1 November 2012

Thing 23: What next?

Wow I've made it! The final Thing! Enough of being giddy, I need to get on with it...

Gaps in my Skills:

  • Management experience: see my Thing 21 about this. I have no real idea how to get any additional experience - I have done some managing staff but the bit I need is the real serious stuff: appraisals and the like - the sort of thing you can't get outside a real management role. Yet every manager must have started somewhere so I live in hope!
  • Cataloguing skills: I'm working on this one! I'm doing cataloguing so technically I am getting experience but I definitely need to get some foundation of knowledge about what I'm doing!
  • Welsh: always important for any job in Wales. I have just re-started learning Welsh, mostly motivated by my children going to a Welsh school, and this would also be useful at work. The uni is trying to strengthen its Welsh language provision so it is quite a hot topic right now.
  • Social Research skills: I'd like to work up to doing some evidence based library research one day. For this, I need social research methods - a total blank in my current knowledge but something I can read on, maybe even find a MOOC... No time at the moment but perhaps something for next year.
We do have an appraisal process once a year where this kind of thing gets logged and I do have some of the above down for the current year so hopefully will make some progress. 

Reflecting on the programme:

Short answer: it's been good!
The best things for me have been...
  • Starting this blog: I will try to keep it going now it's already 6 months old!
  • Connecting with people: I've really enjoyed the cross-commenting on blogs & having a common purpose shared by so many at (roughly) the same time. It has encouraged me to comment more on blog posts generally.
  • I've tried some new tools and revisited ones I've been using already - it's also reinforced my conviction that some of the tools ARE worth persevering with (Prezi - I'm going to get to you one day soon!)
  • The whole series of Things is very useful in terms of the training we do for researchers - many of the tools we have used crop up in our teaching too.
I don't have any negatives really. Perhaps some of the Things were not so relevant to me right now - I'm mid career, not seeking to change job any time soon, for example. It's always good to refresh one's thoughts on these things but I preferred the Things that pushed me in more relevant directions. 

Thing 22: Volunteering

I have been reading around this Thing for a while before I actually tried to write anything. I find myself sitting on a fence: I think the idea of volunteering for experience is a good one but it excludes those who can't manage to sustain themselves financially while they do it and that is a very bad thing. I hate the idea of cutting back on paid librarians to staff libraries with volunteers but if that is the only option on the table, isn't it better than nothing? When do you accept defeat and seek damage limitation? No easy answers to these questions for me.

I have only done a little volunteering in recent years (I did a lot as an archaeologist back in the 90s!) - at the moment I do a few bits of work for our local community woodlands society. I do that because I like the woods and want to contribute something to the local community, however small. For me, the important thing with any volunteering is to be realistic about what I can manage and only offer to do things that I can fit into my limited spare time. I find it easiest to do web-based stuff - not attending meetings or events so much unless the kids can come along too.

Thing 21: Promoting yourself in job applications and at interview

It may be taking a while but I'm getting there...Thing 21!

I'm not super-motivated with this, I must admit, as I have no intention of looking for another job any time soon but of course one can never feel totally sure that a terrible axe may fall on one's current job in the current climate.

I have been keeping an Evernote note on my job achievements / things I've done for a while now and I had a recurring to-do task to update it fortnightly. It only took a minute so not particularly onerous. (A recent changeover from Remember the Milk to Wunderlist has meant this stopped - now reminder back in place!)

I think getting my current job was the greatest success of my career as I was up against incredibly tough competition and didn't rate my chances! I did use a lot of the advice about job applications - I stuck right to the criteria and showed how I met it all - plus I used the lessons from a day course on Presentations to create something I was happy to present and so did it with a bit more confidence than usual. I also wanted it really really badly so I did a huge amount of preparation.

For me, the one thing I always lack - and I think this would be an issue if I went for another job one day - is management experience. I did manage staff way back in about 1998 & 2001 but not for long - maybe a year at most. I never did appraisals or anything like that, it was just in terms of managing their workload and delegating tasks to them. This experience is not something I can see myself getting in my current role and it always seems impossible to progress to a management role without it (chicken / egg scenario). Therefore it feels like a particular hurdle I will never get past :o(