Way back in the early 90s, I was an undergrad at a small school in central Minnesota. I was happily plugging along at my degree in psychology, trying to figure out what on earth I wanted to do for a living after graduation. The entry-level jobs my friends with degrees in psychology were getting didn’t appeal to me at all, so I knew I was going to have to cast a different net – and a net that likely included grad school – to end up in a career that I enjoyed and that would pay my bills. My imagination wasn’t that great – no one has ever accused me of taking wild risks – so I looked around my small liberal arts college in the middle of the cornfields and found myself very curious about the work of the librarians.
Unlike most people in the 90s who ended up in library school, I hadn’t ever actually worked in a library. But what I saw as an undergrad in my college libraries and what I experienced in my coursework helped me determine that the profession might be right for me.
Working with information? I definitely enjoyed that. I wasn’t particularly good at it as an undergrad – far from it – but I did have an odd fondness for working with the printed Psychological Abstracts that makes me smile to this day
Working with technology? Sign me up! I spent hours on the VAX terminals, figuring out how to chat with my best friend who was in college several states away. And no, I totally never got her best friend’s login information to their system and used his credentials to chat with her. I would never! 😉
Working with students? I totally liked doing that too. I remember watching several of the librarians at my school working with students and being intrigued by the interactions, which always seemed so collaborative.
Teaching? Yes! As a senior psychology major one of my courses was teaching lab sections of intro to psychology (the curriculum was pre-determined, so I didn’t get the chance to do that, which was fine with me). Our instructor videotaped us teaching labs several times a year, gave us lots of constructive feedback, and as it turns out, I both pretty good at it and enjoyed it (even though I think I threw up several times before teaching due to nerves.)
So I put a few things together in my head, and decided on library school. I’m only a little ashamed to admit that I deliberately looked for programs that required internships or co-ops instead of writing a thesis. Formal writing wasn’t my favorite thing to do then (funny – that’s still the case.)
I was ridiculously lucky to go to school when I did, where I did, and with the support I got from my grad school. It seems like there were way more entry-level jobs available when I was graduating than there are now, and while I didn’t have my pick of them, I did have a few in-person interviews in the months before I finished the program.. Fortunately, one of those interviews led to a job offer at a large university just an hour up the road from where my best friend lived and was in grad school. I took the job, moved from snowy central New York to humid south Louisiana, and have called myself “librarian” ever since then.