This is an interview with Keisa Williams, a Training Consultant for the State of California, done by Naomi House of INALJ. This is part of INALJ’s 2020 series on non-library jobs for library workers.
On Training Consultant Work :
an Interview with Keisa Williams
Q1: Thanks so much for taking the time to help us better understand the work of a training consultant / government program analyst and how LIS folk can get into this field. First could you tell us a little bit about yourself, where you got your MLIS (or your educational background) and what you do?
I earned my MLIS at San Jose State University and landed my first librarian position at a middle school, just before graduating. I quickly learned that I desperately needed teacher training. I enrolled in a teaching credential program where I earned a Master of Education degree along with a Multiple-Subject teaching credential from the University of Phoenix.
My teacher-librarian experience includes:
- 1 year middle school- Title I public unified school district
- 6 years elementary- Title I public charter school
- 7 years online librarian- online technical college
- 6 years regional academic librarian- private university
Currently I am an Associate Governmental Program Analyst (AGPA) for the State of California. My job title is Training Consultant. I develop, facilitate, and evaluate statewide leadership and career development courses and programs. My job is 70% travel so I meet lots of interesting people and learn a lot about myself and others through teaching day-long soft-skills courses; 21 courses, 20-30 participants per class.
Q2: Now can you tell us how You personally got into doing this type of work?
After being laid off from three library positions due to budget cuts, campus closings, and school closings, I decided I needed to seek a more secure opportunity. I met someone in a meet up who encouraged me to seek employment with the State of California. At first, I only considered teaching or librarian positions, but as I learned more about the state and the opportunities there, I found that I qualify for a wide range of jobs.
Q3: What makes this a great field for LIS workers and likewise, what do you think make LIS workers strong candidates for hiring managers in this field?
Librarians are the ultimate program managers. Our library duties involve program evaluation and planning, policy analysis, systems development, budgeting, planning, management and personnel analysis, and providing consultative services to management and other stakeholders. We are also deeply engaged with the community. Librarians are highly skilled at gaining and maintaining the confidence and cooperation of business partners. Librarians make things happen.
Librarians qualify for several types of jobs in the state. Keep in mind that you may experience a significant pay cut when you first join the state because you are hired at the lowest level of the pay range. For me, having a job with great benefits and stability outweighed the decrease in pay. As a librarian, I spent over 5 years without a raise due to budget limitations and each year I knew my job was at the top of the chopping block, along with music and art teachers. With the State, you earn a 5% increase each year until you reach the top of your range and the union negotiates for additional increases. It also worked out for me that I moved to Sacramento, CA, which has a lower cost of living than the Bay Area, where I lived previously.
Here are a few jobs and job series I recommend for Librarians:
- Associate Governmental Program Analyst (also search for any job with analyst in the title)
- Staff Services Manager Series
- Information Technology Series
- Community Program Specialist Series
- Research Data Series
- State Historian
- Education Programs Administration Series
Q4: What is the best way to get your foot in the door or your first training consultant / governmental program analyst job? And your first state job?
Start by creating an account on the CalCareers website. Use the Exam/Assessment Search to take employment exams. Once you pass the exam, you are on the list for that specific job classification, and may apply to jobs in that classification. The exam for AGPA is a self-assessment. Don’t be modest here; value your skills at the highest levels. Then you may begin searching the CalCareers website for jobs. Make sure you follow all directions listed on the job posting and that you check your materials for spelling and grammar.
Check out the following resources for additional details:
My first job with the state was as a Publications, Legal, and Strategic Focus Analyst where my job duties included developing and executing project plans, maintaining a firm grasp of laws and regulations and translating that information in the form of newsletters, fact sheets, webinars, and trade show presentations. I stayed there for about a year before I applied to my current position. I desired more opportunities for face-to-face interaction as opposed to completing most of my day at a computer. Another perk with the state is that as long as you remain in the state, that counts as continuous employment with the State of California. You are encouraged to apply and move around the state to gain additional skills or to promote.
Q5: Finally what are some of the most important skills / certifications / etc that LIS folk can do to prepare them? Any last tips?
Librarians are more than qualified to work for the state right now with their current skills. Research “Analytical Skills” and “Complete Staff Work” and embrace your role as a problem solver. My biggest tip is to learn how to describe your librarian duties, using the language from the State job description, minimum qualifications for the job specification, and the duty statement, for each position of interest. If you want to be competitive, you will work hard to tailor each application package toward the specific job you seek. All hiring for California State jobs is merit-based, and merit is determined through the examination process. Examinations may include written tests, oral interviews, supplemental written exams, performance tests, and education or experience evaluations. The language you use in your application, resume, statement of qualifications (helpful video here), and interview are scored on a point system. The person with the most overall points is hired for the position. Check out all of the job related resources on the CalHr website and be prepared to answer behavioral interview questions using the STAR Interview Response Method.
Keisa Williams, MLIS, MEd, is a lifelong learner and teacher living her best life in Northern California. She is happy to connect with you on LinkedIn.
Pronouns: she, her, hers
Views expressed are those of the interviewee and not INALJ or their employer. Photo provided by the interviewee and permission granted to use it for this interview.