“Just Like the Library”: Exploring the experiences of former library student assistants' post-graduation careers and perceptions of job preparedness as impacted by library work

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Career success is a major component of assessing student success, and at the Universities at Shady Grove (USG), a small campus supporting nine state universities, post-graduation success is understudied. Students employed by USG’s Priddy Library are subject to a professional development (PD) program that emphasizes skill building, professional experiences, and career competencies. This thesis uses interviews from seven former student employees to determine what students retain from the program a year after graduation, to explore their feelings on early career experiences, and to determine what Priddy Library and USG can do to better prepare students for their post-graduation careers. Job satisfaction was most positively correlated with workplace social support and most negatively correlated with overwork. Participants felt overall positively about their experiences at USG and the library, and emphasized the role that social support played in their success. Participants identified many career competencies developed at the library that they continue to use in their post-graduation careers, most notably, customer service, communication, critical thinking, time management, and professionalism. Participants shared feelings of self-doubt and inadequacy despite degree and skill acquisition, indicating that more effort should be made to build students’ professional confidence.