by Nena Schvaneveldt, Head Editor, INALJ Utah
Believe (that you will get a library job)
I had a rough start to my professional life. I was quickly laid off my first job out of college and was fired from my first librarian job. In hindsight, I can see that I wasn’t quite ready to handle the real world, and the mistakes I made hurt me deeply. Not only had I burned some bridges, but I had also lost a lot of confidence. I wasn’t the golden child I thought I was. I was able to get a couple of jobs outside the field to help me grow, and fortunately, I had a couple of supervisors who really helped me mature as a new professional.
I was finally at a point where I wasn’t reeling from my early failures, working in an administrative job “just to get through graduate school,” when my boss announced that she was leaving. I was devastated. She gave people little gifts before she left. I got a plastic fake rock that says “Believe.”
At that time, I was about halfway through my master’s degree. I wasn’t working in a library, and no libraries seemed to be calling me back. I was sure, though, that they would when I was done. But I doubted. I had been fired from being a librarian, for crying out loud. Who’d want me?
I kept the rock on my desk underneath my computer monitor. I don’t know why I got “believe” instead of “hope” or “faith” or anything else, but it came to be a reminder to me to believe that I would get through whatever was thrown at me. I had to remember to believe that I made the right decision to go to graduate school, even when job searching wasn’t as easy as I’d hoped. I had to believe that I would get a job in a library.
I didn’t bring the rock to my new desk – the circulation desk at a small academic library. Instead, it stayed at home. I had to take a step back in my career to move forward. Although I’d worked my way up to a professional level in my last job, I had to go back to paraprofessional to work in a library. And when things get tough and I think I’ll never be a librarian, I remember that stupid rock telling me to believe.
After putting in a year of work, I got promoted. And one of the first things I brought into my new office was that rock. My career path isn’t remotely what I thought it would be. I thought I’d take one flying leap from graduate school into a librarian job, but it’s taking me a few small steps instead. But on most days, I believe.