Nontraditional Career Paths

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

David Cappoli
Candidate, President-Elect

Join SLA. This may be a cheeky answer, but members’ diverse experiences and their generosity of time to counsel make membership a necessity. Connect with those in SLA who share your interests and work within industries and organizations where you might have a role. These are the people who can become formal or informal mentors, and help guide you and shape your career.

Understand the requirements necessary to succeed in your non-traditional path, and work towards attaining these competencies through training, shadowing, and emulating those who have excelled. Build on your talents and make the most of continuing education opportunities, virtual and face-to-face, that will enhance your career and expose you to experts.

Develop confident communication skills. Conveying your thoughts and ideas in an easy and concise way, with a bit of humor, engages people who will come to value your views. Work on these skills by interacting with others at programs; participating in committees; and, being a part of presentations.

Showcase your talents. If you are trying to enter a field that is unaware of the importance of an information professional, you need to demonstrate your abilities. Use social networking tools to push you and your capabilities to link you to the broader world.

Break free from your comfort zone, and be willing to take chances.  Flexibility is a trait sought by decision-makers. While this is not always an attribute associated with information professionals, develop it within yourself because positions and roles that do not change are rare.

Be prepared to lead and nurture those following in your footsteps. By taking on leadership and mentoring roles, you will further develop your network by engaging those new to the profession. You will help continue the high standard of support that helped you in your greener days, and continues to be a part of your professional foundation.

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