Recently the Wall Street Journal ran an article debunking the oft-repeated mantra that most of us will go through seven career changes throughout our working lifetimes. Basically, the Department of Labor has completely disavowed the statement, and no one’s ready to ‘fess up to having started the seven-careers rumor.
However, I think a more valid (and useful) way of framing this is that we may, in fact, be much likelier to have at least seven career extensions throughout our working lives. With that frame, I’ve had at least seven so far, and have friends and colleagues who’ve had even more as new opportunities have opened up (or been created by them).
That’s one of the questions we’ll be exploring in a new subgroup I’ve just created on LinkedIn – and we need your participation!
The goal of the group is to provide a forum for asking your career questions, sharing your career and professional expertise, finding out more about career paths that may be of interest to you, and finding ways to connect with people who may be able to help with your career goals.
How To Join the Group
If you’re already a LinkedIn member, just go to the LIS Career Options group page (it’s a subgroup of the ALA groups page; you don’t have to be an ALA member to join, but you will have to join the ALA LinkedIn Group) and sign up – no approval process necessary. Then jump in and start asking or answering questions, start a new discussion thread, recommend a great resource, or contribute in any way you’d like. (And yep, lurkers are welcome, too!)
“So, if I were to become an independent, what kind of work would I do?” Given the shaky state of the economy (and LIS jobs), more and more information pros are asking this question.
Or maybe you’re thinking about adding a second revenue stream in addition to your day job. Or wanting to develop a new career path into which you’ll eventually transition. If you’ve got information skills (or are willing to learn them), there are all sorts of ways to turn that knowledge into income.
What kinds of things can you do as an independent information pro? Three of the most popular types of information work are research and analysis, writing and content development, and information products.
One of the challenges for those of us in alternative LIS careers is how to describe ourselves. Information consultant? Check. Independent information professional? Check. Consulting/freelance/contract/independent librarian? Yep.
But the role I most often end up playing is information strategist. And what the heck, you may ask, is that?
The Information Strategist’s Role
As an information strategist, I work with for-profit and nonprofit organizations to help them create an information strategy that aligns with and drives their strategic goals. I meet with key members of the organization to determine answers to the following questions:
Years ago, when I was working as an executive information advisor to a CEO and was also teaching adjunct in the University of Denver MLIS program, my friend (and colleague) suggested that I wasn’t really a librarian, or a researcher, or an information manager, although I performed all those roles.
Infonista: Now My Mom Gets What I Do
Instead, she said, I was an infonista, someone who made her living using, creating, disseminating, or otherwise creating value with, information. I think she nailed it (certainly it offered a way to summarize my job skills for my mother), and I also have found that there are a lot of us who are doing exactly that – making a living with information.