Advice for those investigating non-traditional career paths — Juliane Schneider, Candidate for Div. Cab. Chair-Elect

Thanks to the commenter who pointed out that I forgot to say who wrote this – I’m Juliane Schneider, Candidate for Division Chair-Elect!

This question poses two challenges: first, find where the non-traditional jobs are, and then to find the people in those jobs and see what skills are required to do them.

The answer to both of these questions is your local chapter.

If you want to find new or non-traditional jobs where a Library Science/Information degree would be appropriate, go to your chapter listserv, or attend a chapter meeting and ask about who they know within that chapter that have non-traditional jobs.

Once you have some name of contacts, either contact the people directly and ask for an informational interview (and contrary to stereotype, we’re almost always thrilled to talk about ourselves) or consider organizing an event around this topic, using the contact list you have as a starting point for speakers.

This could be a formal event – in 2011, the Boston chapter held an event featuring a panel of librarians in areas like funding research and taxonomy creation/management. Despite the evening being cold, windy and sporting monsoon-like conditions, 60 out of 70 registrants still attended.

Dine-arounds are always a popular option. It gives everyone a chance to talk on a casual level, and they’re easy to organize and cost the chapter nothing.

Another strategy is to go to the Chronicle of Higher Education, Monster or other job lists and read the descriptions. Don’t focus on the requirements! Wait for the job description that makes your brain ping with sudden interest, or the one that sounds like the most fun you could imagine having and being paid for it. THEN look at the requirements and see if you think your skillset would fit.

Finally, sometimes there are ways you can strategically redirect the job you currently have into more non-traditional channels, if you are interested in taking strange paths (I love strange paths!). Metadata Librarian is my title, but I project manage, collaborate with software engineers to create tools, collaborate with faculty on a variety of projects involving discovery, and create ontologies. I did this by trapping people in breakrooms and asking to join teams, by putting out the word that I was interested in ontology research, and jumping on any project that might have potential to become interesting. Some worked, some didn’t, but overall, it lead me to a much more interesting job than my title might imply.

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