Edinboro alumna Adaena Tray talks to English students about career paths

Category:  News
Wednesday, November 8th, 2017 at 5:19 PM

Edinboro University hosted a Lunch and Learn event for English majors on Oct. 31 with alumna Adaena Tray. She graduated from Edinboro University in 2004 with a bachelor’s degree in English writing. Tray then went on to obtain her Master of Library and Information Science (MLIS) from the University of Pittsburgh in 2005. She now works as the director of Green Tree Public Library in Pittsburgh. 

Tray began the presentation by sharing her personal story and the many lessons she had learned before she was set upon the English path. Her graduation from high school was delayed due to her not passing her senior English class and a series of other misadventures in Florida. She then realized her education was not something to be wasted, and once she obtained her diploma, she attended Edinboro University of Pennsylvania. 

Tray was initially a nutrition major, but changed her major to English and was eventually awarded “English Scholar of the Year” during her senior year at Edinboro. She moved to Pittsburgh upon graduating and worked as a waitress amongst other odd jobs before she found her place at Green Tree Public Library.

Being a library director requires several qualifications and skill sets. In order to get into the position, you must first acquire a bachelor’s degree in just about any subject, and a MLIS degree. Clarion, Drexel and University of Pittsburgh are the three Pennsylvanian schools that offer an American Library Association (ALA) certified master’s program in library science. 

As a library director, Tray essentially runs a non-profit organization that looks to benefit the public and she oversees all daily operations of the library. She cited several important skills for those looking for a library career, such as communicating effectively, being able to work with many people, the ability to streamline processes, organization, and creativity in order to handle problems as they arise, as well as the ability to develop programs and services for the library to offer.

Daily tasks include helping patrons, keeping things clean, “weeding” books that are dated or unpopular, hosting events, managing the front desk, and reporting budgets and funds to the government.

According to Tray, in addition to hosting community events, libraries are a bridge for people without computer access to be able to work. Even in suburban Pittsburgh, computers can be a luxury that not everyone can afford, but libraries offer the service for free, she explained. 

For those seriously considering a library occupation, Tray gave some pointers that would make your resume or cover letter stand out. She explained that citing a love for books and reading is often not enough in a cover letter; you must have something to show for that love. She suggests creating a book club, a blog or podcast, or hosting a community benefit or fundraiser. Tray also suggested volunteering or working part-time at your public library in order to gain experience. 

These suggestions are not just limited to those looking at library positions; this can be applied to any job. According to Tray, it’s imperative to manifest your passions into physical actions, and there is much to be learned and applied to future jobs in anything that you do. 

“Everything you do leads to the next thing” said Monica Clem, who is a staff member in the Center for Career Development. 

Tray’s story and experience in her career gave English majors and more a better understanding of where they can go with their degrees. By overcoming obstacles and working hard, Tray now leads a happy and successful career as a public library director and brings something special to her community with every book shelved and page turned. 

Livia Homerski can be reached at eupnews.spectator@gmail.com.

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