All posts in: grad school

07 Aug 2013


Yesterday was my one year anniversary as a full time, professional librarian.

Working full time is not what I thought it would be like. But then again, I didn’t think that in between working part time and working full time I would work 17 part time jobs at once while going to grad school.

Working full time at my job is not what I thought it would be like. It’s better. It’s worse. It involves more spreadsheets.

A while ago I read Brené Brown’s Dare Greatly and refused to review it here because I could barely even read it without weeping much less write about it. It’s a book that sits under my skin.

There’s a chapter where Brown asks her interviewees what makes them feel most vulnerable – that emotion, that state that we love, we hate, we need – and I still remember the answer that stopped my breath for a second on an airplane in January.

I love it. I do. I mean, sometimes I hate it, but the next day I go back to indifference and then a few days later I take a look at how g.d. lucky I am and I love it again.

I’m a young person in her first professional position. I don’t know if I’ll be here until I’m 30 or 40 or 65. I worry that the timing isn’t right, that public service will kill my spirit, that this city will kill my spirit.

But I also worry that there won’t be another job for me quite like this one. It’s been a real blessing. I’m so glad all this schooling and anxiety and reading and nonsense has led me here. It’s just where I need to be.

21 Sep 2012

notes from the job hunt, vol. 4 – the end

Between March and July, I applied for 43 jobs. I applied for part-time and full-time positions, children’s librarian positions, teen librarian positions, school librarian positions, and academic librarian positions. I applied for editorial assistant positions, academic advising positions, and administrative assistant positions. I applied for jobs in Massachusetts, Connecticut, New Jersey, New York, Chicago and elsewhere. Jobs I thought I was qualified for, jobs I didn’t. Jobs that paid a good amount of money, jobs that paid nearly nothing.

I was considered for 7 professional positions over three months. I interviewed face-to-face for two public librarian positions in suburban Connecticut and one in southern Massachusetts. I had a Skype interview for a big-deal fellowship and did an all-day campus interview at an academically ridiculous boarding school. I had a phone interview or two.

I rented my first car and drove 3+ hrs away by myself for an interview. I bought a suit jacket. I turned down a job offer that didn’t seem like a good fit. I cancelled an interview at the last minute because I got a better offer.  I still managed to show up to two different jobs every week while all this was going on. I still do not have a smartphone. It’s been a bit of a ride.

Some generic words of wisdom. I think what helped me get a job was working hard for a number of years, filling up my resume diligently with stuff I actually wanted to do that would be useful for my career. It wasn’t always easy to execute, requiring sacrifice and time management and all the other bullshit I complain about in every other post for the past 700 posts. But after I sat around for almost a week, fretting about whether or not I would accept an internship or take on another job, I decided that I was tired of fretting and I was just going to say “yes” and figure out the rest later. I remembered this again and again as different opportunities came up – just say yes.

Every internship and job and other opportunity I pursued was because I wanted to, because I thought it would be fun, because I thought it would be a good way to spend 10-20 hours a week. Maybe this was a luxury, but if you can overload yourself with professional stuff you like to do rather than watching Netflix, you should probably do that.

In terms of applying, I knew that I would be anxious and stress about every.single.application. So I decided to just apply for everything, that way I would constantly be applying for something new instead of stressing about any that were pending, if I got a rejection there would always be another iron in the fire, and it just all became a somewhat annoying painful lifestyle instead of a million personal affronts. I’m not sure that I would recommend applying for as many as I did – yes, the cover letters you breeze through will suffer for it. However, I managed to get interviews for cover letters both mass produced and individually crafted, so there’s that.

One tip that helped me immensely with my last few interviews was bestowed upon me by my darlingest of roommates who is a notoriously amazing interviewee. After so many interviews that were good-but-not-great, many of which had led to “no’s,” I needed help. She was a bit flummoxed, though. She said something like, “I don’t know what to tell you… I just tell them that I’ve been working hard for three years or more to have a position like this and that you would be happy to take the job if offered.” That was the key that unlocked something in my brain – I could see how at all my previous interviews, I’d vacillated between dangerous bravado and unnecessary humility. Either I was a cocky rockstar, too cool to work for your library, or I didn’t give myself the credit I deserved; neither attitude inspires confidence in an interviewer. The solution: just tell them you’ve been working hard for three years and that you’d be happy to take the job. I did both of those things at my next interview and got hired.

So, that is how I got a library job after grad school. The end. It is comforting to think about how this is the only job hunt that will feel quite like this one. I will never be a new grad again. I will likely be looking for a new job while currently employed, or have some sort of defining criteria (location, salary requirements, etc), and from here on out I will have at least this little bit of full time experience to rely on. Thanks for everyone’s support and thanks – it was cathartic to come to this space and try to parse out how this job hunt was going and how I was feeling and whether I was going in the right direction. and thanks for reading along.

Notes from the Job Hunt – Volume 1 | Volume 2 | Volume 3

05 Aug 2012

alma mater

Out of all the unbelievable things that have happened over the past few weeks, one change stands out as particularly unfathomable:

I am leaving Simmons.

This goes beyond “Oh, I am graduating, boo hoo, let me get sentimental about this place where I learned and changed SO MUCH, omgg.” No, I am not feeling sobby – I am feeling perplexed, disbelieving, like moving away from your childhood home – you really never thought that you would leave, but here you are with your bags packed.

I’m not sure I have expressed how much time I spent at school. So much. So much time. It was my school, but also my place of employment. I worked anywhere between 20-40 hours a week for three years, plus 6 to 12 hours of class, plus other various school related activities, talking with people in the hallway, sending mail, buying index cards, eating meals, attending conferences, etc, etc, etc. I know how to book a room for an event, who to call if you get locked out of your office, which bathrooms have free tampons, which printers will print color for free, which baristas will give you 2 ice cubes in your iced coffee unless you specify.

Now, when I visit, it will truly be my alma mater and not The Place I Practically Live In.

How. Weird.

I should probably go into my office and, oh, you know, gather all of my earthly belongings and finish up some last things and give back my keys sometime, eh?

03 Aug 2012

the real live librarian

I’ve been sitting on this news for a few weeks because it just hasn’t felt real. It hasn’t felt possible that after a 2012 that was made of constant ups and downs, after three years of ridiculous schedules and harrowing schoolwork and jumping without a parachute across the country that yes, yes, things would just work out.

After years of work, countless risks, and months of planning for the worst, I just wasn’t prepared to get the best. Yes, I got a job. Yes, it is a librarian job. Yes, I get health insurance and paid time off to do things like, oh, go on a honeymoon, and yes, I get to take public transportation and yes, I get to stay in Boston.

Yes, it is everything I am looking for in a job right now, and more things that I just didn’t think existed in a library job – I saw the posting and my jaw dropped because, perhaps, this job posting had been written specifically for me. I dropped all my evening plans to apply, my jaw dropped again when I was asked to interview, and I crossed every finger and toe for the long three weeks I spent waiting to hear back.

I start on Monday, so I’m sure that this will be like any-other-job and come with its fair share of challenges/annoyances/pressures, but yes, I am excited I am excited I am excited.

I’d like to keep the specifics away from this personal space, but if you are librarian-ly incline, please email me and I’d be happy to dish, in full.

But broadly speaking, I am getting paid to buy books. Children’s and YA books.

This might be as close to a dream job as it can get.

Thank y’all for reading through all of my career and job searching angst… I’m sure there will be more angst along the way, but for now, everything is falling into place. Sometimes, you work hard and get what you want.

Me = Over the Moon.

26 Jul 2012

the true bostonians

This year, I have found myself feeling strangely sentimental about this city where I live. It’s been three years since I arrived, three years to adjust to city living, and although I am not sure I would call myself a fully converted urbanite, the idea of moving away felt sudden, felt not right. We decided fairly quickly in the year that staying in Boston would be one of a few good choices for us, and the one we felt most passionate about. Why leave our friends? Why leave our neighborhood? Why leave our luxury grocery stores and abundant takeout and our little bit of a life that we have forged here?

Since January, I have dreamed up a number of sappy little missives about leaving Boston. An ode to my walking commute, one to my running paths, my library branch, my school. I’ve penciled it into my blog schedule a number of times, but never found the time to do the writing and the photographing it would require.

But now I don’t have to. Friends and readers, I’ve been keeping secrets, and one of them is that after a semester of planning for worst-case scenarios, my best case scenario is coming true: I am staying in Boston. It feels like a big change, to stay, to wrap my mind around my immediate future, but in the end, I will get to keep my friends, my places, and my city.

More details to come, but for now, I must devote myself to hitting “refresh” on Craigslist. Apartment hunting in this city should be avoided at all costs. Everything in my price range and in my neighborhood is… oh wait, there aren’t any apartments in my price range in my neighborhood. Tough, quick decisions are waiting to be made, but come September 1 at least I know I will still be a T ride away from the place and faces I have come to adore.

12 Jul 2012

one last push

I have been visited by the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse, and their names are:

1. Apartment Hunting

A painful dance, balancing what luxuries you’ve grown accustomed to, where you can live to accommodate your commute, what kind of lifestyle you believe you deserve, and oh, what you can afford.

Apartment hunting makes me want to live in a shoebox on the side of the road.

2. Moving

… and then there’s the whole “moving’ aspect of finding a new place. I hate moving. I consider myself to be a resilient person, not afraid to do a little manual labor. But I still shudder to remember how my last move sucked the life out of me. Many exhaustingly minute details, followed by weeks of putting your belongings in boxes and fretting over your consumerism, culminating with a few days of hard labor and then an apartment that is new, but also filled with garbage, reliably dirty, and devoid of food and other life comforts.

3. Taking a Vacation

I am one of those annoying Type A folks who have trouble enjoying time off because the logistics put me on edge. We are going to Michigan for a week and a few days. Going HOME. This should be easy, right? No, no, no. Never. Who will go where and who will we see and who will see who and who will drive where and as;lkejr;oij234arsdaklsf.

I just want to play Mario Party and drink Diet Coke and sleep until noon, okay?

4. Planning a Wedding

May I please be married in a shoebox on the side of the road?

So bear with me as I try to figure out my life from now until September 1st, after which I will have finished 1, 2, 3 and made progress on 4.

Life after grad school? Not particularly glamorous.

P.S. I pretty much wrote this post already, 2 years ago. I even tried to give it the same subject. My life.


03 Jul 2012

notes from the job hunt, vol. 3

It is July. I have applied for 43 jobs. Since March, have been considered for 10 positions.

I am no longer being considered for 4 positions. Two decided on other candidates and one had last minute budget challenges and was not able to fill the position at all.

I am still in the running for 4 positions: two I would love to accept, two would require some tough decisions.


Time is running out for optimal decision-making.

September 1 is the day I am kicked out of my apartment. It would be lovely to either have a job sometime before this date, or to know for sure about any pending jobs so I can choose an abode appropriately.

It is also the day my health insurance expires… so… there’s that.

I am still feeling hopeful.

I’m applying for fewer and fewer jobs – 20 in May, only 11 in June, and only two currently on my “to apply for” docket. This is natural, because as time ticks by, my geographic range shrinks significantly. But there are still jobs coming up, jobs that I feel qualified for. And maybe the early fall is a good time to find a library job in the Boston area – the new grads have already found jobs or got the heck out of town?

There is the blind panic, yes, but I still have options. I still, miraculously, have two jobs. I have supportive friends and family and professional relationships. The jobs I am applying for, I think, would be challenging and great for starting my career. I am learning a lot about myself from this process.

I am so happy to watch all of my friends get all sorts of exciting jobs all over the place.

My fellow grad school colleagues are an exceedingly fun, bright, talented group of people and they are, one by one, landing really exciting jobs. I now have librarian & literature friends working all over Massachusetts – Newburyport, Worcester, Manchester-by-the-Sea, Westfield, Boston, Plymouth – and in Missouri, Louisiana, Michigan, New York, Florida and elsewhere. Every time I get together with friends, someone else in the group has something new to celebrate.

I am glad that I have spent the last three years hanging out with them, and their successes give me hope.


19 Jun 2012

trendy footwear

In March, I got a job with a stricter dress code than I’ve been required to adhere to lately.

And by that, I mean I can’t wear flip-flops.

For a few months, my finances didn’t allow me to make any purchases above and beyond my daily coffee regimen, so I suffered through an On-Your-Feet job with boots (sweaty above 60 degrees), sneakers (not fashion-forward), or three-year-old Payless flats (I never knew what arch support was until my feet almost broke in half).

Finally, after procuring a bit of graduation money, I made a single splurge:

I am the last person on the planet to buy a pair and rave about them. They are a bit goofy looking, but A) no more goofy than the sneakers and skinny jeans I was sporting before and B) when you are the last person to buy a pair, nobody notices.

They are probably the next best thing to my Havaianas, which is exactly what I was hoping for. I think I may try wearing them to my next job interview?

P.S. Two weeks in, they already smell like feet. Any cleaning tips, Everyone Else Who Has Had TOMS For Years, so I can continue to throw them in my bag on-the-go without stinking up all of my belongings?

P.P.S. Please note: this is your reward for finishing two Master’s Degrees. Stinky shoes.

13 Jun 2012

see ya at ChLA

One of the best things about living in Boston? You don’t have to travel to cool events – cool events come to you. I’ve been to two Boston Globe-Horn Book Award ceremonies, a BG-HB One Day Childrens’ Literature Colloquium, an ALA Midwinter Conference, a Simmons Children’s Literature Symposium, tons of author events at libraries and bookstores… some non-book things, too, but oh, who can remember those…

This week is the Children’s Literature Association’s Annual Conference. Three days of children’s lit academia – presentations and papers from some of my dearest classmates and friends, as well as from critics I’ve quoted so many times in papers, they have become bona fide celebrities in my mind.

I am not only attending, but volunteering! I will be absorbing some last drops of children’s literature study, hanging out with friends, and snapping photos, all from the comfort of my own school – I’ll be the lady with the camera!

06 Jun 2012

notes from the job hunt, vol 2

Ladies and gentlemen in seek of library jobs?

Heed my advice:

Get Thee a Smartphone.

First, the surface benefits. A Fancy Internet Phone is fun and shiny, yes, but when you are deep in the job search, having ready access to email can be handy, especially if you are working part-time jobs that do not afford you computer access (see: retail). You can send and reply to emails, have your calendar at the ready to schedule an interview, and even search for jobs on the go. And when you are out on a job interview, having a nice phone can be a comfort as you drive unfamiliar roads or wait impatiently for a  bus to arrive along a foreign route – Google Maps, NextBus, and simple access to the Internet to look up a phone number to call in case you are late can be a great comfort. Interviews are stressful enough without that added element of COMPLETE PANIC. Smartphones can smooth out the process a bit.

But for future librarians – those looking for jobs with kids and teens in particular – let me tell you that so many job postings ask for familiarity with web services and devices and apps, ask for technological proficiency (even passion!) across platforms. During my first interview I was asked, point blank, what kinds of apps I use. I do not have a smartphone, and use my iPad for Goodreads, Netflix, and Bejeweled. I was basically stumped. I was better prepared for my all-day interview last week for a different position – out of many conversations held over the course of the day, a vast majority revolved around the library’s role in a digital future, how we can help students and teens and children best access the information available at their fingertips, and I was asked, point blank, what kind of smartphone I use.

This is making me uneasy because although I consider myself to be a very tech-savvy person, I have been somewhat indignant about getting a smartphone. I do not have one. I sometimes want one and sometimes do not. It’s primarily a financial decision – I have never paid more than 50 dollars a month for my phone service, and during this time in my life where I have to save up money to go to the dentist, it seems irresponsible to double my expenses for a shiny new toy. Plus, now that everyone has one, I hear all about the woes of smartphone ownership – the lost phones, the dropped phones, the slow phones, the phones with buggy software. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve been lost in a city and asked a companion to help navigate us back to safety, only to hear that “Well, my phone doesn’t like to do that” or “It’s too slow to be of any help.” That just seems like throwing money away.

Yes, I am stingy, but I am also wary about adding yet another device to my life. On the whole, I want to spend less time looking at screens, not more. I am addicted to the Internet already – do I need to carry my drugs around in my pocket at all times?

But here I am, in a profession where information and information access is digitizing, where mobile access is the future, where keeping up with technology is paramount. Libraries that are hiring right now are trying to stay on top of the game – and you know what is easier than training your more “experienced” staff members to use Twitter or provide chat reference or develop apps? Hiring some young, technologically-hip blood. This is most definitely not a bad thing for libraries – in fact, I think it will become a very VERY important thing. However, it’s a bit frustrating to be sitting in interviews in which 3 years of Master’s work is ignored and instead I am asked about how I use my cell phone. Your MLS program probably isn’t going to give you what you need in terms of technology. I loved my Tech class, but it’s not enough to know how a router works, to know a few html tags, to be able to tinker around in an ILS. If you plan on working in a public service department of any library – public, private, children’s, academic, etc – you need to be comfortable with the kind of technology your public is using – maybe you need to be MORE comfortable than they are, and MORE comfortable than your potential coworkers. You, as a new hire, are a de facto ambassador for the future of libraries, the future of information access. Whether you are indignant about it or not.

If you’re already job hunting, do your research, learn about what libraries are doing cool things with iPhones and such, and don’t get caught off guard. If you are a new MLS students, do yourself a favor and add the expense of a smartphone into your loan budget from the get-go. Use it. Master it. Hopefully in two years when you finish, you’ll be ahead of the game.