The Person Behind: The One-on-One Resume Help & Career Coaching

We speak to branch manager Lauren Cardinal to find out more about a very special new program at Pine Hills

Finding a new job is a daunting prospect to undertake at any point in your life. It can be difficult to know what employers are looking for – and then there’s the ever-complicated issue of the resume. How many pages should it be? What should you include, and sometimes more importantly what should you leave out?

Before you can even begin the journey of figuring out a resume, there’s the big question of which career path to follow. On average it’s estimated people change careers three to seven times in their professional life. But how do you choose the right one? And once you have, how to you find a job in that field?

Thankfully Albany Public Library has a wealth of resources designed to help with every stage of the job search – from Resume & Computer Help to specially designed Workshops. Pine Hills branch manager Lauren Cardinal wanted to provide even further support by offering dedicated, individual sessions with a career and employment specialist. Thanks to the continuation of the internal grant she was able to do just that.

We sat down with Lauren to find out more….

Thanks for speaking with us Lauren! Can you tell us about your background?

I’ve been at APL for five years in February. I grew up in Albany – right here in Pine Hills actually! My first career was in computer programming, working for a corporation. When I was 30 I quit that and headed to SUNY to study to become a librarian. I worked at Guilderland Public Library, then at Clifton Park-Halfmoon, then this position opened up – I was like I have to get that! I’ve been here ever since.

It’s really nice being part of my old neighborhood. Pine Hills is great  – we’re actually the second busiest branch after Washington Ave. Our children’s room circulates the most material out of all the branches; we have the elementary school right next door and a lot of parents come in with their kids for story time. We also get super busy in the afternoon with middle schoolers and teens too.

What drew you to this profession?

I did computer programming and database processing for a while, and I just got sick of sitting in an office all day. Part of my job was training other people. I really liked that element of it. I’d help people find information and figure out problems. I knew I didn’t want to be in a cubicle anymore and I’ve always loved the library. It’s something different here everyday, you get to talk to people and interact with them. And of course, you get to talk about books!

“When I went to library school I thought I wanted to be an academic librarian, but I took the public libraries class and it just seemed so much more interesting and necessary I guess”

When I went to library school I thought I wanted to be an academic librarian, but I took the public libraries class and it just seemed so much more interesting and necessary I guess. The nice thing about the public library is you’re dealing with people who want to be here. People come here because they want a book, or need help, or want to attend a program. You can make a real difference.

What do you like the most about what you do?

The relationships we have with our regulars. We have the same people come in everyday or the same day of every week – we get to know their schedules and they know us. People are excited (for the most part) to see you. You’re part of the community. Our patrons are all so interesting and different. Even if I’m having a bad day, a regular can come in and elevate my mood.

The program we’re talking about today is One-on-One Resume Help and Career Coaching. What inspired you to come up with this program?

Actually it was two things. First, a big part of our job is helping people with computers. There’s lots of questions about resumes and job applications – from technical queries to format. So I knew there was a definite need there.

Secondly, this program originally came out of a Upper Hudson Library System grant – which is how we found Marsha who leads the sessions. She was one of the people Upper Hudson had connected with, and she came in one night to help people with their resumes. It filled up right away – everyone was very excited and asked us when she’d be coming back.

“It’s not often we get the opportunity to do something like this. Where people can work one-on-one with an experienced professional”

A lot of our programs follow the same format: we get a presenter who gives to talk to a large group… sort of like a lecture. It’s not often we get the opportunity to do something as specialized as this – where people can work one-on-one with an experienced professional. It’s expensive for us, so it’s something hard to fit into our program budget. That’s why the internal grant was so great. I’ve been looking for a way to have her come back and when I found about it, I was like this is perfect! We can do basic resume and tech help, but to have a real experienced professional sit down and help you with your resume and job search… it’s a great opportunity.

Marsha Lazarus will be leading the meetings, can you tell us a little more about her?

She has a ton of experience and a strong background in this particular field. She’s held various roles throughout the capital region related to employment – now she runs her own consulting company Your Career Fit Matters. Plus, the feedback from the patrons the first time she visited was excellent.

What will the program involve?

This is a little different from the kinds of program we usually have. It’s more of a ‘specialized appointment’. It will be the person who signs up and Marsha in a private meeting room, and they will have the full hour of undivided time and attention. They can bring their resume and job materials and have the chance to ask her whatever questions they want.
It doesn’t have to be just resume even – it can be career coaching and job searching advice. If you don’t like your current job and want to figure out what you want to do, she’ll help. The program will run the third Wednesday of every month from March-July, 6pm-8pm, so hopefully we can help a lot of people.

What would you like for the participants to gain from the experience?

I think the most concrete thing would be to use the information to get a new job or improve their career situation. But just as importantly, job searching can grind you down after a while. Even if the result isn’t such a concrete thing like a new job, I want the participants to feel they’re progressing. That they’re headed in right direction and have support.

If you you could sum up the program in three words what would it be

Support, skills, and advancement

Do you have any upcoming programs?

In March we have Leah Penniman from Soul Fire Farm coming in to do a talk. She wrote a book called ‘Farming While Black’. It’s about social injustice, food deserts, activism, agriculture, and being African American. I think it’ll be really great.

How do you come up with ideas for programs?

They kind of have a momentum of their own you know? Every quarter I think, what am I going to do? Then people start making their way here. Things end up flowing in the doors and presenting themselves. We have presenters come in offering ideas or emailing us, our outreach coordinator will send us over ideas, and we’ll steal things from other branches by talking with other librarians.

“Every quarter I think, what am I going to do? (…) Things end up flowing through the doors”

It’s important to see what works at your branch – for us any art program fills up so we added more. Now we have regular art classes – Adult Craft, a Saturday Art Group. They’re all full. Our patronage base really likes that kind of stuff – which is not to say we don’t want to do other things too. Every now and again we throw something new in to see if it sticks. We also have a Science Cafe which is pretty popular. We get professors from SUNY Albany, they come and talk about the the Boson particle, or the theory of relativity, or something else science related. They always have a good turnout. It’s funny what works and what it doesn’t, but that’s all part of the process.  

If you’re looking for guidance in your career or want specialized assistance building your resume, contact the reference desk at Pine Hills 518-482-7911 (x2) to sign up for an appointment with Marsha. 

The program will run the third Wednesday of every month from March-July, 6pm-8pm.

For more information about how to support the APL Foundation, click here