During my first semester as an MLS student, I changed jobs. I went from working at a private university as a Circulation Manager to working at a state university as a Library Assistant III. I made the change for several personal and professional reasons, but one perk of the change is that, as a new state university employee, I qualify for tuition discounts that will greatly reduce my grad school spending. While making a big job switch during my first semester was challenging, and I wouldn’t recommend it unless there are special circumstances, I learned some valuable lessons during this time of change.
- Maintain cordial and professional relationships with your former colleagues. You’ve likely heard that the library world is a small one. If you’re staying in the same area for your new job, you may still be collaborating with your former colleagues in consortiums or through informal communication. For example, I still exchange emails about professional development opportunities with a librarian at my former workplace.
- Take one day at a time, and attend to your priorities first. During my last week at my former job, I was exhausted from training my replacements while also trying to submit digital paperwork for my new job and stay on top of my grad school assignments. It helped to slow down and focus on each day rather than looking ahead too much, which could be stressful when I saw how much there was left to do!
- Once you’ve started your new position, begin updating your resume and LinkedIn with your new skills and duties. You may even have an updated professional photo from starting your new job! There’s no time like the present to assess how far you’ve come in your career journey and which new opportunities you’ll seek. You’re learning about library trends, ethics, and data in your grad school classes; apply this knowledge to your new role and see where it takes you!
- Forget to eat, sleep, or take breaks. Changing jobs is a busy and long process, but life still goes on outside of work. It’s okay if you get behind on household chores, but make sure that you get the meals and rest that you need. Your physical and mental health is important!
- Try to do or remember everything at once. It pays to stay organized during times of change. Write down important deadlines on your calendar, in a planner, or in your phone’s notes. Set reminders as needed. Personally, I use a bullet journal and record all of my grad school assignments at the beginning of each semester with coordinating colors. Then, as new work-related tasks pop up, I add them in as well.
- Identify yourself by your job alone. You are more than a library employee and more than your job description. Changing jobs can be tough, especially if you’re stepping down from a management position or, inversely, moving up to a higher position. However, just because your new job has you doing different things or at a different level of responsibility does not mean that you are now a completely different person. Stay true to yourself and be willing to learn new things!
Taking grad school classes is stressful. Changing jobs is stressful. Doing both at the same time . . . well, you get the idea. Regardless, as with most of life’s challenges, there are plenty of opportunities to learn and grow throughout your transition. Make the most of it, do the best you can, and see you on the other side!
Editor’s note: This is a guest post from Olivia Chin. Hailing from West Tennessee, Olivia Chin is an online graduate student at Texas Woman’s University SLIS. She works in Circulation full-time at an academic library. Connect with her on LinkedIn!
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