Why A Growth Mindset Is Important: A Year in Review

     Around this time of year, I always find myself reflecting on the events of the past year and preparing for the new year ahead. This has especially been the case this year as one decade ends and another begins. This time ten years ago, I was nearing the end of my high school years and preparing to apply to college and begin that next chapter of my life. Now, fast forward to this year: I am in my mid-twenties, celebrating having finished 25 units in my 43-unit graduate program with a 4.0 cumulative GPA in one calendar year. Thus, I have begun and ended many different chapters in my life in this past decade and I am excited to see where this next year takes me as I complete my MLIS program and begin my post-grad career as a librarian.

      As someone who began my MLIS program without any previous field experience, I continuously worked to establish myself in this field and create a foundation on which I can build upon during this past year to prepare myself for graduation and subsequent job opportunities. Since the end of any degree program is often full of additional paperwork and time requirements (hello internships and e-Portfolio!), I have so far reaped the benefits of doing the work I have done up to this point as it has made preparing for not only the New Year, but my last year as a MLIS student, easier. While I admit that cramming 25 units into three consecutive terms (spring, summer, and fall) is not for everyone as it required a lot of extra time and effort on my part, it has allowed my second year as a MLIS student unfold more fluidly as I plan out my future.

     I have been called brave for pursuing a graduate degree in a field I had no previous experience in prior to starting; but I feel the risk I first took with applying to my program has ultimately been so rewarding and taught me many lessons which have informed how I navigate my program, network and interact with my professors and peers, establish a reliable support system with my peers, plan for graduation, and seek out job opportunities. For example, back in July, I discussed how, six months into my MLIS program, I was still searching for my “perfect” career path after deciding not to pursue a career as an archivist. After changing my mind, I devoted a lot of time and effort to researching different LIS careers – of which they are many – and how they fit my personality and skill set with varying results. While many careers appealed to me at first, some were ultimately taken out of consideration as I progressed into selecting specific career pathways and courses that fit me better than they did. So, after completing my initial research processes in addition to two more terms in my program, I am now more concretely pursuing public and academic librarianship as I continue to further refine my focus so I can better prepare for internships and my career post-graduation.

      Thus, since I entered my degree program facing a large learning curve as a professionally-inexperienced sociology major, I have witnessed firsthand the need for a growth mindset versus a fixed mindset while in graduate school and out through the different volunteer and academic experiences I have had within San Jose State University’s iSchool so far. After learning about these concepts as an undergraduate student, I have recognized them in different aspects of my life to date and have seen the positive outcomes associated with having a growth mindset; which promotes learning and growing through experience and perseverance versus promoting a more static and innately-focused perspective (Popova, 2014). This 2014 article by Maria Popova is an excellent primer for those who may be unfamiliar with these concepts and I would highly recommend checking it out. So, as growth becomes more of a necessity in our ever-evolving world, I feel it is only fair for these concepts to be discussed in and out of the classroom as I feel they can improve how our field progresses.

     As librarians, archivists, and other information professionals, I have observed that a cornerstone of our career paths is connecting people to the resources, services, and programs they need to grow as people. Therefore, another cornerstone lies with our ability to grow as professionals and inspire positive growth and change in the institutions in which we work so we can best serve our communities; which has been a reoccurring theme in my courses so far. Therefore, the growth mindset and the fixed mindset can impact our field as we recognize emerging trends. For example, if we remain fixed in our ways, I feel we cannot necessarily grow how the patrons and communities we serve need us to. However, if we embrace growth, we can discover effective ways we can adapt and better ourselves and our institutions in the process. Thus, having a growth mindset is important to cultivate, if not adopt, before, during, and/or after graduate school so we can not only grow while we are in the classroom, but in the workplace and at home as well because how can we expect our field to grow if we do not grow, too?

Reference:

Popova, M. (2014, January 29). Fixed vs. growth: The two basic mindsets that shape our lives.  Retrieved from https://www.brainpickings.org/2014/01/29/carol-dweck-mindset/.

Photo by Peter Žagar on Unsplash

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