Monday, 1 August 2011

Things 10 and 11

Ok, Things 10 and 11: graduate traineeships, masters degrees, chartership, and accreditation; and mentoring. I think the two are instrinsically linked so I'll address in the one blog post. For cpd23 I've been asked to basically give a rundown of my career to date (a little scary!) by answering the following questions, so here goes!

Why I joined the career?
Like many library and information professionals, my first degree was in another subject (Early Childhood Studies, since you ask). I chose this degree basically because I was interested in the subject, the degree covered a broad range: psychology, sociology, health, education, research. As a person who is interested in lots of different subjects this was a good degree for me (I didn't have to make up my mind which one subject to hone down to!) By the end of my degree (which I loved) most people on my course had decided either to become a teacher, or to have nothing to do with children whatsoever! I was one of the latter. Knowing this I went to our college careers office and completed an amusing computer programme which advised me what careers I'd be suitable for. I decided against funeral director (the careers advisor told me the programme always brings this up if you say you want to work with people!). Seriously it did give me some good matches. I thought about librarianship, looked into it and decided it was for me. My main reason for being a librarian is to help people. I really passionately believe that information is power so I wanted to learn and use skills to empower people. I think librarianship offers a wonderful mix of being able to practically help people, whilst at the same time being an intellectually stimulating, analytical job, that's always changing and offers opportunities to learn new skills and be innovative.

Where am I now and how did I get here? (Sounds quite philosophical, doesn't it!?)
I'm a chartered librarian working for a disability charity. I've been in the role for a scarily long time (8 years) but I've done a huge amount while I've been here (both professionally and personally), including chartering, and the role is extremely varied and interesting. I chartered in 2006. There was no formal chartership scheme in place at my workplace but I was fortunate to have an experienced librarian as a manager who was very supportive of her team's professional development. My manager informally mentored myself and another colleague through the chartership process by providing a weekly professional development schedule. We met for an hour each week to discuss and reflect on a range of relevant topics. I found this support and input incredibly useful.

Prior to my current role I temped for an overseas aid charity (more about this later), and in a public reference library (very rewarding with a wide variety of visitors and enquiries). I also benefitted in the role from learning from more experienced librarians (this was my first job upon qualifying). I graduated with my Masters in Information Services Management in 2002, after undertaking a graduate traineeship at an overseas aid charity from 2000-2001. My graduate traineeship was a tremendous experience. It was here that I had the privilege of working with the person who will probably be the greatest mentor of my career. My manager in this role was visionary and inspiring. She encouraged me to undertake a wide range of roles in the library and to develop my own ideas. I very much enjoyed working for a charity and getting my teeth stuck into such an interesting subject matter. I took so many ideas from this job into my future career and role at the disability charity I currently work for. So where am I and how did I get here? I would say a mix of good fortune, hardwork, inspiration, and the benefit of learning from some amazing librarians.

What am I planning to do next?
Good question! I realise that my current role will inevitably come to an end. When the time is right I would be looking to move on to something equally as interesting, varied, and challenging. I used to think that I might go into academia but I fear that a) I may have left it too late; and b) the opportunities are not there so much in the current climate. In the meantime I keep things fresh by doing things like cpd23, developing new services, and writing in professional journals, newsletters and blogs. I would love to be a mentor and give something back if the opportunity ever arose. Should I ever be in a senior or managerial role I would certainly make the case for a graduate traineeship post in my team.

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