Freedom and Uncertainty: The Summer After Graduation

You head to library school. You’ve got a plan. There’s a schedule of courses laid out before you, and within each course is the syllabus telling you what to do by when. You prepare diligently for exams, and pass them with ease. The light at the end of the tunnel is that awesome job you’re going to have lined up, waiting for you just after graduation. Wait, what??

If you’re at all like me, you may have spent the last two years of library school hoping and praying that the right job will be ready for you just when you’re finally ready for it. You may even have a picture in mind of what that job will be. So after graduation, it’ll just be there, right?

Well, obviously not, and maybe you’re less naïve than me, and you already knew that. But in my last few months of library school, it did seem like the stars were aligning for me to step right into, if not a dream job, what seemed like it might be the perfect job to get my foot in the door of the public library system, and start me on my career path. Then the realities of the state hiring process kicked in, and weeks dragged into months, with no word on those awesome applications I had sent. What’s a new MASTER of Library Science to do?

The following advice is based on what I’ve been doing for the past two months, just trying to keep afloat and stay sane as I hunt for jobs. I think it’s working well, so I wanted to share it here.

1) Plan to take a break: As much as you may not want to (and as badly as I’m sure you need the money), it’s quite good for your mental health to at least plan a small chunk of vacation time after graduating. You may not realize until you take time off just how hard you’ve been working at school! Enjoy sleeping in. Go camping. Get away from your computer screen! In my case, graduation coincided with my kids’ summer break, so I felt like I wasn’t the only one on holiday. I used my newfound freedom to fix up a room in my elderly house, and enjoyed a few weeks spent working with my hands rather than my analytical brain.

2) Keep an open mind: You may know what kind of librarianship you’re passionate about. But there may be a surprise job you weren’t expecting. Let’s just say I was preparing myself for storytelling and massive amounts of public interaction… and instead it looks like I’ll probably be working in the County basement, completely solo for the next six months or so. It’s a cool opportunity, from a totally unexpected direction, and I know I’ll learn a lot, and meet people I wouldn’t have otherwise (though probably not in the basement!). That brings me to my last important point…

3) Attend graduation: This may seem weird and obvious to those of you on-campus. But for those who’ve completed their entire program remotely, as have I, graduation may seem like a random extra expense, and maybe a waste of time. I’m here to tell you it’s not. I attended graduation at a brand-new community college location on my island, rather than traveling to Honolulu for the main ceremony. Distance students from all University of Hawaiʻi programs were invited to attend, the purpose being to celebrate locally with family, and also to help inspire the community college graduates to continue with their education. It was fun, beautiful, and meaningful, but that’s not why I mention it here. I do so because it got me a job! Yes, you read that right: Showing up at graduation got me a job. As I was slogging through endless hours of sending applications to every gig that looked likely on Craigslist, I got a surprise phone call from someone at Pālamanui (the community college) who remembered from graduation that someone had graduated with an MLISc. She’d been in a meeting with the County of Hawaiʻi Research and Development department, and they had expressed their need for a librarian to work a temporary assignment helping them sort out their erstwhile library. Voila! A job I never applied for, that was never listed anywhere, that I never in a million years would have dreamed existed, had I not attended graduation.

This is my farewell post, as I graduated in May. Huge thanks to this blog for existing, and giving us an outlet for our ideas aside from coursework. It’s been great to “meet” and collaborate with the library school community nationwide, and to learn about the concerns people have in other places. Keep up the good work!

Chezlani Casar is a 2017 MLISc graduate of the University of Hawaiʻi, Mānoa. Visit her at librarianofthefuture.weebly.com.

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