I Found my Dream Job but I’m Not Qualified
Sound familiar? As Head Editor of the INALJ Georgia page, I post jobs in the LIS field on a daily basis. Of course, many catch my eye. It can be difficult to see these amazing jobs pop up and know that I do not qualify. It’s no surprise, considering that I just started my MLIS in January and I’m brand new to the field. But, rather than wallow and feel frustrated that even applying for these jobs is far off, I recently started printing out job ads that interest me. Sure, these jobs will be long gone when I start looking for professional positions in a few years, but studying job descriptions is an amazing way to 1) discover what kinds of jobs catch my eye and 2) what qualifications my dream jobs are looking for.
So far I’ve discovered that I’m personally drawn to archivist, visual materials, metadata, museum, and similar positions. Once you have an idea of the kinds of positions you are interested in, study the job ads to see what skills they require. Hopefully, there will be a pattern! For example, here are some of the skills that visual materials archivist positions require: MARC, EAD, RDA, VRA Core, Archon, Abode Photoshop, Adobe Bridge, and DACS. I know a little MARC and RDA so far but the rest are unfamiliar to me. Now that I know what to work on, I make sure to look out for courses in my program that involve learning some of these metadata standards and skills. So, I know that I’m better off taking a metadata class than a course on multicultural youth literature. I hear a lot of librarians complain about how useless their MLIS degree is, but I think you get what you put into it. I’m carefully planning my coursework and may take an extra semester or two to graduate because I know what skills I need to qualify for my dream job.
Once you know the skills you need, I recommend setting aside an hour or two each week to work on them. You could also break your training into a few 30-minute sessions over the week. Pressed for time? Get up earlier! You can learn a new metadata schema while enjoying your morning coffee. Once you know what positions you are interested in, get involved with the appropriate organizations. We all know about ALA and our state library associations, but why not branch out? For example, ARLIS/NA (Art Libraries Society of North America) or the SAA (Society of American Archivists) are great organizations to join if your dream job is similar to mine. See what webinars, Facebook groups, Twitter chats, etc. are happening and get involved. For example, ARLIS/NA has lunchtime chats (with archived transcripts!) and webinars (yup, archived again!). This will help you reach out to others who have your dream job so you can network and get advice on how to break into that branch of librarianship.
Focusing on the bigger picture has really helped my confidence and enthusiasm in my program. I feel like I’m not just merely going through the motions of coursework, but really cultivating my career.