Question Everyone to Find Your Path

Career Blog

Published: January 27, 2017 by Kate M. Spaulding

Grad school is the perfect time to figure out your career path. Here’s how.

If you’re a current student, or even a recent alum, and your career direction seems fuzzy at best, please know that you’re not alone. Not even a little bit. Raises hand. Also, know that it’s alright. Grad school is the perfect opportunity to figure it out.

First, take a deep breath. It’s gonna be ok. Next, peruse the Career Development resources. There is a literal ton of information and links to even more.

You’re also going to want to keep an eye out for emails from the iSchool about upcoming workshops with Jill Klees. She’s our Career Center Liaison, and her hour-long Collaborate sessions are great. In the past, she’s spoken about interviewing like a superstar, the value of internships, and more. Jill is totally approachable, and she graciously agreed to answer some questions for me (reading her answers is Step 4), and then she answered some more (read on to complete Step 5).

Ask, and Ye Shall Figure it Out
In fact, asking questions is really at the heart of her advice. Whether they are questions you ask yourself or questions you put to your network, the pursuit of information that makes our profession so awesome is also what’s going to help you sort out your career.

In order to learn about the career paths open to LIS professionals, informational interviewing is a must. Even if you read a lot about public libraries, you won’t know that it’s the Director who gets the panicked call about bed bugs at 9 PM on a Tuesday or that there’s a patron who needs the weather forecast printed out for him every morning. Informational interviews will give you insight into the nitty gritty, day-to-day aspects of a potential job description. Jill sent me this example from her own life:

Very early in my young professional career, I thought I wanted to go to law school. So I did my informational interviewing, and I learned that being a female attorney was going to be a fight every day to prove myself and compete in a male-dominated field. I learned that attorneys work very long days without a work-life balance and that this profession was not conducive to having a young family. Because I had put some thought into what I wanted for myself in a career and in my life, I quickly realized that this career direction was not the right fit for me. I found other ways to help people that were equally satisfying for me personally.

The Future is Bright
For those of you who, like me, get nervous about chatting up strangers, Jill told me, “We all remember what it was like to be in your student shoes. Most people want to help you and most people like talking about themselves, so ask the questions.” It’s true, especially in the LIS world (or maybe I’m biased!), that professionals want to help, and they often go out of their way to help a student.

As a final reassurance, Jill reminded me that “you don’t have to figure it all out right now. A career often develops over time. People take a job, try it out, learn some new skills, and move on. That is how you find your way. Trust yourself and don’t be afraid to take a chance.”

Top photo courtesy WOCTech Chat

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