The New Information Professional by Lawson, Kroll, and Kowatch
Thanks to a recommendation from Ge Ge at Variegated Stacks, I recently checked out a really interesting blog called Hack Library School, an online resource “by, for and about library school students.” It’s the brainchild of Micah Vandegrift, a soon-to-graduate LIS student at Florida State University, and is based on the following ideas:
The good news: we know anecdotally that there are LOTS of jobs out there that would be perfect for those of us who have LIS skills. The bad news: those job include titles that make it really, really hard to figure out how to search for them.
Recently I asked the members of the LinkedIn LIS Career Options group to suggest some search terms that we could use to create a LinkedIn jobs feed for the group. We quickly came face-to-face with the dilemma that faces everyone in the profession: We know what our skills are and what we can do with them, but what do other employers call them?
Soon-to-be-grads are starting to look for jobs, and many who’d targeted public or academic jobs are finding few opportunities. They are, however, finding other jobs that could make use of their skills. If they take these non-traditional-library jobs, will they damage their ability to land future jobs in traditional libraries should those jobs open up?
To paraphrase the oh-so-elegant Babe Paley, you can never be too rich or have too many terrific books on LIS career options. Two of the best ones on alternative LIS paths are A Day in the Life: Career Options in Library and Information Science (Priscilla K. Shontz and Richard Murray, Libraries Unlimited, 2007) and What’s the Alternative? Career Options for Librarians and Info Pros (Rachel Singer Gordon, Information Today, 2008).
Recently I’ve had several conversations with friends, colleagues, and a couple of nieces and nephews who’ve made it to the final cut of a job candidacy, only to learn, after several rounds of interviews, that the other applicant was hired. Their reactions have understandably ranged from disappointment to frustration to resignation (okay, with a couple of double scotches mixed in).
But even though these reactions make complete sense, they’re not likely to help advance friends and family members toward their ultimate goal of landing that great job. Instead, here’s the approach I recommended they consider:
Ah, where was I before all hell broke loose, which is another way of saying before I started teaching this past fall? The double whammy of teaching my alternative LIS careers course for the University of Denver and then the holidays means that it’s been an embarrassingly long time since I last posted.
Perfect timing for a New Year’s resolution to be a more diligent blogger, yes? Maybe, maybe not.
Creating a dynamic career is often a mix of good luck, hard work, and an ability to position yourself smack in the middle of the “path of opportunity” – that spot where cool new things are happening, and someone needs to take charge. If that’s where you’d like to be, consider the following four actions to get things moving:
In fact, I think he completely missed the mark with his “There are no second acts in American lives” remark. On the contrary, we are completely capable of reinventing ourselves – and our careers – on an ongoing basis.
Sometimes it happens just by accident. You start out doing one job, and then you end up being the person who just happens to be good at that new thing that needed to be done, and your career takes off heading in a new direction. Or you volunteer for a project and then realize that you not only love the new work you’re doing, you’re also pretty darn good at it – so you keep doing it. Or you’re promoted into a position that at first feels way over your head but then ends up being a perfect match for your growing professional skills. In each instance, you’re reinventing your career.
Other times, however, reinventing yourself – creating that next act – becomes a purposeful choice. Perhaps you’ve simply outgrown the job you’ve been in for years, and are ready to explore the question of what type of work or work environment might re-engage you. Or perhaps a change in your job (new boss? new leadership? new expectations? new mission?) has left you feeling like it’s time to consider other, more rewarding, options. Or perhaps your personal circumstances have changed, so that what worked for you previously no longer meets your requirements.
For whatever reason, you’re ready to reinvent your career.
Sara Mooney has managed to combine a love of theater with her LIS skills in a highly unusual job, with a highly innovative organization. She managed to follow her own interests while also doing a great job of creating business value wherever she went. Her comments about her job and her eclectic career path:
What is your current position or professional role?
Technical Documentalist for Cirque du Soleil
How long have you been doing this work?
Approximately 2 ½ years although I’ve been with Cirque for eight years.