Thing 20 -My unexpected path into the information profession

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I came out of university in 2008 with a BSc in Philosophy and Psychology and really didn’t know what I wanted to do with myself.   I knew my degree wasn’t leading down a specific path, I didn’t want to pursue a career in psychology and philosophy is…well, it’s philosophy!

I had a part time job in retail and hated it, I was offered a full time job but knew I just couldn’t take it, I knew I had to leave.  I decided that I should do some temporary work until something that looked like it could be interesting came up.  It seems so long ago now that I can’t even remember what I thought might have been interesting!

So began what was to be long time of temping.  My first job was as receptionist for an outpatient clinic for an eye hospital.  Fairly quickly I knew this was not the kind of job I wanted to do, but it was money and I was picking up some ‘transferable’ skills.   That finished after a few months and my agent called me to tell me there was a temporary position at the hospital library, she informed me it would probably be “quite dull, stamping books etc”, despite that motivational comment, I took the job anyway.  I always went to libraries as a child, throughout school and university and have always enjoyed the environment, but like many of us, had never really considered it as a career move.  A friend of mine who I was living with at the time had just got a job as a graduate trainee in an Oxford University library and she was enjoying so I didn’t think it could be too bad.

Anyway, it soon became apparent that there was much more to librarian than I had previously thought.  And so my thirst to pursue librarianship as a career began.

Once I had declared my interest my manager was very encouraging and let me go to one day courses about librarianship and arranged visits to other libraries.  Unfortunately that job ended after a few months, but then began many, many, job applications for graduate trainee and library assistant jobs.

I lost count of how many I applied for but it took a whole year and several other miserable temp jobs before I landed my next job a part time library assistant at Oxford Brookes.  Though I generally didn’t enjoy my temp jobs, they did have advantages;

1. It was something better than nothing, financially at least

2. I picked up lots of admin skills that are useful for most jobs

3. I got less scared about starting new jobs

4. I learnt how to pick up new skills and learn how to use different computer programmes very quickly!

This was another good job, and an opportunity to work in an academic library rather than healthcare.  Whilst I got some good experience there, it was part time and term time only, so it wasn’t ideal from an income perspective.  I got a second part time job at a law firm and continued to look for other library work.

I also began my application for a masters courses.  I selected Aberystwyth distance learning course mainly because I knew I couldn’t afford to do a full time course and though my job was part time, it wouldn’t have allowed the time needed for a part time job.

I got onto the course at Aberystwyth to start September 2011.  Shortly after this I got an interview for a graduate trainee role that would go on to become my current job.  As it was a graduate trainee role I wasn’t confident I’d get the job as I had nearly two years experience already and would be starting my masters already.  However, I was wrong, I got the job and it has been great.  Work has been very supportive of my course and I have found it useful to apply to my work and vice versa. It has been yet again another eye opener to the variety of information jobs.  This information services department is online, with an e-library.  These is no customer service as our e-library is more of a gateway to public health information and freely available from our website.  We also do a lot of research which I have found really interesting and it is a continuously evolving environment compared to other places I have worked which is good.   I have also had the opportunity to do lots of other things, such as attend conference and become part of a taxonomy group in London.   My graduate trainee role came to an end and got extended for a further six months, so I am now an Information Officer.

The future…

I don’t know the future holds and to be honest I’m still not sure exactly what path I want to follow.  I know that I enjoy working in a health –based environment so would ideally like to stick to that.  I’m enjoying my job now, but know it could end shortly so soon I need to be considering what I might want to do next.  In the next year I should be finishing my masters, which I hope will open up more job application options should I find myself without a job.

As I said at the beginning, but beginning the library and information world were purely by chance.  Never before have I worked in a sector where there is so much networking and friendliness – it’s brilliant and I’m thoroughly enjoying myself.

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