Tuesday, 29 March 2016

Former Librarian #12

We're starting to scrape the barrel a little bit for Former Librarians - lots of interest, but that hasn't necessarily translated into completed questionnaires - so if you are reading this and can help out then please do get in touch!  

Former Librarian #12 spent 10 years working in libraries and has now switched to the field of clinical research.  The new skill required in this role (aside from learning about clinical research governance) has been making cups of tea!

Current role: Research Coordinator on a clinical project.

Former role: Reader Services Team Leader in a University Library.

What led you to move on from libraries?  My career change wasn't entirely planned although it has been an excellent move.  During 2014/15 mental health problems had affected my life in a big way.  One of the things that I thought would help me would be to work part-time, but my former organisation could not support that long-term.  In order to find something where I would be able to work part-time, and to maintain the grade/salary that I was on, I needed to be very open in considering what I might move into.  Given that I had been in the same role for nearly 6 years and not managed to progress career-wise (although I had really continued to develop my skills over this time period), it was becoming obvious that libraries might not be an option, given that I was tied to a specific area.  I wanted to stay working for the same university (or very possibly the other one in town) as it is an environment that I feel comfortable in, so I concentrated my search on their job advertisements and tried to work out where my skills best fit.  Administrative roles within departments and administrative roles in clinical research seemed to be the most likely candidates.

What do you do in your current role? Rather like my former role, I do a lot of things and success in the role seems to be dependent on being able to do lots of different things and keep several balls in the air at once.  I look after the day to day coordination of a clinical research project (that involves IT and databases rather than a more obvious clinical trial) under a Programme Manager who has responsibility for the overall oversight of a number of projects.  This involves organising things and people!  I make sure that we are running on track, organise meetings, take notes, liaise with members of the project team, make sure expenses are paid and that our finances are tracked, make cups of tea (!), ethics applications, and research governance agreements.  As I am still so new in post and new to the field, quite a lot of it is done with guidance from the Programme Manager but there are definitely days when I leave work feeling like I have done some good research coordination!  I have to say that it is very refreshing doing something new and it's nice to feel totally enthused about work. 

What library skills do you use in your current role? I suspect that my organisational skills are perhaps the most useful on a day to day basis.  However, I would like to think that my customer service skills give me a day-to-day willingness to help and sort out problems and maintain a cheerful expression even when we are rewriting an ethics application yet again. Attention to detail is good for checking through reports and publications and I seem to be quite good at spotting inconsistences (as well as improving English - there's definite benefits to the team in having a humanities graduate to hand!).  One of the mandatory pieces of training for me was "Information Governance" but the concepts felt very familiar to me coming from a library/information background.

Do you think that your library skills helped you to get this position? I almost feel the opposite.  I spent a lot of 2015 applying for different roles and I did not get any interviews until the one for this position.  I did start to wonder if I was being pigeon-holed by the fact that I was working as a librarian, even though I could clearly demonstrate that I had skills relevant to the essential selection criteria.  I described myself on my CV as an information professional and I used a skills-based CV but it didn't seem to work!  My current manager is very accepting of a non traditional background for this role (in fact she also came from a non traditional background) and so was perhaps more open to shortlisting me.  Subsequent discussions have led us to agree that my skills are very relevant and useful to this sort of role, but perhaps recruiting managers may sometimes believe that experience of clinical research is essential.  It hasn't been.

What other skills have you had to acquire since leaving the library profession in order to enable you to carry out your work? I've had to learn an awful lot of things!  Coming to clinical research from a humanities background, there are many differences, in terms of jargon, and the way that people seem to work.  "Good clinical practice" knowledge is an essential induction requirement for anyone working in clinical research and I had to do 5 online training modules in this.  I've had to learn a lot about the research ethics process.  I'm in the middle of learning about patient engagement and involvement and how best to go about these activities.  I've learnt how to use Microsoft Project and to produce Gantt charts.  I've also learnt how to choose and negotiate over meeting venues, what sort of sandwich selection is appropriate for a post-meeting lunch (I agonised over this for several days) and how to set up a teleconference!

Do you maintain any professional memberships or are there new ones which are more appropriate?  I have maintained CILIP membership for now but that is more to do with the fact that I am still mentoring three chartership candidates.  I am not sure if I will renew again at the end of this year.  I do not think that there are any other more appropriate professional organisations.

Do you have any future plans/aspirations?
I'm very aware that my current role is a fixed term contract, and to be honest, almost all roles in this area will be.  Although I have been reassured already that I should not find it difficult to get another role based on current performance (and with all of this lovely experience under my belt), I am thinking about ways in which to make myself more marketable at the end of my contract.  I am weighing up the benefits of a couple of different Postgraduate Certificates (one in health research, one in systematic reviews).  Otherwise, it is taking advantage of all of the training on offer (and there has been a lot!).

Anything else that you’d like to tell us?  One of the best bits about my role after working in a library for so long is the ability to eat and drink at my desk whenever I like (well, perhaps not on a teleconference...).

Tuesday, 22 March 2016

Former Librarian #11

This week, Former Librarian 12 has done two very different things since leaving libraries. The first was a manager with responsibility for disability in student support services; the second and current occupation is as a full-time Mum!

Name: Anonymous

Current role: Full time stay at home mum, but my last paid job was as a manager in student support services (specifically disability) within a University setting

Former role: Disability Librarian in a University

What led you to move on from libraries? I was promoted from an assistant librarian's post in a small library within a large University into the newly formed disability librarian because I wanted a challenge, and also the pay was better. After a few years of setting up a new service, and working with a lot of assistive technology and supporting disabled students in libraries, I wanted to move on from where I was and back into a more traditional librarian's post. I found, however, because of the disability in my title, and what I had been doing with assistive technology and access, myself a bit pigeon holed and struggled to get back into traditional reader services. As I wanted to leave the institution I was in, I applied for several jobs in disability support and found myself as a support manager in a large academic insitution, as it involved helping to set up a new service, which is what I had done previously. I gave up the job at the start of my maternity leave for my second child because I found it very hard to do a stressful job and also be a mum. I wasn't happy in the role at all, and I found the stress of knowing I was going to back to work again at the end of the maternity leave was too much. It had been hard going back after my first child was born and I didn't want the same situation again.

Current role: Full time Mum, but before that Disability Team Manager

What do you do in your current role? In my role as Full time Mum I manage two small children and all that entails. It is definitely 24 hours a day and you don't get paid! I get children up, sort them out for school, pick them up from school, do the majority of the household chores and organise the food for the week, day trips at the weekend, buying all they need, organising children's parties. It is full on and extremely rewarding.
When I was in my previous paid job in disability support, it involved managing 6 people in their roles working and supporting disabled students. I had to: organise making sure they all worked efficiently, and get involved in disciplinary issues; manage service rotas; plan for new services, and improve the ones we had; liaise with a lot of staff in different faculties and advise on whether what they were doing regarding access and support for students was legal and correct. It was more of a managerial post than supporting disabled students.

What library skills do you use in your current role? I certainly use my library skills in my role as a mum. It involves major organisation on a daily basis! Timing is everything, and I have to schedule in tasks for every day - food shopping, cleaning, washing etc. I'm also constantly tidying up - it's like a never ending reshelving task. As we've been having a lot of work done on our house, I've had to liaise a lot with different workmen and having set up a service in a library, I know all that involves. I also had a bit of budgetary responsibility and that comes in very handy with monthly budgeting.
As Disability Team Manager, I definitely found my skills from librarianship were hugely helpful. All of the organisation; working towards deadlines; dealing with people from all areas of the University and at all levels; budgeting.

Do you think that your library skills helped you to get this position? Certainly for my last paid role all my experience in libraries helped me get it. For my role as a Mum, given my husband is also a librarian, that's a definite yes :-)

What other skills have you had to acquire since leaving the library profession in order to enable you to carry out your work? I definitely think I didn't have as many skills in general management as I needed, particularly when working with difficult people. I was lucky in that the situations I came across in librarianship were not as severe as those I walked into. I've definitely improved on those since my last paid job, and they have improved tenfold since becoming a mum - I've learnt to say No a great deal now, and give reasons why, and deal with subsequent tantrums - something you think you never would have to do with adults in the work place, but in higher level management, you do.

Do you maintain any professional memberships or are there new ones which are more appropriate? None.

Do you have any future plans/aspirations? Not at the moment, until my second is at school and I have a little more time to myself.

Tuesday, 15 March 2016

Former Librarian #10

This week, we welcome Former Librarian Lisa onto the blog who has some very interesting and extensive answers to the usual questions.  Lisa's career is interesting as circumstances meant that she did not take up a library role after gaining her library qualification, instead taking on employment with an education company.  Over the last few years she has diversified into a portfolio career that involves editing work (as did Former Librarian #8) and career coaching.  Despite not having followed a more obvious library path, Lisa feels that her "inner librarian" is of great use to her work.

Name Lisa Russell

Current role: Self-employed Editorial Project Manager at Careershifters, and career change coach.

Former role: Editorial Project Manager at a vocational training company (2008-16)
And previously: Digidocs Project Assistant at the History Faculty Library, Oxford, 2006-7 Graduate Trainee Library Assistant, Nuffield College, Oxford, 2005-6

What led you to move on from libraries? I was all set to move into permanent library work after completing my master’s degree in Library and Information Science. I had a role lined up and had gone through an extensive recruitment process to get it. However, the position involved relocating to a completely new area. After I moved I realised I was deeply unhappy living in the new area, so far from family and friends. Although the job was phenomenal, I wasn’t prepared to sacrifice everything to stay in it. So I decided, reluctantly, that I needed to move back home. Living in the Home Counties, the best chances for finding library work are in Oxford or London. I ruled out London as I didn’t want a repeat of the previous situation, and instead scoured the Oxford library listings for potential opportunities. I had a good interview for a post but wasn’t successful. With financial pressures mounting, I looked for work closer to home, in Berkshire, while temping with a start-up training company run by an old schoolfriend’s parents. I had another interview lined up in a public library for outreach work, but my friend’s parents were so impressed with my skills (mostly librarianship-related: to do with managing their data and conducting research) that they offered me a permanent role, at a much higher salary than the public library post could offer. I felt that I could carve out a role at the company using my information skills, and decided to try this route, hoping to become an advocate for the information profession within the company’s immediate network, and to help my employers to see the benefits that information professionals could offer. However, this did mark the end of my seeking work in a traditional library environment. My wishes for the post certainly played out, initally. I even contributed to a CILIP event on the art of ‘negotiating’ one’s own role. However, as the company grew, my role shifted from information and data, to developing the learning programme and working with actual learning materials. This felt natural for me as it used both my librarianship skills and a host of editorial skills that I had also developed over the years. I remember feeling that the new role was a perfect blend for me, although I doubted that the ‘true’ library profession would consider that I was still a librarian at all! Over the years I became deeply disillusioned with the way the company was being run and decided to take my career back into my own hands. I became self-employed and started an editorial services business. Although this didn’t initially generate much work I learnt a lot about how to set up a business. Alongside this, seeking a fresh start, a new income stream and a different challenge, I decided to train as a personal coach. I set up my coaching practice in 2013 and have been working with clients ever since. Alongside this, my editorial work led to a contract for subediting work, and later editorial project management with the major career change organisation, Careershifters. I have since started to niche my coaching practice into the arena of career change coaching. I am now a true portfolio careerist, using a mixture of editorial, librarianship and coaching skills with a little entrepreneurship to create a career mix that works for me.

What do you do in your current role? For Careershifters, I maintain a busy editorial schedule, planning content, sourcing it and liaising with authors to ensure that it is delivered on time. I also maintain various content logs, chase progress and deadlines (also known as cat herding), and ensure article comments are responded to by the team in a timely manner. I run the team’s editorial meetings, and ensure that appropriate progress is being made towards quarterly and annual team goals. I write social media posts about the various pieces of content we publish, and help prepare weekly newsletters that showcase the best of our output for a growing mailing list (currently around 70,000 subscribers). I also subedit all content that is published by the team and am developing processes with our founder to ensure that the quality of archived material is frequently reviewed and improved in line with high editorial standards. The work is flexible and team members all work remotely; therefore, it fits well around my family commitments.

What library skills do you use in your current role?
* Categorising information and noticing patterns and themes within it
* Digitising information
* Team-knowledge capture and systems / process documentation - something the team is particularly keen to ensure
* Understanding information search behaviours
* Understanding user experience online
* Various organisational and project management skills learnt through running library projects in the past.
* A certain way of thinking – a systematic and detail-orientated approach that supports and provides structure to the more creative work of others in the team – that is common, I think, to many librarians

Do you think that your library skills helped you to get this position? Yes, but perhaps in a subtle way. I am more organised and methodical as a result of my library experiences. I can see both fine detail and the big picture. The team needed an editor that could employ this approach to best support its work. And this makes me an ideal person to maintain the organisation’s content archive. The founder really responded well to this aspect of my experience during our recruitment conversations.

What other skills have you had to acquire since leaving the library profession in order to enable you to carry out your work? I gained a formal proofreading qualification from the Publishing Training Centre. I also undertook my coaching qualification and subsequent specialist career change coach training.

Do you maintain any professional memberships or are there new ones which are more appropriate? I have let my CILIP membership lapse as it’s simply not required in my role. I was a member of the Society for Editors and Proofreaders for some time. Now I am a member of the International Coach Federation.

Do you have any future plans/aspirations? So many! I want to add another business element to my portfolio career, perhaps making and selling something rather than offering a service. I have a few ideas, but they are all still in development at the moment. I also want to gain my ACC credential with the ICF and continue to niche my coaching practice into career change work. I want to continue developing my role with Careershifters, becoming a contributor for the team.

Anything else that you’d like to tell us? I used to worry about the fact that I wasn’t overtly making use of my library skills in the traditional sense; I even worried that I was wasting all those years of training and study. I even used to feel I had to justify myself when people asked why the library ‘thing’ hadn’t worked out for me. But, actually, I look back now and consider that those skills are a hugely important aspect of my career. The Careershifters team LOVE my ‘inner librarian’ and how I am able to bring those skills to bear on my work. Blending those skills with my editorial talents, and now my career change coaching (and content) work, has allowed me to develop a unique portfolio career that feels more thoroughly ‘me’ than anything I have done before. I couldn’t have got to this point without my work in libraries.

Tuesday, 8 March 2016

Former Librarian #9

This week we welcome Helen as Former Librarian #10 to the blog.  When I started this project, I wondered if unemployment might be a driver towards moving beyond the profession, but this is the first time that it has come up.  What is interesting is that Helen is very clear that her library skills are important to her in her current role and that they are sufficiently important to her that she is aiming towards Fellowship of the Chartered Institute of Library and Information Professionals.

Name: Helen

Current role: Development Officer at a professional member organisation

Former role: Support for Learning Manager (three departments including Learning Resources) at an FE college.

What led you to move on from libraries? Redundancy. After a few months of unemployment I widened my search parameters beyond the specific libraries field.

What do you do in your current role? I work on accreditation of learning providers and career development for members as well as general member support (wider team responsibility)

What library skills do you use in your current role? Organisation, desk research, project management, and general knowledge & reference skills

Do you think that your library skills helped you to get this position? Definitely.

What other skills have you had to acquire since leaving the library profession in order to enable you to carry out your work? Techology! Most of the contact and support is remote, and we make the most of the products available.

Do you maintain any professional memberships or are there new ones which are more appropriate? I have continued with my CILIP membership as it is the most relevant.

Do you have any future plans/aspirations? Fellowship of CILIP!

Anything else that you’d like to tell us? This isn’t the first time I have moved sideways from the profession in my long career. I’ve always found the experience interesting, enjoyable and relevant.