Post from the trenches

While I’m getting materials together for applications, it dawned on me that what I’m going through is not unusual for many in the librarian profession. I am one of many with an MLIS who decided to stay in a metropolitan area, with a library school, and try to work my way up to a librarian job. Two years later, and I am still working a paraprofessional job. While that may seem like a downer, I have encountered people who stayed at my level for over a decade before getting a librarian position. There are even people with their degree who have no plans to get a professional position.

And so I look forward and realize that this is the time to take stock of what it’s like to work my way up. It’s not guaranteed that any of these openings will lead to anything, but it’s high time to update my resume, cover letters, and even a teaching statement (!).

Gaining new skills

My most recent post, way back in March of 2016, discussed my desire to find a new job. Nine months later and I’m still at my job. It’s been a period of serious reflection, on both what I want out of my current job and also out of my career. When I ask myself if this is where I want to spend my career, I can definitively answer no. It gets more nebulous when I think about what I want out of a career. It’s such a final thought, because when we think about a career, we think about what we’ll be doing for the rest of our working lives (for me, likely another 30-40 years!).

Over the summer a librarian position opened up at my library. I jumped at the chance to speak with the person who would be my direct superior if I was in the position. We had a great conversation, I worked on a solid application and submitted it. A few weeks later I received the stock HR email saying that I wasn’t in consideration anymore. This led to feelings of confusion, a bit of anger, and rejection. Why was I not even appealing enough to be considered for an internal position?

When I spoke with my supervisor, one of the glaring omissions from my resume is reference and direct public service experience. We spoke about ways for me to get experience. One suggestion was to get me a few hours at the library’s information desk. This was back in August, and heading into 2017 I’ve been at the Infodesk three hours a week. It’s been great experience, and has sparked a passion for librarianship I haven’t felt in a while. Working with the public can be a great joy and a series of headaches, but overall I get a kick out of direct interaction with our patrons.

In the next quarter, I’ll likely have the opportunity to move to the Research Help Desk, and possibly train in the online chat reference service. There is a new librarian position open here, and I plan to apply. It doesn’t require teaching experience, but the application requires a teaching statement. I will work hard on this application, as it’s something I think I would get a kick out of, and I won’t be too hard on myself if it doesn’t work out. Seattle is a competitive market, and there are a lot of talented librarians hoping to work here.

More to come, as I keep working on new skills in my current position while continuing to seek a full librarian position.

Knowing when it’s time to start looking for a new job

When I accepted the offer for my new position (within the same unit in the library), I was excited, thinking, This is the logical next step in my career. This is just what I needed. The switch was minor, from a technician to a technician lead, but the job description had a lot of positives I knew would be good for professional development:

  • Supervising one aspect of the office’s main functions
  • Testing out new software or systems upgrades, and being able to give input in the process
  • Analytics work to ensure the area I supervise functions smoothly

And when I applied for, interviewed, and ultimately accepted the position, I had been doing a number of these tasks in an unofficial capacity since the position was vacated in August. It seemed like the perfect fit.

And then reality set in.

As soon as I officially transitioned to the new position, I was already aware that I would have to do tasks as part of my previous job, since it would still be vacant for three months. That seemed fine to me, I understood the nature of the game. But after a few months, and our eventual hiring of a new staff person, I found myself increasingly being delegated to student tasks. At first it was to help fill the gap of losing a number of students, and so I helped out for a few days. Those few days turned into a few weeks. I found myself unable to concentrate on the general operational tasks of my new position, and consistently felt behind. I also was working on a group paper to be submitted to an academic journal, and I generally felt stretched too thin.

I spoke with my supervisor, got off the student work, but things haven’t felt right these past few months. I believe my desire to be a librarian, to have more in depth and challenging tasks, to be the case for my general unease at work. And this was the motivator to start looking for a new job. So far I’ve updated my resume and fired out a few applications in the past week, just to get comfortable with the application process again. I won’t quit my current job without a new one lined up, and for the moment I’m looking in the Seattle area. I plan to include some posts here about the process, and we’ll see where it takes me. I’m excited to start applying again. It’s been almost two years since I finished grad school, and it feels right to be on the lookout for that first position with ‘librarian’ in the title.

More to come…

 

 

Back!

It’s been a long while since my last post, and there’s a lot to get through in a few paragraphs:

1.) I got married in August of last year! That was the biggest thing of the past year, with lots of planning and work involved, since it was put on at my in-laws’ home. But that took up a lot of my time and energy this past year, and it paid off as an amazing night with friends and family.

2.) I did get a promotion at my current job. There’s a post or two that will go into more detail on this. Some of the changes have been good, others not so much.

3.) I was part of a group survey project that’s getting our paper published this year. That’ll be my second published work since finishing my MLIS. I will also go more in depth on this, but just thought it would be good to mention.

More to come, and I’m planning to post more than once every six months!

Updates

It’s been a while, and I don’t have an excuse for not writing anything the past few months. That being said, some big things came up, such as my wedding, moving to a new apartment, plus applying for and getting a promotion at work. I’ll speak more to the latter in a new post that will come soon, but this is just to let ya’ll know that I’m still here.

Thanks for sticking around 🙂

Knowing when you’ve put enough work into a project

Throughout this year I’ve been working with my boss on an international survey. There’s a committee of librarians from across the world that we’ve worked with in putting together this survey. Needless to say, my boss and I put a lot of time and effort into this (close to 50 hours total), and not to brag or boast but we put in more time than anyone else on the committee.

About two weeks ago I was tasked with putting together some slides for an upcoming presentation, which I was not going to, but I said yes and got to work. I turned the slides in on a Thursday, and didn’t hear back until the following Monday that what I had submitted was not what was needed. I wouldn’t say I was mad, but I was frustrated, and I felt like letting this person know that. Instead of saying it outright, I merely said, “I’ve put in a lot of work on this project, and I tried to put together something based on your request, but I think someone presenting at the conference should handle this.” When I heard a conference report from my boss, she said that this person seemed taken aback that I “politely told him to do the work himself,” which is indeed what I said. After thinking about this, it dawned on me that what I did was to assert myself and know when I’ve done enough work, and that I need to delegate it out or just say that I’m done.

In the library world we can feel pressured to take on too many things, such as committee work and special projects, and it’s tough to say no because you feel like you cannot let this person or that person down. What I am proud of, and I think my boss is as well, is that I knew my limits and knew when to politely push back. It doesn’t seem like much, but it was a good feeling.

On another note: I’m aware of the sporadic nature of my posts. I originally set out to write two posts per week, and I quickly slipped from that goal. From here on out I’m going to try for one a week, but this month is going to be a busy one for me, so I won’t make any promises but I’ll do my best to write on a semi-regular basis. I’ve toyed with the idea of writing about non-library related things, but I’m not sure I want this blog to become another “lifestyle blog.” More to come, and thanks to those who’ve read this. It means a lot!

Balancing your work and your hobbies

Like many librarians out there, I’m interested in much more than my job. I like my job, it keeps me engaged and busy. And, like many library jobs, there are times when it is a little slow and I feel like I have no work to do. That’s when I start working on my hobbies outside of my work, mainly writing. In addition to this blog I write for an online music website, doing short blog posts, reviews, and interviews. It’s really fun, I get to listen to lots of interesting music, and I get to sharpen my writing skills in the process.

This, also, if fun, engaging, and satisfying work; however, I do not get paid for my writing. It is all done voluntarily. Like the library world, sometimes you have to work for free to get your name out there and gain experience. There are times where I think it would be really great to write as a full-time job. When you look at high profile blogs that provide decent incomes, you can’t help but romanticize the writer’s life: work from home (or anywhere), set your own hours, be creative for a living, and have a sizable, devoted following.

But the problem with that is, how often should I focus my time at work, time I’m being paid for, on an out of work project? I’m not saying that I’ll spend an entire day on a piece, but if I have twenty minutes here, or a few minutes before the end of the day, I’ll put the finishing touches on something and submit it. I don’t think there’s anything wrong with that. Hell, I’m writing this post while I’m on the clock! I work on something at work because that’s when I’m in “work mode,” and I see some of my music assignments as actual work, despite the lack of compensation. I don’t hide it, nor do I put actual library tasks on hold; rather, I work on my writing projects so that I don’t waste time on other internet distractions. In a way, I think that’s better than mindlessly scrolling through Facebook. In another way, it’s using someone else’s time to work on a project not related to that work.

I would guess that I have more time for out of work hobbies right now because I’m so new at my job. My boss probably wants to do a slow roll out of new tasks for me to work on throughout the day. There’s a good chance that in a few month’s time I’ll have less time during the workday for writing. In a way that’s good, because it will allow me to prioritize my time, so that I can devote meaningful time to the hobbies I enjoy so much.