I was prompted to write this after seeing some discussion on twitter about the merits of planning ahead, which covered a variety of approaches from 5-year plans to no particular plan whatsoever. I am generally in favour of planning, but I must say that I think 5 years is a bit unmanageable. How on earth are you able to predict what might happen to you in that time, and therefore what path your life (let alone your career) might take?
As I summarised in a couple of tweets, my life looks hugely different now to how it did 5 years ago. In 2007 I moved to London to take up a 1 year contract at a law firm library whilst studying for the 2nd year of my LIS MA at UCL. In the intervening 5 years I qualified, spent 3.5 years in a fascinating and challenging job, took on all sorts of CPD activities, and registered for Chartership. On a more personal level, in that time I also met and married my now husband, and thanks to a change in his working circumstances found myself handing in my notice and moving to New York.
In fairness, I could probably have predicted some of this. Part of the reason behind my move to London was for better professional opportunities, so it’s kind of obvious that I would take advantage of some of the things on offer. Chartership is also a fairly predictable step for a newly qualified librarian, so that isn’t so surprising either. Were I still in my previous job I might have been starting to think about the next step in my career, and I believe it is possible to plan how the building-blocks for longer-term aspirations might be put into place.
I really don’t want to criticise anyone else for their choices, and thinking about it all further I do really like the idea of having a nice neat plan in place. Once again, I guess I have to admit that at the end of the day I’m simply rather jealous of those who manage their lives better than I do!
Finishing Chartership (or any other significant phase of personal professional development) is a great moment to look to the future, and I know that I will have to do that too (once I finally get around to submitting the thing). I’d love to say that my future plan will be a meticulous piece of well-thought-out development aspirations, but I very much doubt that it will!
Realistically, what I’m aiming for are a set of broad objectives to keep my motivation going for the next year or so. As I’m currently not working it will be important for me to maintain my existing connections with the profession, and I’d be stupid not to take advantage of being in a different part of the world and try to expand my networks here too. I haven’t thought this through properly yet, but as a preliminary guess my plan will probably look a little like this:
- connect with librarians in the US
- attend an SLA conference
- continue following UK library news
- look into NYC library volunteering opportunities
I’d be really interested to hear your thoughts about life/career planning in the comments, and good luck to anyone currently putting their own plan together!
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