MLIS Degree: Now What?

I should be pumped. I should be ready to celebrate.

I mean, I just got advisor approval on my masters’ portfolio giving me the green light to graduation and my MLIS degree. The past few years included a mid-career change decision launching several years of grad school, starting new library jobs, connecting with a new community in the library sector, and becoming a mom along the way. (There were also some pretty horrific political moments and world events in there too, but that’s another story). It’s pretty stunning how different my life looks like right now, in mostly wonderful ways.

Yet, as excited as I am to achieve this milestone; the culmination of a lot of effort and work, the achievement feels anti-climactic somehow. Perhaps it’s compounded by the fact that my MLIS program was online and there is not much physical difference in my day-to-day life, other than less time holed away at my computer. Even though it is amazingly freeing to have no school deadlines looming, it also feels strange to not have the constant class “to-dos” that student life brings.

It is a strange adjustment to having more time on my hands. I’m someone that was used to working more than full-time pre-parenthood, and a full-time course load, parenthood, part-time work, and teaching kept me plenty busy. Yet I realize my busy-ness can also be an escape. Now with more time and space, it means dealing with a health issue I’d kept on the back burner. It means confronting my insecurities about my job performance and skills as a newly-minted librarian. It means despite my fears, putting myself out there in job interviews and applications.

I feel extremely fortunate to be working right away as an on-call librarian for several public libraries. Although I am not yet working the kind of regular hours of a permanent full- or part-time role, I am thrilled to be diving right into librarian work, and grateful to have the financial flexibility to do so and still get to spend several days a week caring for my toddler. Still there is definitely part of me that feels guilty for not working more or having my career plan completely worked out immediately.

In this time of transition, I find myself drawing on my yoga practice (and I guarantee you with a toddler at home, that does not mean spending more time on my actual yoga mat). At the root of yoga philosophy is the concept of putting forth effort without attachment to results. You establish an intention, that is, how you want to focus your efforts in your practice. The intention itself and the effort in service of that intention is the value of practice, not the end result of whether you balance in handstand or rest your hands on the floor in a forward fold.

As I consider job options to pursue, I remind myself that I don’t want to fill my time merely for the sake of being busy, rather, I want to be more intentional about the effort I put forth to create the kind of career I desire. While emptying the dishwasher or squeezing in another work shift is tempting to fill my time, I am conscious about taking a breath and instead use this space to truly consider want kind of work I want to do, and the value I want to impart to the patrons I serve. I can then use that to assess what opportunities I choose to pursue and how I choose to spend my time aligned with my intention and values. Similarly, I consider the kind of qualities and attention I want to give to parenting. Even if I feel like a messy failure who can’t manage to clean up the kitchen in a timely manner, rolling around on the floor playing with my son is much more aligned with how I want to be as a parent.

At the end of many yoga classes, I encourage my students to take a moment to not only acknowledge, but congratulate themselves on the work of their practice. They showed up, unrolled the mat, and did the work, regardless of whether their balance wobbled or they needed several blocks to even reach their toes. It is time for me to turn the same advice on myself. Acknowledge the achievement of the MLIS, and congratulate myself on the work it took to get there. Now keep showing up, unrolling the mat, and doing the work.

Are you in a point of transition? I’d love to hear how you are managing uncertainty in times of change.

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