Yes. Alright so in the time that it took me to post the last post and this one, I’ve decided to change jobs again. I know, I just started as a cataloguer at UTM. I have confused many people in the past few weeks with all my changes, so I’ll take this opportunity to explain what happened, and where I’m going/trying to go in the near future.
I love the library at UTM – it’s a stunning new building, and every single staff member is so kind, knowledgable, and amazing to work with. It honestly runs like a (very friendly) machine. Over my two and a half years there I became part of the library’s family and my work as their cataloguer made me feel just as welcome. However, the job itself, while it was one of my favourite things to do in library school, and is something I still love, was also worrying me. After working for a few months as a full time cataloguer, I found that I wasn’t fulfilled – while there are always challenges to overcome, I felt like I wasn’t learning enough, growing enough as a professional, to continue.
I would love a position where cataloguing was maybe 30-50% of what I do, but doing it 90% of the time was difficult. Why? For me, there’s a simple answer: people. The individual and technical nature of the job didn’t require me to interact with others anywhere near as much as I need. People are always challenging and new, you never know what to expect, and teaching (whether that’s “teaching” your coworkers new skills or doing reference or whatever) is one of the most rewarding things I can think of. Also, simply doing one thing all day proved to be extremely difficult for me. As I said, I didn’t feel like I was progressing, and I couldn’t see a clear or even hazy future path for myself that this job contributed to. So while I was sad (and very anxious) about leaving, I knew I had to for both my career and my personal happiness (which, for me, are highly intertwined). Of course I did learn a lot from this experience, mainly about what I need on a day-to-day level from my job in order to be happy. These are the major ones:
- I have multiple projects on the go at all times. I can switch from one to the other throughout the day
- I interact with people as an integral part of my work (but also have independent tasks)
- My work is clearly and immediately valuable to the organization and myself
- The smaller the company/team the better
- The more of a positive impact I can make to the company on a higher level, the better
- I want to combine the skills I already have with being regularly outside of my comfort zone learning new things
- I really, really love special collections/a small user group/corporate information
- I need to see that the job I have now, no matter how entry level, leads somewhere I want to go
I think nearly all of these can apply to my friends in the info pro field, and young professionals in general, although most likely to varying degrees. I’ve also realized what, at least for now, is unique about me as an employee: I enjoy and thrive with almost exactly 50% individual work, 50% working with others, 50% technical, 50% high-level work, it’s 50% about information/communication and 50% about helping people. I have heard others talk about the two types of info professional out there, the one that went in to the field to help others, who loves people, education, instruction, etc. and then the other type who’s fascinated by communications and information transfer, most likely is more technical or at least theoretical (in the best way). I’m sure everyone has a little bit of both – the field would not appeal to you if you didn’t, but for me I’m exactly as interested in one as the other.
To go on a bit of a tangent here, in my life I’ve always had this feeling of being “two people” – not many people, not a blend of characteristics, but two fairly stereotypical people put in to one. It’s always simultaneously bothered me and been a source of uniqueness that I enjoy. It’s also why I’m so passionate about everything I’m involved with – I have no “sort of interested”. So now I suppose I’m seeing this appear in my work life. Thankfully it seems to be an edge for me – yes, I love the technical aspects and seemingly pedantic rule over-enforcement of cataloguing, as well as it’s codification of things (for example, how much information is stored in even the shortest LC call number). I can definitely nerd out on this until I’m blue in the face and all of my friends have disappeared. But at the same time, I love making presentations, answering random reference questions, networking and meeting new people, and teaching, teaching, teaching. I could never be happy doing only one of these things, no matter how much I truly do love both of them. So this is both a source of complication in my professional life, and my edge on others. How I use this, I think, will be the deciding factor in how fulfilled I am in my career – and how happy I am with my life.