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Event Report: Crafting a Personal Brand workshop with Chris Olson

Student volunteer Kendall Barksdale

Student volunteer Kendall Barksdale

[Note: The following guest post was contributed by Kendall Barksdale, a student volunteer and participant at our workship with Chris Olson.]

I am Kendall Barksdale from Harlem, New York and a senior English major at Clark Atlanta University. When I began studying English my pursuit was to become an editor of books and magazines, and an author of poetry and children’s books. However, during my sophomore year at Clark Atlanta University, I was introduced to the field of Library Science though the Mellon-funded internship: Recruiting Tomorrow’s Library Leaders (RTLL) Program coordinated by the Atlanta University Center (AUC) Robert W. Woodruff Library. RTLL participating institutions included: Clark Atlanta University, Morehouse College, Spelman College, Bennett College, Dillard University, and Johnson C. Smith University. During this internship, I realized that I could still become an editor and writer while pursuing a career in library science.

As an RTLL intern in spring semester 2012, I worked on a video project at the AUC Woodruff Library that focused on the stereotypes of libraries and librarianship though the perspectives of students and librarians. For the video project, my mentors at Woodruff scheduled interviews for me and my fellow interns at the Coca-Cola Company Archives and Georgia Tech Library. I had the opportunity to learn about what librarians and archivists do through these interviews. From my visit to the Coca-Cola Archives, I received a summer internship there.

My experience as a Coca-Cola archivist intern is what really motivated me to want to work in the archives field and solidified my decision to become an archivist as a career choice. Holding, analyzing, and rehousing Coca-Cola artifacts that were decades older than me fascinated me, especially when I connected the events in the pictures and documents to today. This is when I knew I wanted to become an archivist, which would not have been possible if it were not for the AUC Woodruff Library RTLL Program. I also attended the AUC Woodruff Library 2013 RTTL Summer Institute which provided the opportunity to network with professionals in the library and archives field. It was a great experience and I enjoyed the panel talks and hearing from different leaders.

Through the AUC Woodruff Library RTLL program, I also had the privilege of attending the Special Library Association Georgia workshop on March 16, 2013 on Georgia Tech’s campus where I volunteered and participated in the “Crafting a Personal Brand” workshop. The workshop lasted from 9am until 2pm, but during this small time frame, I learned an abundance of information on how to professionally and personally brand myself. I also had the opportunity to network with other librarians, such as archivists that shared their interesting work experiences with me. This experience reminded me of one of the class sessions of the RTLL Program, in which we learned about the importance of branding and marketing a company and oneself.

The host of the workshop, Chris Olson, was very energetic and informational. She taught us what to consider when making business cards, how to professionally speak while keeping one’s attention, presenting on a specific topic, and ways to leave a long lasting impression. My favorite part of the workshop was when Ms. Olson divided us into pairs and we had to create a 1 minute elevator speech of what we would say to an employer of our field of interest for possible hiring. This activity was very challenging because we were required to state a little information about ourselves, our interest and qualifications of that job, while keeping the employer’s attention and leaving an impression. This activity was very beneficial to me because it taught me how to sell myself to an employer in an awkward setting with limited amount of time, while being brief and stating pertinent information about myself as a potential employee. After twenty minutes of preparing our speech, my group mate and I acted out my scenario, in which she was a publisher and I was trying to convince the publisher to take a look at some of my writing samples for possible publishing. I enjoyed seeing each groups’ presentation and the creativity that they used.

One thing that left a long-lasting impression on me was when Ms.Olson stated that because of her shortened name and the way she spells Chris, many people do not know her gender until they meet. She said that people are surprised that she is a female, and that she purposely does this to leave her impression. Another statement that caught my attention was when Ms. Olson told us that whenever she gives presentation she coordinates the colors she wears that day to the colors of her business card as a way of branding herself. I thought this was brilliant and excellent ways of making people remember her. When the workshop concluded everyone received a certificate of participation.

Today I carry with me key aspects of branding that I learned from the SLA Georgia workshop and from the RTLL class session on branding and marketing. Being a member of the AUC Woodruff Library RTLL program taught me many important attributes of professionalism, career choice, and personal characteristics that contribute to the field of librarianship. If it were not for the AUC Woodruff Library RTLL program, I would have never discovered my passion for archives or would have decided on a career within the field of librarianship.

Kendall J. Barksdale
Senior English Major
Clark Atlanta University
Digital Archives Student Assistant
Robert W. Woodruff Library

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