I haven’t posted on this blog much about my job hunt, but have posted some about my part-time jobs. As you might know (possibly? probably?), I graduated from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill this past December with a Master of Science in library science degree.
When I started library school in 2012, I wanted to set the world on fire, do it all. Throughout my 16 months in school, I changed my plans, got an assistantship, worked with researchers, and discovered a lot about myself in the process. People who know me in real life are not at all surprised when I tell them that I’m interested in working in management and administration within libraries.
This is where the path twists away from what I thought that I wanted following graduation.
When I finished school, I thought I wanted to be a reference and instruction librarian. With some management on the side. And lots of programming. And budgeting. And advocacy. And…so on. And throughout the last few months, while I continued on my (very frustrating) job search, I began to realize that I love reference, and I love instruction, and I love the work librarians do for patrons every day — but I didn’t want to be the one to do it.
Instead, my passions lay in pulling strings, pushing programming, and advocating for the library field. I am interested in leadership and management rather than day-to-day operations. Typically, a librarian might work for a few years in reference/instruction/access/et cetera, then be pushed into one of those leadership roles (generally unwillingly). Leadership happens accidentally, not purposefully.
I was in a conundrum. And then, I made a decision.
I started carefully applying for positions outside of the library field. Yep, outside of it. Because to work in library management, particularly at Penn State (the largest employer in my area), you need experience. I don’t have that. Yet.
Over the last few weeks, I have been carefully and quietly been talking to administrators, attending interviews. And as of today, it’s official: I have a job.
Beginning in mid-September, I’ll be starting work as an administrative support assistant for Penn State’s Department of Mechanical and Nuclear Engineering. I’ll be conducting normal administrative work, as well as gaining supervisory experience and helping with faculty searches. The department is tremendously successful, and I’ll be working with a phenomenal supervisor and mentor.
As of right now, I’m not sure if I’ll go back to libraries, and I told my new supervisors that during my interview. I may work in this role for a few years and then seek a mid-level managerial position in Penn State Libraries. Alternately, I might stay in administration. Ultimately, I learned a great deal from my MLS and my assistantship, particularly about supporting one’s community and cultivating a superior information environment. The fact of the matter is that this type of work happens outside of libraries as well as within them, and I’m looking for room to grow and flourish.
I am confident that this decision is the right one for me, and I’m unbelievably excited to get started. Get ready for a crazy couple of months here on the blog, there are changes ahead!