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?

 1. Do your best no matter what the assignment; you will always learn something from the experience.  None of us can predict the future – you never know what or who will lead you to an exciting new future.   

2. Be thorough in everything you do.  Dot those eyes and cross those tees.  Don’t make assumptions when you’re problem-solving – verify the details.  The details you skip over will be the ones your requester asks about.

3. Be approachable and a good listener.  People are hesitant to admit they don’t know something and need your help, and they won’t come back if they feel you’re making judgments.  Even with the “dumbest” questions, keep your voice and manner open and reassuring.  Gain their trust.

4. Look for the good in everyone.  If you hear something negative about someone, it’s OK to listen, but then make up your own mind.  I once had a new boss I was meeting for the first time and everyone said she was very hard to work for.  I kept an open mind, and later she was able to get funding approval for a new system we’d needed for 5 years.

5. Be curious, positive, practice continual learning, and enjoy what you do.  Enthusiasm is infectious and noticeable – you’ll gain a reputation as someone who wants to help no matter what the question.  Become an essential resource in your organization, and you’ll become an essential employee with the skills, knowledge and attitude to go where ever you want to go!

Marilyn Bromley

BNA Library

2011 Candidate for the SLA Board of Directors




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