by Angela J.A. Kent, Head Editor, INALJ-Virtual Work
Navigating the Bend in the Road
The bends in one’s career path can appear with little or no notice or be well-mapped out ahead of time. They are those turning points when you start or leave a job; matriculate or graduate from an academic program; relocate for work or family; take a promotion; restart your career or make a complete career change.
The bend in my road was a career-making move for my husband whose position would relocate us to a new city. I completed my MLIS in December and was offered an academic librarian position right out of the gates. I was on my way to being an “INALJ Success Story.” I could see the road ahead.
But, with an impending move ahead, I had to turn my first librarian job and face the prospect of a new city with no job, no family or friends, and no professional network. While the former may be true for now, the latter certainly was not. Because of the investment in professional association membership, volunteering in leadership positions, attending conferences, and just remaining “plugged in,” I was able to readily connect with library and information professionals who not only knew the lay of the land, but shared the types of job opportunities that were possible in this new city. Unsurprisingly, one of my contacts advised to join the local library association and plan on attending their annual conference. I’m feeling more plugged in already!
It is amazing how far your professional network can really stretch. And, while you’ve undoubtedly heard it before, my network really is helping through this unknown time in my career. Signing up for listservs to keep up to date on job trends and movers and shakers in your field; taking on volunteer leadership roles; joining professional associations; and attending conferences are all investments in your professional development. It means never being alone when you’re trying to build your career. While changes to your career plan can be scary, having a network that can support and will work for you is worth its weight in gold.
Things that I know I’ll be using to help navigate through this new career trajectory (and I hope you will too!):
- Join a new professional listserv or add a news feed to your daily reader
- Consider virtual opportunities as fillers (time fillers, financial fillers, and/or job skills fillers)
- Take at least one course or seminar (online or in-person)
- Find at least one conference or professional event and commit to going
- Volunteer – anything that’s professionally and/or personally rewarding for you
Turning points are opportunities to take greater control of your career and a chance to think about what you like (and don’t like) in a job. It’s an opportunity to get creative with your career and incorporate the skills you really enjoy doing. That’s certainly how I found myself working at INALJ this year!
Perhaps this bend in the road will also take me out of my “career comfort zone” and give me that extra boost to try for job opportunities I might otherwise overlook. For you, maybe that means investing in your professional development and you take a course or attend a conference purely for your own interests and not just those that fit into your current job. Or, you taking on a part-time job, rather than full-time so you can take another class or volunteer that builds on the skills that are important to you. Or, you do something on the virtual end to fill that job skill you’ve always wanted to build on, or simply gives you the flexibility and extra financial support you need to work around your other career interests or needs.
Bends in the road can be scary, but what you do during this time and how you handle that turn, can be just as important as where you end up. So, whether you’ve had a bend in your career path pop up or you’re mapping out that next turn, lean into those turns rather than doubting where they can take you.