I guess that most people validate themselves professionally by the job opportunities they are offered. But pretty much anyone who’s ever applied for jobs has had to accept a fair amount of knock-backs on the path to securing a job. This can be really hard, and as Jasmine said in this earlier article you have to learn to adjust your attitude to deal with this. You have to find a way to stay focused on your goals and retain your belief in yourself if you don’t get the job.
In fact I’d go further than that and say that just because you don’t get the job, this doesn’t mean you can’t do the job. I’m not advocating turning up and forcing your way into the building on Monday morning. No. What I mean is carrying on and achieving your goals regardless of being offered the opportunity to do so – making your own opportunities.
When you start thinking outside of specific job roles, you loose the constraints of the job description and have to break down your career into the basics. I really liked this article about how to figure out what exactly it is you want to do in life. For example, for me it’s probably specific parts of librarianship that interest me most like empowering others by facilitating access to information. So target those things you really like about your work, and focus on building on those. Regardless of the job you do (or don’t have), do that stuff anyway. If you love cataloging and that’s the job you’re looking for, don’t wait for the job, get out there and do some cataloging. Catalogue your thimble collection – at least you’ll be doing what you love and you’ll also be demonstrating your skills and building your experience. Nothing you do in life is in isolation – each area of your life affects other areas, and taking action of any kind can be the best way to progress.
There are plenty of examples out there of people who went DIY with their library work and did great things. The Itinerant Poetry Library, The People’s Library of Occupy Wall Street, Street Books, Librarybox, Salford Zine Library, Radical Reference, to name just a few are all innovative DIY library ideas created to fulfill a need or belief. To me they show a real commitment to the ethics and ideals of librarianship rather than just being projects carried out half-heartedly to get a paycheck.
Who knows, doing your own thing might even eventually help you land that job, but even if it doesn’t you’ll be finding fulfillment and reaching your goals, and maybe that’s what life is really all about.