The 2018 CILIP Conference was the second CILIP conference I’ve attended. And like the 2016 CILIP conference, I learnt loads. What, for me, sets the two CILIP conferences apart from other professional events is how much I’ve got from what Jo Wood called in her podcast “the bits in between” – all the conversations, twitter chat and stuff that happens beyond the keynotes, seminars and workshops in the programme.
These are my reflections on some of the big things that I got out of “the bits in between” at the CILIP conference 2018.
No longer new
I realised at the conference that I no longer feel I identify with the label “new professional”.
When I saw all the tweets from people saying how excited they were to be going to their first conference / first CILIP conference it reminded me about how I had felt a few years ago, but I didn’t feel part of the club. Conferences don’t make me feel nervous anymore; I feel I know what I’m doing when it comes to conferences.
Then there was the networking workshop in the first breakout session at the conference. It’s awesome that it happened and I understand that people at all stages in their career can struggle with networking, but for me I looked at the session and thought “that would have been really useful to me last time I was here, but not now”. It made me think about how I’ve changed and developed in the past few years.
There’s also how I feel in my job. I’ve been in the role I’m in now for two and a half years, and I now have a permanent contract. I feel settled in my role. My CPD and improvements I work on for my service are part of an ongoing process of continual improvement, rather than getting myself up to speed or setting up the service. I think the confidence I now have in myself as a professional, which I didn’t really have before, has also made a difference to how I see myself. This confidence comes from experience – not just of getting things right, but of dealing with the situation when things go wrong.
I started working in the LIS world as a graduate trainee in 2011 and studied for my MA in 2012/13. So in terms of years I seem the fit the “standard” definition of 5-years post-qualification for when you stop being a new professional. But really, I think it’s down to how you see yourself.
So, if I’m no longer a new professional what am I? After a short conversation on twitter I’m settling for ‘established professional’ and will be trying to embrace my new professional self-identity in the coming months.
CILIP: the team and how it works
An unexpected benefit of the conference was meeting lots of the CILIP team and getting to know a bit more about how CILIP works. Some of the CILIP staff I’d met before, but others I’d only ever ‘met’ as the name at the end of an email and it was lovely to be able to put faces to those names. Making personal connections with CILIP staff will, I think, make me more comfortable when I want to reach out and contact the organisation. Knowing there are friendly faces at the other end of the email black hole is always a good thing 🙂
I also spent one lunchtime talking to two of the CILIP trustees, Dawn Finch and Leon Bolton, finding out more about what the CILIP Board is and how decisions are made. I must admit I was pretty ignorant of CILIP’s governance before. The board is made up of members of CILIP coming from a range of sectors, backgrounds and perspectives. Having chatted to Dawn and Leon I feel confident that they really do want to represent the views of us as the membership. Unfortunately, I wasn’t able to make it to the open meeting of the board but think it’s great that this is now happening at the conference making it much more easily accessible to the large number of CILIP members at the conference.
One of the things I realised bumping into several old contacts at the conference, is that although I’m perfectly happy meeting and chatting to people at events, and I’d say pretty good at networking, I’m not very good at keeping in touch with people after the event if I’m not actively working with. I don’t have the answers to this, but I’ve added it to my list of things to work on.