organizational culture, mission, and goals.  Your cover letter should not be about regurgitating in paragraph form everything that’s on your resume. It is your opportunity to explain how what is on your resume and who you are as a person can help them achieve their organizational goals.  And, side tip, look for someone to address your cover letter to.  You may not find them but look, the contact name on the job announcement, HR manager, someone, search committees don’t like “To whom it may concern”.

6. What advice would you give to people considering applying to library school?

Just do it. Seriously though, it can lead to a myriad of other careers beside just working in a library. We have people from Google, Yahoo, and the museum world in my cohort. I love libraries, but the field is not limited to them. Corporations need information specialists to so you can also make a good living, if that is a concern or deterrent.

7. What book(s) are you currently reading?

That’s a funny one. Remember I’m in school so nothing new and exciting. Some of the more interesting class requirements are:

Marx and Engels Reader

Daulatzai, Sohail. 2012. Black Star, Crescent Moon : The Muslim International and Black Freedom beyond America.

Holland, Sharon Patricia. 2012. The erotic life of racism.

Ferguson, Roderick A. 2012 The reorder of things : the university and its pedagogies of minority difference (Difference incorporated)


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