Location, Location, Location: If I Can Make It There…?

by Kate Kosturski, Head Editor, INALJ NYC

Location, Location, Location: If I Can Make It There…?

katekosturskiWhile I was at New York Comic-Con this weekend, I received the following email:

I did my MLIS at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee. I moved to New York to pursue an internship for school at an archive and then finished school out here. Since then, I have been looking for jobs. I do have a part time position with the archive I interned with, and recently acquired a library post-graduate internship through the college I work at. Do you have any ideas or tips on how to find a full time position in NYC? 

It’s wonderful to have a focus in mind for your job search. One of the biggest mistakes I made was a virtual wallpaper of job applications. Did it say “academic librarian” either in the title, or the job location? Then it received an application from me – whether it was in New York City or North Dakota. I was keeping my options open, but I was being too broad about it. (In fact, one interview actually brought up where I was living as a possible barrier for me staying in the position, as I would be moving from my very urban/suburban locale to a very rural part of Maryland.)

Now, we have the other side of the coin – looking for a job in just one location. Just like being too broad, being too narrow is problematic. First, you’re closing yourself off to other wonderful opportunities just because they’re not in your dream location. Second, if the location has a strong library program (or programs), you’re competing against a large pool of candidates already in place. In the New York City metro area, we have five library schools – Pratt Institute, Queens College, Long Island University, St John’s University, and Rutgers University.   Southern Connecticut State University, Drexel University, and even Simmons College are a short drive (or BoltBus/Amtrak/Metro North) trip away. Thus, the pool of students and recent grads looking for jobs is quite high.

If you have a specific reason to stay in a certain location – such as a spouse/partner’s job, a mortgage, or children – then it’s okay to be that narrow in your job search. But, my job seeker looking for advice is pretty much here because he/she moved here for an internship and just liked it so much he/she wanted to stay. Is that a valid reason to focus your job search in one place?  Possibly, but not in my worldview. There may be a great job for this person in Philadelphia, St. Louis – or North Dakota – that they’re missing because it’s not New York City.

So, how would I answer this query from an INALJ fan?  What tips would I give her for finding a job in New York City?  Just one:  don’t spend all your time finding a job in New York City. Take a look a little outside the NYC bubble (but not too far – learn from my mistakes!) and you’d be surprised at what you find.

I know that this can be a very contentious topic – so sound off in the comments?  What are your thoughts on the location question?

  1 comment for “Location, Location, Location: If I Can Make It There…?

  1. Erin Kinney
    November 1, 2013 at 10:52 am

    I’ve always been a huge proponent of getting a job outside of the metro area where you got your MLS. When husband and I graduated from Florida State, it was nigh impossible to get a professional job in Tallahassee, so we applied for jobs in a certain geographic region. He grew up in Nebraska and I had lived in Colorado, so we applied for jobs in those square states in the middle (Kansas, Nebraska, Wyoming, and Colorado). We both landed professional library jobs in the same town in Wyoming. While conducting job interviews in Wyoming, one has to make the candidate aware of exactly what it is like to live in Wyoming (or Alaska, or rural Nebraska, etc.). I know of a librarian who moved to Wyoming (in a January blizzard) only to have his spouse rebel, so they moved back to Florida, after only one day on the job. Don’t count out specific areas of the country in your job search, but also understand yourself to know if you are the type of person who wants to live somewhere that has a variety of shopping or restaurants, or if living near the great outdoors is more your style.

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