Leaning against MLIS.

I’ve had some time to think this over.  Should I think it over some more?  I don’t know.  When is the decision final enough — when I’ve compared pay scales?  When I’ve decided that there are better routes to get to the same point?

I’m leaning against going back for the Master’s in Library Science.  What I need is just a job and career which will allow me to live comfortably, while financing my Art.  I would have been aiming for Digital Archives, but it doesn’t really seem that this position pays enough in the short term to offset the cost of additional education.  I’m at the point of thinking that, like a co-worker was telling me, the program I was in was really expensive for what I’d get.

Plus, being a Digital Archivist…isn’t something I appear to need the degree I was looking at, to do.  It might be better to look outside of library studies to get the education I’d need, there — if I decide I still want to do it, years down the line.  What I’ve found at this point is that I don’t want to remain in a physical, public library as a Librarian.  I’d rather work in the tech industry — and if that’s the case, I have way more options than what I was doing.

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Reconsidering MLIS.

Even though I think I’d be better off reading some borrowed books…I’ll write, a bit.

I’ve been puzzling over what to do as regards a career path, in recent days.  Those who have been with me from before this blog’s renaming will probably remember that finding a career path was the initial point of this blog.

Although I’m coming to appreciate the Library more and more (as I actually read the books I check out, rather than let them sit on the table and gather dust), I’m really not certain that I want to be employed by them, long term.  Particularly, dealing with disturbed or hostile patrons (plus sexual harassment) are the major drawbacks.

I’ve sent out an email to numerous people I have worked for, and am hoping for a response from them.  One person has gotten back to me already…

If I really wanted to, I could probably re-enter training to become a Librarian as of Fall 2016, cleanly.  The question remains, is that something I really want to do?  But I have a limited number of years before me in which my parents will remain alive and able to care for me.  Librarianship is…it’s something I’m familiar with.  I’ve been at my current post for the last five years, and I don’t tire of finding new titles to read.  It would also be nice to be able to help patrons find what they need, in a manner in which I can’t, now.

What I really want to do is to be an author and/or illustrator; however, neither of those paths are financially secure.  Becoming either a part-time or full-time Librarian would keep me around books and other sources of information, and would pay me enough to stay off the street, at least!  In my free time, I will be able to read (though to what extent this is part of the job in a Public Library, I’m not sure), and either work on my writing, and/or my art.

I have two paths before me which I can go down, if I want to be hired in some way by either the Library or the Publishing industry:

  1. Reapply for the Master’s program this Fall, for Fall 2016.  (I will have to resubmit transcripts.)
  2. Complete my Art AA in Spring 2016.
  3. Go back to iSchool in Fall 2016.
  4. Apply for a part-time Library Assistant position.
  5. Complete my iSchool training in three years, by Fall 2019.
  6. Begin paying off my loans.
  7. After 10 years, my remaining loan balance (for my Master’s training) should be forgiven — if I continue on in the Public Library.

The benefit to this path is that it’s clear, regimented, and secure:  I know what I will have to do in order to be successful.  I’d have to pass my classes (which include a lot of group work), plan my classes out, and submit a complete ePortfolio in Fall 2019.  I’d also need to maintain a working connection to the school.

The other path is here:

  1. While I am hired as a Library Student Assistant and/or Library Assistant, read and learn about different Publishing Houses and authors.
  2. Apply for a Library Assistant position.
  3. When I have enough accumulated knowledge about books, presses, and authors, try for an internship in a Publishing House.
  4. If I like that and am accepted, I could go on to become an Editor at a Publishing House (eventually).

The benefit to this path is that it is not a public service position.  The main drawback to it is that I would have to tell people information that they probably would not want to hear, on a regular basis.  I’m sure there will be some gems who would like feedback, but I can’t bet on that happening, all the time.

So… to keep my options open, what I can do is this:

  1. Reapply for iSchool this Fall.
  2. Continue on in my Art classes so that I graduate with the Art AA in Spring 2016.
  3. Read books out of the Library which interest me.
  4. Review how to navigate the iSchool, online, and finish reading what I didn’t complete, in Fall 2012.
  5. If I still want to, go back to iSchool in Fall 2016.
  6. Apply for a part-time Library Assistant position.
  7. Complete all courses, including the ePortfolio, by Fall 2019.
  8. I’m now free to become a Librarian (or an Editor, if I wish), and can end my stint in higher education, here.
  9. By Fall 2029, the remaining balance of my Masters’ loans (which will be the majority of my debt) should be forgiven.

This will only work insofar as public libraries continue to remain in existence.  We already have to deal with competition from the Internet, but really, the two realms are very different.  One is in-person, community-based and community-organized.  The other is finding whatever information anyone has decided to post, online.

Although becoming a Librarian wouldn’t be my top choice of jobs to take…it’s the most apparent one, and the career path on which I’ve already started.  The window to complete all my units and graduate in seven years, total, is almost up.  If I take over seven years (that is, if I don’t graduate by Fall 2019), I’ll just have to retake the two or three classes I took in my first semester.  Kind of a pain, but at least there is that leeway built into things.

Hmm. I need to work on looking at what types of jobs are out there…

I hope you’ll forgive me if I put the scriptwriting-class-drama down for a moment and attempt not to speak of it.  The short of it is that I’ve withdrawn.

What comes next?  The good point, which I’d forgotten until just now, is that I’ve got Friday and Saturday off for Independence Day.  This means that I probably won’t feel so bad for not having done much today other than clean my bathroom.

Basically, out here, the temperature was around 90° F today.  Plus, I don’t live alone, and M’s idea of trying to cool down the house was to open the windows — even though at one point, when I checked, it was 6° warmer outside than inside.  (The difference was much more drastic earlier, but I can’t remember the numbers.)  In addition, it got so hot in the computer room that I turned off the computer to avoid damage.

This means that although I could have been awake and making art today (I woke to the alarm I’d forgotten to shut off last night, then reawakened after my class would have been over), I was mostly trying to stay still and in the shade, with M’s blessing.  The good part about this is that I cleaned my room yesterday (including the top of the bookcase), so at least my surroundings were nice.  I had new sheets to sweat in, and everything.

There are also some interpersonal conflicts happening, and one of my family members is relocating.  M says that this isn’t the reason she’s been upset, but I don’t believe this is a time to be taking her words on face value.

Beyond this — I did meet with a counselor yesterday.  Apparently, so far as things go, withdrawing from this semester will not affect my financial aid — however, starting in Fall 2015, I’ll have to watch out to avoid withdrawing.  If I Withdraw from more than half of my attempted units or get below a 2.0 GPA for more than half of my units for two consecutive semesters (and these things may interact with each other), my financial aid will be rescinded.

So it really is a good thing that I’m not going to have to worry about needing to be in classes past Spring 2016.  I probably will want to, particularly where Figure Drawing:  Special Projects or Figure Drawing:  Anatomy and/or Artist as Citizen and/or Beginning Gallery Management and/or Islamic Art History come in, but it’s optional.  I know that certainly after Fall 2016 I will want to be either honing my digital skills (though I’ve already been introduced to basic Illustrator and Photoshop — I’d be looking at InDesign I, Photoshop II, or Illustrator I), or looking for a new job and/or internship.  In the meantime it will be good to nurture the art and make as much money at my current job as is feasible.

Speaking of which — I’m thinking of doing this without pulling in special help.  When I got my first job (the one I’m in now) I was really fairly afraid of people.  (I was a scared young volunteer.)  But that was about 5 years ago, and I’ve gotten better with both confidence and interpersonal communication.  Still, though — you know, it’s my first job, and my supervisor knows that for a lot of us, it will be our first job.

I’m fairly certain that I don’t want to continue on in the library for the rest of my life.  Even being a Clerk…how is that better than working the cash register at someplace like a local art store?  As a Clerk, I’d still probably have to be on circulation for three or four hours every day, and I worry enough about my two hours as it is.  (I have noted, though, that my anticipation of having to be on desk is worse than actually being on desk.)  Probably the only benefit to being a Clerk instead of a Cashier is that there’s less money to steal…

Then there’s the fact that my current supervisor knows that I still have some aversion to people, and so may not recommend me for a front-line position.  Which may really be good, in the long run.  It just means, though, that I’ll need to look for a position which is not a public service position.  The issue with this (which probably also applies to a lot of younger job seekers as well) is that non-service positions seem more or less invisible.

Hmm.  Maybe I do want to take one or two of those positions with the help of the college — working for a nonprofit org. as an artist, and/or working in a gallery.  If I hang in there with Modern Art History, I should be pretty well prepped to take the Gallery position, after getting my AA.

Maybe I should enlist the help of the State, too (beyond EDD), if I can’t find a good job within a few months after the end of the Gallery and/or nonprofit classes.  I’m told that having stayed in this position for as long as I have is counted as a success, and so I’d be taken back, even though I’ve found I don’t want to settle into this field.

The thing about this is just that I hate to act like I have a disability, even though that is part of my makeup.  (Maybe it wouldn’t have been if I hadn’t been subject to so much peer abuse, but that’s…water under the bridge.)  Last time…I was placed with a counselor who would stay with me until I got a job.  This actually really helped.  Of course, I was also seeking a job at the height of the Recession, so people were retiring everywhere and at one time there were something like 400 applicants (that’s a low estimate — it may have been something like 600 applied and 400 showed up for the test) for four open positions at a nearby library.

Anyhow — it’s late, and my mind is showing it.

Maybe getting the State’s help isn’t a bad idea…but I just shouldn’t depend on them as heavily this time, given that the last time was an introductory course in How to Get a Job.  This time, I’ll be in How to Get a Job II.  😉  (okay, getting loopy — good night!)

One week into Summer vacation and I wonder what I’m doing with my life…

It’s that time again.

You know, that time when you go “WTH am I doing?”  One week into vacation and, well, at least all the reading for last semester is done (I finished the Art History readings earlier tonight), but it’s not quite the same without the community, and without assignments.

Fortunately — or not — I have to go to work tomorrow.  I have come to the recent realization, though, that my place of employment attracts a lot of Arts and Humanities people who really don’t want to be working there.  At this point, two of them — both in superior positions — have gone off on me (this is not including the other guy who shared my job title who was extremely stressed out and also mean).

I’m thinking that I don’t want to follow their example.

Given that.  I have only one more year to go before I will have completed an Art AA and it will likely be time to move on from this job.  I think I’m at the top of my pay scale for this position, and to be frank, the only reasons to stay in this system (where everyone is chronically undercompensated) is that it’s a steady paycheck and I get to be around sources of information — primarily books.  And, oh, right — I’m already here.  And as my counselor is fond of saying, “the devil you know is better than the devil you don’t know.”

I also have restarted reading You Majored in What?  Though, to be fair…I had to reread the first two chapters because I think the last time I used this workbook was a year or two ago.  This book in itself just blows the field wide open, and with that type of a vista it both gives hope that there is another job out there which is just as good as this one, if not better for me, but there’s also a dash of fear in there too.  It means that I’ll have to interview and scour ads and meet new people, and I don’t know where my skills will take me, and I don’t even know if the new job will be a good fit until I take it, meaning there’s probably going to be a period of instability which I’d expect to be a few months long, at minimum.

There…are two classes I can take after graduating with the AA.  One of them is Beginning Art Gallery Management.  The other is Artist as Citizen.  Both of these classes are basically internships, and Artist as Citizen can lead to a position in a nonprofit.  I’m thinking that if anyone asks me why I stayed at the library so long even after I found out that it didn’t align with my career goals…I’ll just say it was because of the flexible hours and having an excellent supervisor, because that’s essentially exactly what it is.  If either of those things had not been in place, I would have left a long time ago — probably after dropping out of the Library Science Master’s program.

With this in mind, there are a couple of things that will make this way easier on me.

  1. Getting my license (finally)…parents have set a deadline for me to drive by the end of the year, but I still need to renew my Learner’s Permit, and I have heard nothing from them on this since January or February.  Being able to drive (or, [!] having my own car) would really open up my employment options.
  2. Taking internships (though to be frank, this will probably be the next step after Art Gallery Management and/or Artist as Citizen).

The latter will be helped by my going back over the materials I used in order to gain a job the first time around (2009/2010).  My job duties…have considerably narrowed over time, though I’m not sure if this is because I decided not to become a Librarian (and so didn’t need the training), or if it’s just a staff turnover/evolution thing.

One of the things which I know does stress me, though, is having to deal with a continuous line of people I don’t know, some of whom attempt to insert themselves into my life.  Most of them are fine, good even; it’s the people who don’t listen when I say I don’t want to talk to them anymore who are the problems; the ones who attempt to force me to give them what they want, even though they’re not entitled to it and I refuse to give it to them…who then proceed to insult me in the hopes that that tack will work where bribery hasn’t.  (Specific incidence, anyone?)

What I can say here is that at least now I know I’m on the autism spectrum and that this is why dealing with people stresses me — because I don’t understand people in the same way others do.  So when some guy says to me “did you cut your hair again” every single time I see his face, that doesn’t necessarily mean he is telling me I shouldn’t cut my hair because he doesn’t like it when I do that and his desires override my comfort; it may mean that he’s attempting some form of human contact and believes that centering the conversation on my hair (because he has no information about who I am other than what he can see, and doesn’t know that my hair is a sensitive topic) is a good idea.

Given that, at least I know that I’m not after a customer service position, at least not so if I can help it.  I also know that I don’t want to be a secretary, because of the same issue, plus the sexual harassment issue.  The major problem is that basically, outside of alphanumeric organization and detail work, customer service is the majority of my job at the library.  The reason I’m getting out of the library is that I don’t want to take on even more customer service, in addition to a dead-end position.  I know that if I want to work at freelancing, I’ll need a steady job, but still — it doesn’t have to be that steady job.

But I have a year to think on this and come up with a good “out” for myself.  It just means work, and it probably means I should start now, with updating my resume, searching job boards, looking out for opportunities for informational interviews, getting the newest version of What Color is Your Parachute? etc.

Just tired. And sick, and dealing with a load of work…

I am so tired.  Even though I haven’t been awake all that much, today.

I started screwing around with Zendoodles because I was trying to stay awake and my Art History homework was encouraging me to sleep.  😛  Reintroduction to a favored medium, right?  I’m thinking that I will end my stint with community college after the Art certificate is finished.  I’m not sure, though.  It could be the drowsiness and overwork talking.

I do have a little bit of a plan for Summer and Fall semesters.  I think it’ll turn out well — in this case I will likely only have a couple more classes to go before I can apply for certification.  If I can keep up with reading and writing, I should be fairly well equipped to deal with getting a job somewhere as a writer.  If I keep drawing, I might be able to push out a ‘zine in comic format — and I know a place that will sell them for me — but I’m not doing this to make money, primarily; it’s more of a getting-myself-out-there thing, and a cultural-enrichment (pay-it-forward-type) thing.

The biggest enrichment I think the Art training has given me is the knowledge that the same information can be expressed in many different forms.  But I’m not quite aiming to be an animator or musician or filmmaker.  The thing is, though? that I can use the Art to bridge off into Writing.  It can be my warm-up; there are invariably things that pop up in the process of creating an image that are good fodder for exploration in the written word.

And, right — the other big enrichment is that I’ve found that I don’t have to be afraid to show who I am and voice my opinion when I’m around the right people.

In the money-making sense, as regards jobs, I’d been aiming next for clerical specialist — which I can do within the Library system (I’m told that I almost fulfill all the requirements already).  Hopefully that will help with Clerk jobs outside the library, as well — I’ve been eyeing not-for-profits, in particular, as a type of group I might mesh well with.  I can see that maybe it would be a good idea to brush up on Excel and Access skills, though, as well as Basic Math.

Actually, I should take a look at job descriptions and functions before I start investing in study.

I think I’ll either go fall asleep now or work on more Zendoodles…I think I sound like I’m about to pass out…that’s about how I feel.  I’m just trying not to…

’cause I’m happy

Hello!  😀

I’m feeling a lot better about my career/life path, now that I have some additional information.

The most striking thing that I realized, today, was how much more easily I am able to get out of bed when I have the art practice (and blogging) to look forward to.  I’ve been getting about 6-8 hours of sleep a night, as versus before, which was so dysfunctional that I hesitate to admit to it online.  😉  It hasn’t been easy — and I have been napping in the daytime — but I don’t feel like I’m wasting so much of my life, anymore.

I went to work today for the 8-hour shift that I’ve switched into.  What I can say about working all day as versus working 3-5 hours at a stretch over multiple days is that…it’s really nice to be able to have four days off in a row, where I can go to school and not stress about work.  I could easily draw the amount of pay I’m getting now, for example, by working two full-day shifts…though of course that would have to be at a time when my employer can accommodate me!

I picked up some books on career from the library today which focus on using Writing as a skill to make a living, and getting a job after having majored in a branch of English.  My other class on communication is really validating now that I know that it ties into my art, my writing, and some of the identity issues I’ve had over the course of my life.  In particular, the concept that I’ve gained over time — that no matter what I do, other people will still project their own meanings and messages onto me — is somewhat freeing, because then I don’t have to try to get people to recognize me “as me.”  Because they will never see me as I see myself.  That means that, within a certain range of safety, I can do whatever I want and not worry about what other people are seeing.  This is the insight I’ve been leading up to for a while.

This is nice on the gender front, specifically, knowing that I am gender-variant, but in such an everyday manner that unless and until I say something, others don’t suspect my history and inner experience.  And that is such a powerful thing to know — that I will have to say something if I want to be seen.  And that, just wow — that I can present in a feminine manner and interact in a feminine way and it’s OK!  And when I’m interacting with males, it doesn’t all have to circle around reproduction.

How long did it take me to get to that point?

Well, I’m feeling really good today, and I’m thinking and hoping it’s in a healthy way.  And I’m thinking that it’s likely due to my classes and not being locked into a career path, and finding a potential path in which I could excel (Technical Writing).  Also, I now have two first places to look for meaningful work, and I have two classes within the Art program that I could take which would give me work experience.  If I wanted to pursue a Master’s, I’ve found a program.  I could work at an QUILTBAG nonprofit, but I could also do more.  If I learned to communicate visually, through text and also through speech (and possibly also nonverbally), I’d be in a really strong position.

And I’ve been told that if I do get a job which pays well and which I’m happy in, I don’t have to keep going to Community College.  I asked about this the other night and was told, basically, that I don’t have to continue until I do get the Business certificate.  I could learn on the job.

That in itself — prioritizing work and school — helped so much.  Now I know that I don’t have to spend the next two years in a dance between part-time work and part-time college courses.  Plus, I don’t have to stay in my present job permanently.  It’s a stepping-stone job, not one I’d stay in forever.  And if I were a Technical Writer, I wouldn’t have to deal with many people I didn’t know, all the time.  Also, I have a good reason to stay in Art.

Art practice is in some way healing for me.  It’s challenging, and it can be scary, but my professor is very good at easing the fears of judgment and failure.  Neither have I had to deal so much with the scariness around the question of where my creativity is coming from, because I’m understanding it in the moment as play or as a visual representation of mathematical/geometric thought, or as constructing something nonobjectively, or as training myself to see more attentively, or as a visual way of trying to solve a problem.  It’s working out to be really awesome.

And yes, now I want to take Watercolor.  😛

The pineapple drawing I mentioned in comment to the last post is dry now; I’ll see if I can transfer it over for you.

talked to teacher about career path; feeling much better.

I probably should have written something about this right when I got home, but I think I only really got about 5 hours of sleep last night, and the bed was inviting.

I spoke with my Drawing teacher today, who told me that all kinds of organizations need good writers, for both internal and external communications.  Plus, having a degree in Creative Writing speaks to creativity and the ability to persuade.  The point to be stressed, is to let people know you have skills; and to be able to communicate the benefits they’ll gain if they hire you.  Which means, in effect, it’s a really good thing that I’m in this Communications class.  Which, you know, I’m not really hating as much as I thought I would.

It sounds like, basically, Art is one of these things like Creative Writing, where it’s hard to make a living doing solely and exactly that.  She said teaching positions were not common.

At this point, she very much encouraged me in my idea of using skills gained in a Business certificate to help out a nonprofit.  Plus, she agreed with my counselor, who said that the next step was to investigate places where I might be hired and find out their staffing levels, what positions they have, etc.  I also let her know that I’d like to work in some way on the back end of a nonprofit, like with bookkeeping or helping with grant writing, and I wouldn’t want to be the person who greets everyone as they come in the door (as I have to do at my present job).

There is also a class which she encouraged me to take next semester, about using art skills to help out a nonprofit.  This is not just because I’d expressed interest in doing so (or did I?), but because the teacher of that class is really well-connected among a lot of local nonprofits, and so it would be a good place to network.  In addition, not only should I look at local nonprofits within my general region, but looking at larger cities and smaller communities would be of use as well.

I feel like I should have taken more notes, but the takeaway is that if one only develops Art skills, it’s going to be difficult to make a living.  I do have other skills as evinced by my Creative Writing BA and my work in the Business track at my current college; and I shouldn’t lock myself in to depending on Art.  She also encouraged me to volunteer and see if I liked the work, as it would be a way to become seen and known by the people who run the nonprofit; which could eventually lead to a paying job, and ongoing development which would enable me to use more and more of my skills within that setting.  I’d also be able to see if I even liked the work, and if I didn’t, I could move on to another interest.

She also said that I came off as very confident (really? must be age) and that it sounded like I knew what I was interested in — particularly, helping out people in minority gender communities.  Which…was surprising, because to me it feels very much more like I have a lot of varied interests and varied skills…so I have a hard time focusing in and choosing a few to pursue initially.  I mean, I’d even mentioned the possibility of becoming a Professor of Eastern Philosophy, which indicated that I was interested in teaching, which if extended meant that I could help with education around gender issues.

I think it’s likely that my interests, abstracted, create a kind of constellation of my views and values and interests, and the goal is to integrate as many of these into my working life as I can.  Or, this is the vision my awesomely-creative teacher saw in what I told her.  After I spoke with her, she said that I could talk to her again later if I wanted or needed to.

I’m very glad I reached out to her.  I think it was qualitatively different than what would have happened if I’d gone to see a career counselor after I got out of class, which I was kind of on the fence about.  I will try and do so next time I get to school…but I think my choice of a source for help was right on, this time.