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Thursday, 6 October 2011

CPD23 - Thing 20 - Library Career Routes and Wisdom

Career Paths
If you are anything like me, then anything to do with career planning, career pathways, careers guidance and careers advice seems very daunting.

This is where both the Library Routes Project and the Library Day in the Life Project are such great ideas since they help to demystify some of the nature of what working as a modern day information professional involves.

Our perceptions of careers and jobs are built by our own unique mixture of experiences and by talking to friends, family, parents and teachers, learning from the media (TV, newspapers) and from reading online and books. Existing perceptions and prejudicies can be very hard to shift. Therefore these two website resources are as Laura Woods says in her overview to Thing20,  "intended to shine a much-needed light on the types of jobs and career paths available within the information profession".
I have previously contributed to the Library Routes wiki already - see my blog post to CPD23 - Thing 10 - Routes into Librarianship.
Do you think your own path was typical or unusual compared to others?
Having a nose around at other contributions, I'm probably one of the few people who actively pursued a career in library and information work, compared to most other contributors who seems to have stumbled a lot more into this career path.
I'm also one of very few contributors from a government or special libraries background (not because there aren't people like me out there but presumably because less people working in these areas are aware of the wiki).
This raises the question of what we can all do to actively promote what it really means to be an inforamtion professional and the value of information management and libraries beyond what Ned Potter and Laura Woods call the 'echochamber' of talking about being a librarian and libraries to ourselves.  That battle is not yet won!

Words of advice
True words of wisdom!
My first top tip is that if you get the opportunity, do try to find a job via the CILIP graduate traineeship scheme.
This is beneficial to both employers who are seeking enthusastic graduates looking to find experience in information and library work. It also works vice versa for those same graduates who are looking for real-life working experience to demonstrate work commitments and to start to earn money. CILIP clearly indicate that those who are successful in securing a traineeship are looked on favourably if they then decide to apply for a CILIP accredited course. You have to be organised in applying for these roles, but opportunities do appear throughout the year and they are very varied to suit all personalities and backgrounds (and maybe get your foot in the door with an employer). They are also a competitive job-seeking process, so be prepared for submitting your CV and interviews. To get an idea of some graduate trainee schemes you can check out the websites run by graduate trainees working at Cambridge University (CATALOG), OWL: Oxford Website for Library Trainees and the Albert Sloman Library Assistant pages. Remember these are only three possibilities from around 70 opportunities advertised annually.
Being a graduate trainee definitely helped me with Plan A - ie applying for a Masters in Information Management and finding a full time job.
However, you should also always be prepared for a Plan B (or even C or D) as you come to appreciate the older you get that life is not always straight forward and plain sailing.
By the time you have been around for longer in an organisation and you get associated with a particular job, position or role (particularly if you work in a larger organisation), the more closely you are associated with your existing skillset. For all the talk of the possibility of changing sectors, I personally think that unless you move around when you are a 'newer' or 'younger' professional, the harder it will be disassociate yourself from your perceived skillset later. Be prepared to reach an invisible 'glass ceiling' mid-point in your career and plan for that.
Whatever propelled people into their current situation, I'd also advise everyone to:
  • continue to keep flexible and current with new technologies and ways of working
  • volunteer to undertake new work and activities
  • be positive as long as possible and avoid listening to cynical voices
    Wish I had one of these!
Also be open to all the wisdom of others. Here are some words to ponder:
  •  "Analyzing what you haven't got as well as what you have is a necessary ingredient of a career" - Orison Swett Marden
  • “I've missed more than 9000 shots in my career. I've lost almost 300 games. 26 times, I've been trusted to take the game winning shot and missed. I've failed over and over and over again in my life. And that is why I succeed.” - Michael Jordon
  • "What is the recipe for successful achievement? To my mind there are just four essential ingredients: Choose a career you love, give it the best there is in you, seize your opportunities, and be a member of the team.” - Benjamin F Fairless

1 comment:

Laura Steel said...

Really enjoyed reading this - some good tips here.