This interview is over 1 year old and may no longer be up to date or reflect the interviewee/interviewees’ positions
Ulla de Stricker, on getting noticed
Anastasia: What is your dream job and why?
Ulla: Your question provokes reflection: If I were to imagine myself in any other role than the one I now hold, when would I have made the necessary deviation in the past? What decision would I not have made? Inasmuch as one’s current situation is always a result of many interlinked events and choices, it may be impossible to pinpoint any one “fork in the road” moment. Rather, one circumstance led to another, and as time went on, our deliberations cumulated into the very life we are living right now.
I feel privileged in that I am able to say “my dream job is the one I have”. I get to engage in a wide variety of projects and activities, and the flexibility of self employment greatly outweighs the occasional challenges of scheduling. I am able to devote a considerable amount of effort to volunteer work for my favorite associations, and I thoroughly enjoy all the people with whom I have forged relationships over the years.
However, since you ask: Were it possible for me to go back in time and make a few adjustments, I might now in hindsight seek out a career path more closely aligned with writing and linguistics. (We’ll ignore my passion for gold jewelry and fascination with aviation for now!) My inborn sensitivity to nuances of grammar and the need for me to operate in two languages keep my radar constantly on alert – to innovation as well as to the ever more frequent toe-curling violence done to clear and elegant expression. (See http://www.destricker.com/wp-content/uploads/2013/04/Article-Gallery-of-Language-Pitfalls-v2.pdf for 100 examples.) Fortunately, I do get to “wield my language stick” in my work as an author, editor, and translator; were there more hours in the day, I would wield it to a much greater extent!
Anastasia: If you could take any of your hobbies and create a job out of them or integrate it into your job what would it be? And how?
Ulla: Thank you for asking about integrating my hobbies into my work. I have a perfect example, not surprisingly involving aviation to some degree. Having traversed innumerable airports and train stations in my life, I am acutely aware of the role of signage and maps in helping travelers get to the gate or counter they need. I have seen wonderful examples of clear, unambiguous signage … and the opposite: http://www.destricker.com/communication/do-we-know-the-cost-of-information-imprecision/.
Were I to have the opportunity to weave this particular interest into a job, I would ask for a role as “chief signage and directional aid developer” for transportation entities the world over! In such a role, I hope I would get to override eager artists when their sense of graphic flair interferes with intelligibility – as in the placement of arrows in such a way that they appear to contradict the surrounding space or as in the incorrect use of punctuation (ah, the powerful difference between “Rooms 220, 230” and “Rooms 220-230”!). I remember standing on a train platform, desperately looking for information as to the destination of the train just pulling into the station. No sign. I had to let the train go by. What gives? Here’s what gives: Only one solitary sign was suspended over the entire length of the platform. I was standing directly BELOW it (even if I had craned my head back, I would still only have seen the thin underside edge). Naturally, a minimum of two signs are needed; then, if a passenger stands straight beneath one, he or she can see the other.
You wouldn’t happen to know of such a job, would you?
Anastasia: Favourite library you have been to?
Ulla: Having been in only a minute fraction of the world’s libraries, the universe of possibilities is limited – but my choice is the “Black Diamond” – the Royal Library in Copenhagen (http://www.kb.dk/en/dia/). The bold black glass edifice leans out over the harbor waters; inside, the architectural effect of the atrium concept with wave-form bridges delivers a stunning experience. Simply search the words images black diamond copenhagen and get lost in the spectacular photographs (Google provides the best gallery).
Anastasia: Best piece of job-hunting advice? Ulla: No piece of advice can surpass the simple “Get out there and get noticed!” Join the associations of your choice, volunteer for one or more roles, and attend as many meetings as humanly possible. Forge and nurture relationships far and wide … it is incredible how many opportunities arise as a result of being on other people’s radars. As readers of my blog know, I never cease to celebrate the value of professional engagement, and I am always citing my many colleagues who confirm the view that “we get so much more out of being active in associations than we could have imagined”. The enduring friendships I have been blessed to have through my volunteering are priceless and “cost” nothing but my willingness to prioritize networking. Encouragement is my middle name: No one will regret stepping up to volunteer in a community of peers. I advocate one more step: Run for office (http://www.destricker.com/career-strategies/standing-up-to-serve-and-voting-aiding-the-professions-future/)!
Thank you for the opportunity to speak with you—and thereby to colleagues “out there”. I am always happy to hear from anyone who wishes to speak with me about professional development and career planning.
Ulla de Stricker founded her consulting practice in 1992 following on a career in the information industry. Here, she held senior roles in client facing functions during the exciting time when electronic publishing and search systems were transforming the profession of librarianship. Today, she is a knowledge management expert assisting clients plan and implement their strategies for ensuring knowledge workers are optimally equipped to perform their work. She led a team of authors in developing the recently published Knowledge Management Practice in Organizations: The View from Inside published by IGI Global (http://www.destricker.com/publications/knowledge-management-practice-in-organizations-the-view-from-inside/). In Chapter 1 of another 2014 IGI book, Ulla comments on the future of the library profession as a whole (http://www.igi-global.com/chapter/influence-and-leadership/99503).
Ulla is a familiar figure at conferences and virtually through numerous webinars. Her professional engagement is legendary among those who—through the decades—have accepted her offers of career support. Her blog (http://www.destricker.com/km-blog/) regularly addresses matters related to professional engagement.