Low-down science library paraprofessional blues
January 15, 2012 7:45 PM Subscribe
Does my experience as a non-librarian employee in a medical library qualify me for any other type of work beyond librarianship?
posted by anonymous to Work & Money (4 answers total) 4 users marked this as a favorite
I work as a paraprofessional in a medical library. I am deeply ambivalent about becoming a librarian--I think it would be a suitable career for me, but I'm not sure the return on the MLIS investment plus whatever hoops I'd have to jump through to find a job (e.g. moving/years as a degreed paraprofessional) would be worth it.
That said, this is the first time in my adult life that I've ever had full benefits, and the first time I've ever reliably made $25,000/year (my nominal wages have been higher than this in the past but always as a temp, 1099 or seasonal employee). I also love my day-to-day duties, and feel deep satisfaction being able to help our patrons navigate the library's resources, many of which are online and opaque even to their intended audience.
But, but. I moved to a large, fairly expensive city to take this job, and financially I'm not really doing more than treading water. Only ~3% of my gross income is going to my 403(b) and I'm only making nominal (income-based) payments on my substantial student loans. I live frugally but I'm aware that sooner or later this job probably won't be enough--I don't think there's any possibility that I will be promoted or even given a raise beyond 20¢/year cost-of-living adjustments. I don't have an emergency fund, my student loans aren't getting smaller, and I'm barely saving for retirement, two roommate living situations are harder to find as I get older, I need some expensive dental work, etc.
My immediate concern is that this job is essentially going to be another dead spot on my resume if I don't become a librarian, and, worse, I'm not learning any skills or accruing any experience that could help me into a career.
A couple of other points:
1. I have a bachelors degree in a science, but not one that qualifies me for anything in particular.
2. I'm in my mid-thirties.
3. I don't have any idea what I would like to do/what my ideal job would be, and this is not likely to change.
4. I've been in my current job for about two years.
5. Unfortunately, there isn't an IT component to my position and there is no real opportunity for me to take on that type of responsibility. There's someone else in that role, and that kind of thing is both Above My Paygrade and Outside of My Bailiwick.
So, what could my exit strategy be? Ideally, there is a logical move I could make based on my (generally good) current situation. I understand that reasonable people disagree about whether librarianship is a reasonable career choice, so feel free to make your case.
Should I give up the stability of this job for more temp work, with a broader range of duties and a chance at a toehold in a(n unknown) career? Do I need to overcome my fear of the enormous cost and stress of an advanced degree, MLIS or otherwise? Do I need to reconsider my move to the expensive city and pull up stakes for somewhere more affordable?