Believe (that you will get a library job)

by Nena Schvaneveldt, Head Editor, INALJ Utah

Believe (that you will get a library job)

NenaSchvaneveldtI had a rough start to my professional life. I was quickly laid off my first job out of college and was fired from my first librarian job. In hindsight, I can see that I wasn’t quite ready to handle the real world, and the mistakes I made hurt me deeply. Not only had I burned some bridges, but I had also lost a lot of confidence. I wasn’t the golden child I thought I was. I was able to get a couple of jobs outside the field to help me grow, and fortunately, I had a couple of supervisors who really helped me mature as a new professional.

I was finally at a point where I wasn’t reeling from my early failures, working in an administrative job “just to get through graduate school,” when my boss announced that she was leaving. I was devastated. She gave people little gifts before she left. I got a plastic fake rock that says “Believe.”

At that time, I was about halfway through my master’s degree. I wasn’t working in a library, and no libraries seemed to be calling me back. I was sure, though, that they would when I was done. But I doubted. I had been fired from being a librarian, for crying out loud. Who’d want me?

I kept the rock on my desk underneath my computer monitor. I don’t know why I got “believe” instead of “hope” or “faith” or anything else, but it came to be a reminder to me to believe that I would get through whatever was thrown at me. I had to remember to believe that I made the right decision to go to graduate school, even when job searching wasn’t as easy as I’d hoped. I had to believe that I would get a job in a library.

I didn’t bring the rock to my new desk – the circulation desk at a small academic library. Instead, it stayed at home. I had to take a step back in my career to move forward. Although I’d worked my way up to a professional level in my last job, I had to go back to paraprofessional to work in a library. And when things get tough and I think I’ll never be a librarian, I remember that stupid rock telling me to believe.

After putting in a year of work, I got promoted. And one of the first things I brought into my new office was that rock. My career path isn’t remotely what I thought it would be. I thought I’d take one flying leap from graduate school into a librarian job, but it’s taking me a few small steps instead. But on most days, I believe.

  11 comments for “Believe (that you will get a library job)

  1. Penny White
    February 18, 2014 at 10:37 am

    I’m a little late on this article, but I also wanted to say thanks! I am six months out of library school and still searching. Some days it takes a lot to try and remain positive about the job search, especially when like you, I was prepped and ready to leap right into a librarian position. I really appreciate you pointing out that small steps work out, sometimes even better than big leaps and that believing you can get the job really does help. Thank you so much!

  2. August 8, 2013 at 6:43 am

    Boy I needed this right now. Fully experiencing the frustration of under-employment but believing! Thank you for the encouragement!

  3. August 7, 2013 at 11:35 pm

    I got very sick in my second semester of library school and ended up leaving the field for five years. Then I went back to library school and have been in libraries for the last 25 years. At various points I even had to work at the clerical level to stay employed. When I was looking for a job a few years ago, I ended up settling for a job I was offered because I was tired of looking. It was a bad fit and I ended up resigning. It took me six months to find another position, which is the only time I have ever been out of work. But I am very happy in my current job. I too have had to work hard to keep perspective at times but I don’t think I would have advanced this far if my career path had been straight and smooth.

  4. July 15, 2013 at 4:43 am

    awesome! Thank you. We will make it.

    • Nena
      August 1, 2013 at 12:36 pm

      Thank you, and good luck!

  5. chris
    July 13, 2013 at 7:58 pm

    Thank you so much for this. At the moment, it is difficulty for me to be patient and wait for something. However, your article gave me hope. I got a believe Christmas ornament from the last person who I thought would give it to me.

    • Nena
      August 1, 2013 at 12:36 pm

      I am glad! Patience is hard, but it can really pay off.

  6. Susan
    July 6, 2013 at 3:24 pm

    Hello! Thanks for this article! This article was very helpful to me. Without going into too many specifics about my own job search, I could relate to a great deal of what you said. Thanks for sharing!

    • Nena
      July 8, 2013 at 12:53 pm

      You’re welcome – it’s great to know I’m not alone.

  7. Jeannine
    July 5, 2013 at 5:33 pm

    I guess I wish that I were at the point where I could believe that I would be doing what I had gone to school for (I also have an MLS) but I’ve been finding that I can’t even seem to get a paraprofessional position. I had a paraprofessional position until last December and I would like to find anything at this point that would help me to utilize the skills that I acquired but it’s just tough out there. I was wondering how you were able to get another position even though you were fired from your previous library position (did you have to disclose the reason for your leaving your previous position? If so, did you use said previous employer as a reference?). I am volunteering presently (in public libraries) but I certainly still need paid work. Any advice is certainly useful. Thank you.

    • Nena
      July 10, 2013 at 11:50 am

      Jeannine, I’m so sorry to hear that. It is tough out there!

      For perspective, I had 4 years between my two library jobs. By then, I wasn’t being asked about why I left, because I had built up a work ethic and accomplishments in the meantime that were more relevant, and I had recent references. In my non-library experience, I sought out projects and tasks that I could relate to libraries. Customer service goes very far! It took me a long time to really develop and rebound from where I started, but I think a lot of that was growing up.

      Attitude makes all the difference, as well. When I stopped thinking of being fired as the end of the world and stopped being bitter about it, things got better for me.

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