With apologies to E. M. Forster, “only connect” has been occupying a lot of brain space for me lately as I look back on two years of managing the LinkedIn LIS Career Options group. What I had launched as part of an SLA conference presentation, assuming it might grow to (perhaps?) 35 or 50 people, has become a forum for 3,685 members from over 50 countries engaging in over 450 discussion topics.
I’m trying to figure out how to start off a blog post when I’ve been missing in action for months (good grief, was my last post really November 27th???). Yep, that would be about the time that I was going all-out to finish up my manuscript (LIS Career Sourcebook: Managing and Maximizing Every Step of Your Career, Libraries Unlimited, to be released in late fall this year). Then it was the holidays, and then I basically just decided to read and think and reflect. (Is there a better way to spend winter?)
The longer you work, sooner or later it’s going to happen to you: the major mess-up. You did something that was the result of perhaps not quite paying attention, missing a major detail, skipping a step in a work process to beat a deadline, or figuring that it wouldn’t really make that much difference if you just relied on someone else’s information rather than verifying it for yourself. The result: a classic screw up, the kind that’s going to be embarrassing at best, send your boss through the roof at worst.
This has been a great year for conversations about “equity” – political equity, financial equity (or not), social equity.
From a conceptual standpoint, equity refers to how much investment you’ve built for a given asset, which might be your political reputation and influence, the value of your home relative to your mortgage, or the amount of standing and influence you have in your community of choice.
From a career standpoint, professional equity is a combination of the job skills, expertise, and experience you’ve accumulated, the relationships you’ve developed, and the reputation you’ve built so far in your career.
Recently I’ve been part of a discussion taking part in the classroom, on the LIS Career Options LinkedIn group, and among LIS friends and colleagues about how to respond to people who bash others’ decisions to pursue an MLIS. Some of the variations:
• You need a master’s degree to work in a library?
• You’ll never get a job (or one that pays anything)
• It’s stupid to go to graduate school at your age
• What on earth are you going to do with that?
• Are there even go to be libraries anymore?
• Why would you need a degree in that, everything’s on the Internet!
I wrote this post for Rethinking Information Careers a couple of years ago, but just found myself in a conversation on this topic with several former students about to graduate. So I thought it might be useful to revisit this issue for all of those about to complete their degrees and start the job search…I hope it’s helpful!
Recently I had an opportunity to work with a young woman who had just graduated from an MLIS program. She was unsure of how to proceed with her job search given the precarious job market for librarians (and everybody else).
This young woman had never worked in a library before, and, like many of us when we complete our degrees, wanted to get a job in the same town where her university was located. But the reality is that with little or no library experience and facing the stiff competition that comes in an area flooded with fellow MLIS graduates, this young woman’s job prospects would be dim at best.
In fact, probably her best opportunities lie in a direction often avoided if not dismissed by recent grads: working for a library in Smalltown, USA.