Speaking as someone who is relatively new to the library and information science field, the past six months have been a huge learning curve for me as I have continued to search for my niche in the field. Similarly, while I have found the breadth and depth of possible career options to be encouraging, I have also found them overwhelming at times. When I first started my Master’s degree program in January, I started with the end goal of becoming an archivist. For months, I steadfastly stood by my goal, committed to finding my niche in that career path. Then, I gradually found myself questioning my goal entirely as time went on. I knew I wanted to be a part of this field; but I became increasingly unsure that archival work was for me based on my research and experiences. So, I ultimately redirected my research to focus on other possible career paths and redefine the goals I hope to accomplish by graduation.
Fast forward six months and my goal has completely changed. Now, I am expanding my horizons wider than I ever dreamed of doing when I first applied to my program at San Jose State University last fall. Instead of looking into archives-focused courses, I am now considering courses more tailored to public and/or academic librarianship; all while trying to find my niche within those settings and asking myself a plethora of questions as I browse job search engines to find insight on what each career path entails:
“Do I want my career to heavily involve technology?”
“Do I want to work with specific populations?”
“How can I incorporate my undergraduate degree into my career, if I can?”
“Which classes should I take to make myself more employable in multiple roles?”
This last question has been the most present in my mind as I survey the different responsibilities associated with each job opportunity. This, however, has not always been easy as some postings have not listed any responsibilities at all; which makes me wonder just what they are looking for when they do not specify what they want.
In my searching, I have scoured countless job opportunities across general and field-specific job search engines with varying results. Some search engines have been more fruitful than others; even when job opportunities are cross-listed across different search terms. This aside, though, my findings have helped me identify which skills are the most valuable and which ones are incredibly specific to certain job opportunities that, ultimately, would not be a good fit for me. In turn, these findings have informed which electives I plan to take in the second half of my program and which careers may be good fits for me. Also, they have shown me where I may find employment after graduation across the United States and, in some cases, how I may be able to afford living in those areas and find community. So, in searching, I have found much, but still know I have a long way to go before I find everything I am looking for.
In this day and age, it is hard to easily seek out careers when there are so many different factors to consider in our search. As we navigate our degree programs, we all constantly have to think about not only where we see ourselves once we complete our degrees; but to consider where our dream jobs will take us geographically, our current and projected financial obligations, and, finally, how the logistics of our dreams may align with the logistics that drive our everyday lives, especially when it comes to our families. In our intersectional lives, there is always much to consider when we are trying to pave a path to our dreams while having ourselves firmly planted in the realities we all face; which can add a lot of extra stress to our already full lives.
That being said, while I may not have much experience in the LIS field, I have had a lot of experience with searching, be it for a career, for a major, or for the life I want to live once I finish school. Over time, each of those ideas has changed as I have grown, adapted, and changed as the result of my personal and professional experiences; which have been essential to my search process. Since none of us can overlook the oftentimes difficult job market in most, if not all, fields, it can sometimes be hard to figure out what our endgames will be since we always have to change to fit our current situations without losing sight of what we hope to achieve amidst everything. Thus, we have to be kind to ourselves in our searching and be patient when our initial plans do not work out as we had originally hoped they would. Since our everyday lives often are already full of stressors, we owe it to ourselves to not add more when it can be avoided for the benefit of our health, well-being, and various searches since our progress relies heavily on our process.