Finding your Niche in 3

by Lisa Huntsha, Head Editor, INALJ Sweden

Finding your Niche in 3

Lisa1For my first blog post, I thought I’d write to you about something that greatly affected my job hunt: finding my niche within the library/archives/museum field. First, I have a confession. I don’t have an MLS and I do have a full-time position in the library/archives field (please don’t hate me).  I do, however, have an MA from Syracuse University in Museum Studies (and took some LIS courses), and work, volunteer, and intern experience in libraries, archives, and historical societies, as well as museums. And, I found my niche.

As you’ll notice, I’m the head editor for the INALJ Sweden page. But I don’t live in Sweden. Scandinavian-American cultural organizations are my area. Specific enough for you? In college, I majored in Scandinavian Studies because of my family heritage, my interest in world cultures (anthropology was my double major), and because I wanted to learn another language. Family and friends questioned the sanity of my decision: would this major translate into a “real job” after college?

And yet, when I started applying for jobs near the end of graduate school, it was mostly Scandinavian heritage organizations that called me for interviews. Could it be that my specific passion was paying off? In short, I believe, yes.

I’m sure countless sources have told you to find what you’re passionate about and pursue it, and even other INALJ articles have reminded you about the value of finding a hobby. All true advice, but how exactly do you go about doing this? How can you translate your hobbies and interests into a professional niche? Here are some tips that have helped me find my niche – and thus a job– in this competitive job market:

  1. Learn a language. This isn’t always easy or accessible, but in terms of personal and professional development, it can help immensely. Plus, it’s a fun party trick to speak Swedish.
  2. Become an expert in something. Or at least go all out. Maybe you love playing guitar and know all about different makes and models. Learn as much as you can! Then when you see a position opening at the Guitar Hall of Fame, for example, you’ll be able to talk specifically about why your professional and personal experience makes you a great candidate for the job.
  3. Invest in your passion. Are you passionate about Benjamin Franklin? Travel to the U. Penn archives and do your research. Maybe you want to know everything about Peruvian textiles? I think a trip to Peru would be in order. Again, go all out with your passion (as much as you’re able). This type of experience really illustrates your passion and dedication to your subject area.

Of course, none of this is guaranteed to get you a job, but pursuing an interest is never time wasted, right? Good luck finding your own personal and professional niche!


Naomi House

Naomi House, MLIS, is the founder and publisher of the popular LIS jobs resource (formerly I Need a Library Job). Founded in October 2010 with the assistance of her fellow Rutgers classmate, Elizabeth Leonard, INALJ’s social media presence has grown to include Facebook (retired in 2016), Twitter and a LinkedIn group, in addition to the interviews, articles and jobs found on INALJ has had over 20 Million page views and helped thousands of librarians and LIS folk find employment! Through grassroots marketing, word of mouth and a real focus on exploring unconventional resources for job leads, INALJ grew from a subscription base of 20 friends to a website with over 500,000 visits in a month. Naomi believes that well-sourced quantity is quality in this narrow job market and INALJ reflects this many new jobs published daily. She was a 2013 Library Journal Mover & Shaker and has served on the University of Maryland iSchool Board from 2014-2017. Naomi was a Reference, Marketing and Acquisitions Librarian for a contractor at a federal library outside Washington, DC, and now lives part time in Western NY and Budapest, Hungary. She has heard of spare time but hasn’t encountered it lately. She pronounces INALJ as eye-na-elle-jay.