Monday, December 10, 2007

Hills and Valleys and Your Career

Once again Steve Oberg, blogging over at Family Man Librarian, has posted a very candid and personal piece about librarianship, choices, decisions, and the hills and valleys that a professional naturally encounters on his or her career path. In his post, he cites--and is inspired by--a blog post written by Steven Bell, who discusses his ascent from librarian to director...while balancing family life and its hefty demands.

The theme shared by both authors is a general but poignant question: Am I where I should be professionally? In other words, have I made the right decisions, based on various environmental circumstances of the past, and am I happy with where I am professionally? Have I accomplished and achieved all that I could have? Their responses are surprising...and reassuring!

Regardless of the profession you find yourself in, whether librarian, archivist, or some other information professional, or whether you find yourself at the crossroads of life, the fact is we all start to ask such questions after a certain amount of years in the profession. Am I where I should be professionally? Did I envision something different?

We ought to expect peaks and valleys in our professional life, and incorporate them (as best we can, being mere mortals, of course) into our planning. There will be good times--moments of exhilaration, recognition--and bad times when the surrounding fluid sounds of success diminiss into a din of noise and static, where nothing seems to make sense.

Steven Bell, however, provides some insightful advice: Treat a career path as a runner treats a marathon. Plenty of pacing, planning, bursts of energy, moments to recharge.

I have been in this field since 2001, almost 7 years, and one thing I have gleaned, which I hope can be of value to anyone reading, is to keep one's short-term and long-term goals and objectives in mind, especially long-term goals and objectives. Never lose sight of those long term visions. There will be times when a short-term situation may seem to take precedence, like that lingering never-ending project, that contract extension, but never lose sight of the long-term. Keep running toward the longer-term goal. This is not a sprint, the fastest one past the finish line wins. No. This is a long run. Do not sprint toward the short-term, wasting precious time and energy. Focus your time and save your energies for the long-term.

To use another anology. This is a story, a book with many chapters. Some chapters last a long time, full of twists and turns. Other chapters, well, those we simply cannot wait to finish, to close, and move on.

Where ever you are in your career, if graduation day occurred a few months ago or several years ago, this is your professional career. This is a long run; it is a story with many chapters. Be ready to run the distance; be prepared to finish one chapter and start another.


myVision said...

I am lucky to be doing what I love: design and manage. It was a road full of surprising twists and turns and I ended up where I am mostly by being in the right place at the right time. Well a little something called talent and a killa personality had something to do with it too.

I know not everyone is as lucky as me so to all ya'll: don't give up, remember where you are headed despite all the detours. If you want it bad enough, it'll happen. It might be through sweat, blood and tears but hey you will need a good story to tell your kids or even grandkids one day. The whole "I had to walk a mile in the snow just to get to school" is way played out!

dkemper said...

Well said, myvision. I believe that there are some individuals with a little extra luck than others when it comes to finding and doing what they love.

However, in either case, lucky or unlucky, the fact is there must be hard work involved: If you want it bad enough, it will happen!!

Another familar story: There are moments when we discover that the career path we are on is the wrong fit. I think sometimes the hardest part is to leave and start anew in another direction.

Steve Oberg said...

Thank you very much for pointing to my site and my recent posting about careers in libraries. I appreciate your kind words. One thing: I noticed a problem with the links: http://http// should be, and http://http// should be

dkemper said...

Thank you Steve! Oops. I cannot believe I screwed up the URLs. Copy and Paste. Beware.

I thank you for posting sometimes very personal postings. Far too often I find some blogs only skim the surface of topics. Many of your posts, however, probe a little deeper, touching sensitive topics with clarity and insight.

David Hawthorne said...

Everyone wonders whether the grass is really greener. Here's one way to find out: Take a look at www., it's a personal career management tool, free through a network of colleges and universities -but anyone can join. It uses a social-timeline approach to do what it calls "lifescaping," -creating a visual map of your career and assets, and letting you compare what you have done to what others have done with simiilar assets. It takes a little work to enter some of you career profile info, but once done, you have a cool timeline of your career path and access to a database of profiles from other professionals. It's set up to do professional networking, and self-marketing, as well as personal career management. Check it out.

Padmanaban said...

Managing a career is ongoing. It's always up to you to judge where you want to go with your career

about the author

I am an information professional, researcher, and writer with over eight years experience in the information services field with experience in information and communication technology.

I have a B.A. in History and a Master's in Library and Information Studies and working on a Web and Multimedia Design certificate.

I believe that empowering people with information can enrich lives and transform the world.