…or is my career managing me? I’ve been pondering that question since I attended a seminar run by CLSIG last week, on “Managing Your Career and Widening Your Horizons”. I won’t detail the entire seminar here – if you’re interested, there’s a good write-up on Tina Reynolds’ blog, and I’ve written a review of the event for the next CLSIG newsletter. I just wanted to throw out a couple of ideas that have been pinging around my head since last week, and see if anyone else had any thoughts on it.
The first speaker at the seminar, Sue Edgar, was emphatic about the need to manage your career, rather than let yourself be carried along by events. The second speaker, Sue Westcott, also stressed the need to understand yourself, your goals and your strengths and weaknesses in order to make good decisions about your career. Both speakers agreed that while a strict, step-by-step strategy for your career wasn’t really practical or necessary, it was important to have an idea of the kind of direction you’d like your career to go in.
I agree that this is a good idea. However, it’s not something I’ve ever done, and if I’m honest I wouldn’t really know where to start. I’m pretty happy with how my career has gone so far, but I’d be lying if I said I’d planned any step of it. I’ve got to this point by just taking the first opportunities that came along and hoping for the best.
Luckily, that has all worked out very well so far. I’ve had some great opportunities along the way, both within and outside of my jobs, and I’m currently in a job that I love. What worries me is where I go next. I think there’s been a certain amount of luck involved with my career path to date: I’ve been fortunate in being offered the jobs I have and I’ve been very fortunate with the managers and co-workers I’ve had since starting working in libraries. But I know that I can’t rely on being lucky forever, and particularly as I start looking for more senior positions, I’m going to have to put a bit more thought and planning into my career moves. The problem is, I don’t really know what I want to do ultimately. I don’t even really know what sector I’d prefer to work in – I’ve got a few ideas, but I don’t really have much experience in any sector other than legal.
The seminar last week was really useful just for getting me to begin thinking about this. I don’t really have any answers yet, but I am going to take the advice of both Sues and start trying to work out what makes me tick, what excites me about my work, and how I could work this into some kind of vague career plan. I’d be interested to hear if any of you responsible adults out there have already done this. Does anyone actually have a career plan? Or are we all just muddling along together?