by Lisa Iannucci, Assistant Editor, INALJ New Jersey
Jimmy V Was Right
In this economy, it’s easy to get bogged down in the negative jobs numbers they talk about on the news, easy to let yourself fall into a downward spiral, but I’ve learned first hand that it’s when you’re at your lowest, fate has a way of stepping in at just the right time.
Recently, I had a real dilemma on my hands. I had a full-time job as an assistant at a library I could walk to in ten minutes in a beautiful, historic building two blocks from the oceanfront. I had been employed there since beginning graduate school three years earlier, and while I had not intended to stay past completion of the program, I had found it difficult to walk away from full-time employment in the library field. Although it was merely a clerical position that didn’t even require the degree I now had, it was a regular job in a library with excellent benefits, and these days (as everyone reading this knows) those are hard to come by. So although I was massively overqualified, and had been since before I had even begun my MLIS program, I stayed at the position, thinking I could look for a “real” job in my specialty, archives/special collections, while working full-time.
A year went by before I knew it, and I became increasingly bored and discontented. I had done all I could do in the position and was ready to move on, but had not found another job. I had had a couple of interviews, but they were for part-time positions that were an hour’s commute away and not in the archives field. To make matters worse, my supervisor was also extremely unhappy and looking to make their departure, too. Little did I know that things were about to become far worse. I came in one morning to find that they had submitted their resignation, left their keys with the maintenance person, and walked out without giving the traditional two weeks’ notice. It was not like them, but there were personal and professional circumstances, and I understood the decision.
Unfortunately, with their departure, the pressure and negativity that they had felt immediately began to rain down on me. I was the new target, the one with the “bad attitude,” the cause of everything that went wrong, whether it was disgruntled patrons or a broken air conditioning unit. I grinned and bore it for a couple weeks, but when the library director took key job duties away from me, it was clear my services were not going to be required much longer. This suspicion was confirmed in the next few days, when I was passed over for a promotion. I took a weekend to think about it, and gave my notice on Monday morning.
With not much to do, I took to cleaning my apartment-purging closets and drawers that hadn’t been touched in years. I was depressed and bitter, chastising myself for every bad life decision I had ever made. I had been volunteering a couple places, which kept me busy, but wondering how I was going to pay bills (the unemployment hadn’t kicked in yet). In desperation, I had even applied for a couple of service-related jobs I had found on Craigslist. Things looked bleak.
I was in the middle of a cleaning project one sultry morning during last July’s heat wave when the phone rang. It was the special collections librarian from the university a few miles up the road. I had done my required internship with him the year before, and although things hadn’t worked out as we had planned task-wise, we had gotten along well and he had given me good references after the internship was completed. We had stayed in touch, but it didn’t look like much was going to open up in his department, or any other library department, for that matter. I hadn’t heard from him in months.
He got straight to the point—there was a part-time job with him in the reference department, only a few hours a week, Sunday nights, it wasn’t much—did I want it? Reader, I accepted.
I just started there this week, and it’s been great. Beautiful campus with lush green lawns, not one but two historic landmark mansions (one of them the library where I’m now working). Nice people, new challenges, faculty privileges, laid-back atmosphere. I might be able to do some special collections work in the future. And did I mention, it’s less than two miles from the ocean?
Last year when I interned at the university, I could not possibly have imagined that all this would really be happening. I still don’t believe my good fortune. So the moral here is, as coach Jim Valvano once said, “Don’t give up; don’t ever give up.” Keep believing in yourself, keep going. You know there are going to be bad days and good days; find a way to get through it, do it however you can (INALJ.com is a good place to start). You never know where or when opportunity is going to knock, and it’s almost always when things seem bleakest.