On May 25th, we concluded our third year of participation in the Education and Development Grant for Employability (EDGE) Program with the University Library EDGE Team Poster Session and Reception. Like last year, our students used the event to reflect on their experiences in the Library and to practice promoting themselves and their professional skills. As participants in EDGE, DePaul University’s award-winning financial aid initiative, our team of six students spent the year discovering more about themselves, university programs designed to help them in the classroom (and beyond), and library services through a series of projects and workshops. Ultimately, they also learned how to parlay their EDGE experiences into job opportunities on campus and in the community.
A variety of “departments, occupations, and resources.”
Our team’s first project each year is to learn about the Library itself. Most team members are surprised by the range of services and variety of functions performed in a university library. Our students go from “picturing the Library as nothing more than a room full of books, desks and chairs,” to a deeper understanding of our instructional mission, our range of collections, as well as our technology infrastructure and innovative spaces, like the Maker Hub. They also get a glimpse of the diverse – and non-book related! – professional skills required for work in a library.
“I learned that the purpose of libraries is … to foster community.”
Our biggest annual project, planning celebrations for both National Library Week and National Poetry Month, only reinforces their new perspective on the Library. EDGE team members developed skills in marketing, event planning, outreach, as well as graphic design while promoting the Library’s services and collections. Notably, they also chose to highlight the Library’s position as a center of campus life and a resource for student success. In a web site usability project, team members used analysis and problem-solving skills to improve the typical user’s experience locating information through the Library’s web site, “with the intention of benefiting the entire DePaul community.”
“I actually have employable qualities.”
Not least among the program’s goals, EDGE students should develop transferable and marketable job skills, no matter which departmental team they join. In the Library, we work to ensure that skills promoted across the EDGE program complement the transferable skills embedded in information literacy instruction for first-year students. EDGE-sponsored workshops ensure each student also knows how to describe all of these new skills effectively in a resume, and where to look for campus employment. Fifty-eight per cent of EDGE students who participated in the program in 2015-2016 were employed by the end of the program. By the time of the University Library EDGE Team Poster Session and Reception, 83% of Library EDGE Team members had obtained jobs.
“I learned that the library is more than a place to study. It is a key to success here at DePaul.”
Over the past three years, EDGE team members have not only helped to lead important engagement initiatives for the DePaul University Library, but have served as ambassadors for library service among their classmates. We have learned as much from them as they have from us, and we wish our EDGE Team continued success in both their academic and professional careers!