From Flight Attendant to Librarian: Making Your Non-Library Work Experience Work for You
I worked as a flight attendant for five years. During this time, I earned a Master’s degree in Library and Information Studies. I volunteered, interned, and polished my skills. But, I still did not have those valuable few years of library work experience on my resume. I wanted to get a foot in the door to the library world, but it seemed that every job description required at least two years of library experience. It was certainly frustrating. I did not have paid library work experience, but I saw my five years as a flight attendant as relevant experience, that would definitely make me a plausible candidate.
The difficulty would be convincing potential employers that my non-library work experience was valuable and applicable to a public library. What exactly did the experience of being a flight attendant do for me? I had refined my customer service skills with passengers, who were from all over the world, spoke many languages, and came from all walks of life. I was flexible in my work hours, transitioning from evening shifts, to morning shifts, and between time zones.I learned to work as a team member with an ever-changing group of people. I also learned CPR and self-defense; seriously, you just never know when and where this could come in handy. Most of all, I learned to be proactive, positive, and to be a leader. These skills, to me, were priceless. I just had to show my potential employers this value.
So, I used my cover letter to specifically and concisely express the skills that I had learned in my five years of flying the skies. I still was met with blank and confused faces when interviewed. It was entirely on me to explain my enthusiasm for librarianship, customer service, and exactly how my skill set made me, not only perfect for the job, but uniquely qualified.
My point is, no matter what your non-library work experience, it has given you experience and skills that will translate to the library world. However, a potential employer is not going to see this until you show it to him or her. Use the tools you have: your resume, cover letter, and interview preparation to precisely highlight why your experience applies. Most importantly, you have to be confident in your experience, even if it isn’t in a library.