What does NLS mean to me?
I still vividly remember the feeling I had walking into the conference room at the very first NLS in Brisbane in 2002. The energy, enthusiasm and passion in the room was HIGH and SO different to any other professional event I’d been to. This was back in the days before Twitter, Facebook or PLNs, and at that point there wasn’t even an ALIA New Graduates Group – no way for new graduates to easily connect and share experiences across the country. So for me, NLS was initially all about the real personal value of connecting with a wide professional peer group, to share ideas, goals, questions & inspiration (and of course, a cocktail or two!)
Later, when I convened the 2nd NLS in Adelaide in 2004, NLS was also a great learning experience in how to put up my hand and take risks, work within a national organisation like ALIA, work with a large committee, manage a significant budget, source international speakers and collaborate with some amazing and dynamic colleagues. It gave me a depth of experience which I never would have gained in my day-job, and I think helped me step up to a management role more quickly than I otherwise would. 10 years later, I look back and realise that it was through NLS that I formed really valuable professional relationships, networks and friendships that are still important today and will last me throughout my career.
Why did I get involved in NLS?
Well, I am someone who likes to volunteer for things – I’m not sure you could have stopped me! 😉 It was a frustrating time to be a new graduate employment-wise, but rather than complaining, I wanted to do something positive. I was really excited to be involved at a time where there were a lot of new developments at ALIA for new graduates – NGAC had just been established, work was just beginning on a New Graduates Group, and ALIA leadership were extremely supporting and encouraging of new grads. It was immensely satisfying to be involved in all of these initiatives and now, years later, it’s great to see new grads are now strongly represented on local groups, committees and advisory committees throughout the Association. There are lots of possibilities to make a difference by getting involved, and it is rewarding to see the end results.
How would I like to see NLS develop?
I think it is up to each generation of new grads to define where they want NLS to go and what role they need it to play. The environment has changed a lot from 2002, and there are more ways a new graduate can feel connected and engaged with their peers now than were available to us ten years ago. However, I’d hope that NLS continues to offer a space where new grads can get together, share ideas, contribute and feel welcomed into the wider profession. I think it’s also a fantastic supportive place where new grads can test out their budding presentation skills among peers. I would note that it is important to see NLS as just an entrance, not the whole professional experience! The NLS vibe is often so enjoyable that some people would rather stay in the “new graduate” zone when in fact it can be the first of many steps into the profession as a whole and all that it can offer.
Kate (second from the left in both photos) with other NLS convenors and committee members