Question 1: Non-traditional Career Paths

What sort of advice would you give to professionals, both newly minted and more seasoned professionals, who might be interested in non-traditional career paths?

Stacey Greenwell, Candidate for Division Cabinet Chair-Elect

I would encourage any information professional interested in a non-traditional career to consider what SLA may have to offer in terms of learning, networking, and leadership opportunities.  In my own experience, my first professional position outside of public libraries was in desktop and server management in a university library’s IT department.  I had difficulty finding counterparts in other academic libraries, and thankfully several colleagues recommended I get involved in SLA’s Information Technology Division.  I quickly found others doing similar types of work in corporate, government, and academic environments. We found relevant programs to attend at SLA Annual Conference and eventually developed our own program, the IT Division’s Technical Support Roundtable, in order to further meet our learning and networking needs.

In addition to considering SLA’s variety of learning and networking opportunities, I would encourage those interested in non-traditional careers to think about building their leadership skills in SLA.  Speaking again from my own experience, I spent five years of my career as the lone librarian working with a group of IT professionals.  Serving as a volunteer leader in SLA helped me gain leadership skills that ultimately led to promotions and new opportunities.  Participating in volunteer leadership positions can build a variety of skills and help those in non-traditional roles stay engaged with other information professionals.

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One response to “Question 1: Non-traditional Career Paths”

  1. John DiGilio says:

    Conventional wisdom has long been that good things come to those who wait. Well, these are NOT conventional times. In today’s fast-paced, financially challenged market, good things come to those who go after them. This is as true of a rewarding career, especially a non-traditional one, as it is for anything else worth having these days. Taking an active role in SLA is just the first step in the chase. It opens doors to possibilities you may have never knew existed. However, once you get in the door, it is up to you to make the most of the opportunities. My recommendations are simple:
    Explore: SLA’s divisions and caucuses represent the full breadth and extent of our profession. The information professionals who make up this Association come from fascinating and wildly diverse sectors of the industry. You won’t know they are even there if you do not venture out to meet them. Just scan the list of units and you will be amazed at some of the groupings. Each one is an opportunity. Do not squander those possibilities, immerse yourself in them.
    Educate: Continuing education is a major component of what you get for your membership dollars. From Click U to sessions being offered by the various units. Again, you have to avail yourself of what is out there. If you want to know what some of your non-traditionally placed colleagues are doing, why not take the chance to hear it from them directly?
    Finally, Network. These one should speak for itself. But let me put it another way, “network like you mean it”. It is not enough to show up at events. You have get in there and rub elbows with your colleagues. You will be as fascinating to them as they are to you, IF you give them the chance to get to know you. I have gotten every professional position I have ever held this way.
    Good things may come to those who wait. But why wait? Do you have that kind of time? Being part of SLA is a golden opportunity to explore the frontiers of this profession. You just have to strap on your boots and get ready to stake a claim!

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