A Year of Yes, A Year of Possibility

Career Blog

Published: December 28, 2016 by Kate M. Spaulding

Say “yes” to personal and professional opportunities and up your game in 2017.

From where I sit, 2016 feels like a pretty big year. For my last birthday, one of my best friends sent me Shonda Rhimes’ Year of Yes. And while I can’t claim to have had the kind of year she chronicled, and I certainly didn’t always say “yes,” I did say it a lot.

I said “yes” to full course loads of interesting subjects, and I didn’t always choose the easy or predictable final project. I started writing for this blog – my first LIS job! – and started to learn what it’s like to work virtually and as a writer (spoiler: it’s awesome. I love it.). I also stepped out of my online bubble and met some friendly classmates in person, which I might not have done in the past.

I submitted a paper to the Student Research Journal, and then I applied and joined the editorial board a few months later. This summer I got a job at a local public library as a Library Assistant; when I can, I also answer reference and tech questions for our patrons both to help them and to gain experience.

I’ve upped my LinkedIn game by joining groups (and participating in discussions), updating my profile, and asking for recommendations. I started using Twitter. I revived my old personal blog and posted a few times. I reached out to complete strangers (well, in my extended network at least) to ask them to answer questions for blog posts, and during my library’s staff development day, I took a deep, nervous, somewhat sweaty breath and introduced myself to our keynote speaker and asked him to do an interview for the blog, too.

I joined a few professional associations (student rates are the best rates), and while I’m often just a lurker, I do chime in to conversations periodically. Recently, I applied for and became the iSchool SLA Student Chapter’s Communications Director. I have a mini-team within the Executive Committee and some big plans.

Just last week, another friend and I submitted a proposal to SLA’s annual conference. If accepted, it means researching and writing the thing, attending the conference, and presenting to a bunch of LIS professionals. Out loud. In person. I’m terrified our proposal will be accepted, but I’ll be bummed if it’s not.

On a more personal note, I think my biggest disappointment of the year has taught me that sitting back and watching is not enough.

I’m starting with the [wo]man in the mirror
I’m asking [her] to change [her] ways
And no message could have been any clearer
If you wanna make the world a better place
Take a look at yourself, and then make a change

          -Michael Jackson, “Man in the Mirror”

Looking forward, I want to keep saying “yes” to personal and professional opportunities. I know that I’m shy and that new situations make me anxious, so I must keep pushing myself or I’ll just stay here on this comfy couch cuddling with a sometimes cooperative dog.

I will keep emailing strangers to ask for interviews. I want to attend the SLA conference (fingers crossed), and I will take Patty Wong’s INFO 298 class this summer, which involves going to the ALA conference in Chicago. I want to get the internship I applied for, but, if I don’t, I want to get a different one. I will keep applying for jobs that might be a “reach” as well as those I am more obviously qualified for.

I have got to figure out what I want to do (another item on my winter break to do list) and then concretely figure out how to achieve it. Kim Dority and Jennifer Dziura both wrote about this process, and it’s worth reading what they had to say because they’re practical and smart. Focus on Your Dreams and Design Your Career.

2016 wasn’t all rosy – and I don’t expect that 2017 will be either – but I do have accomplishments that I’m proud of and that I hope will serve me in the future.

How do you feel about 2016? What goals do you have for 2017? I’d love to hear about it all!


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