Q: I’m 35, work at a daycare and feeling burned out. I am in the planning stage of finding a graduate school to obtain a MLIS degree. My question is, what would transferable skills look like for a person leaving a daycare environment to work in a library? I’m not very sure of the skills I acquired in the daycare setting would be acceptable.
CNW: The specific skills that might transfer to a library setting will depend upon the type of library you want to work in. For example, your background working with young children would make you a good candidate for a public library job doing children’s programming, a school librarian, or even as a liaison to libraries and schools in the publishing world. If you are truly feeling burned out, however, a library job involving children may not feel like enough of a career change.
Since you don’t say what area of librarianship you are specifically targeting, I suggest that you use your time in graduate school to explore your options. You may find that being a law librarian, to pick an example, is appealing because it is so different from the work you have been doing. In the Suggested Reading section below you’ll find a link to descriptions of different types of libraries. Look for opportunities to intern, volunteer or shadow people in different types of libraries. Tap into local professional librarian networks and request informational interviews. This will give you a sense of the kind of library work that would most appeal to you. It will also give you practical experience that you can list on a resume when you enter the job market with your freshly-minted MLIS degree.
Speaking as a mother with children in daycare, I’m convinced that my kids’ teachers must have advanced degrees in crisis management, communications and flexibility. When you are ready to begin interviewing, it will help you to think of specific instances where you had to demonstrate those skills (or other skills) and be prepared to speak about them. You will, of course, want to tailor your examples to the specific opportunity you’re applying for.
Career Change Q&A with Susanne Markgren, 3/14/2012
Career Change Q&A with Tiffany Allen, 12/15/2011
American Library Association, Types of Libraries.