Nontraditional Career Paths

Debbie Schachter - Candidate, Chapter Cabinet Chair-Elect

"What sort of advice would you give to professionals in their first library-related position who might be interested in nontraditional career paths?"

As other candidates have blogged – we are in an ever changing environment, with new possibilities and opportunities for our careers. In fact, the concept of the "traditional career path" is something that many new professionals perceive as no longer an option.

New information professionals often are looking for employment in any area – to start their professional career experience – while others are specifically looking for career paths that seems to be wholly different from library & information centre work today. Regardless, as a new professional, it is most important to be open minded about the range of options that are available to you now, or that you need to more consciously work towards in the future. 

With any career possibility, the first thing that you should ask yourself is: “What am I interested in doing, professionally?” followed closely by: “What am I good at?” These two questions may not lead to the same answer – but fear not! As a new professional, you are usually in the position of having the opportunities to learn in the broadest range of potential career paths. It is important to be open to the options, to give yourself opportunities to try many different types of work as well as training, and to develop some answers to the two questions posed above.

For the new professional, this is your time to explore, develop and to enjoy the opportunities that come your way. One of the best ways to learn about different opportunities is to develop a broad network of colleagues, mentors and contacts. SLA is one of the best associations for offering these opportunities due to the varied and broad range of experiences and expertise that its members hold. SLA members are also notoriously generous with their time and advice, sharing their knowledge and encouraging new professionals.

Chapter and division events and publications, and the annual conference all help to provide contacts, opportunities and ideas for new professionals, on a personal as well as virtual basis. Your SLA colleagues will be happy to share their time with you.

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