Who is in charge of your career?

Who is in charge of your career?

  • Your organisation?
  • Your boss?
  • Your partner?
  • Your mother/father?
  • God?
  • You?

I’m in charge of my career, and I hope you are in charge of yours. Sure others have an influence, but as individuals we have to map our own path.

One of the things we heard time and again at this year’s LIANZA conference was that librarians can no longer expect to be spoon-fed paid training, in work time, if they want a career instead of a job. Libraries who want to advance their career and stay on top of what’s happening in the world of librarianship need to have control of their learning and that includes paying for professional development opportunities which they complete in their own time.

Does that sound tough? Yes, maybe it is. But it’s the reality in 2013, and 2014, and …. times have changed and we need to change with them. And it’s not just librarians who are in this position either; most people today change careers at least once and need to take control of their training needs.

Here’s a question for you. What are YOU doing to take charge of your career and your own learning? 


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6 Responses to Who is in charge of your career?

  1. Seonaid says:

    Hiya – Great points here. Yes, people should absolutely be responsible for their own professional development – whether its taking advantage of what your employer has on offer, or seeking it out for yourself outside of work. If you think that your employer should invest in you, then you should consider it worth investing in yourself too.

    Of course, assumptions are dangerous, and we never know what is going on in the lives of the people that we work with, even when we know them quite well.

    For example, people’s personal financial situations can be a barrier:- things like conferences might not be within reach of some people’s budgets – travel, accommodation, living costs, and registration.

    Taking annual leave for such things can also be problematic for those with young families. Often annual leave is needed for school holidays for child care purposes.

    So then the self-directed professional development needs to take place in other forms, that fit within family and finances.

    And of course, one day, the conference may come to a place near home, which makes going easier and removes most of those barriers. One day families have grown up, and there is more disposable income.

    Those juggling library studies, with work and family, often find the worklife balance a challenge too. I know I couldn’t possibly fit another thing in at the moment (although I look with longing at some things, wishing I could).

    Personally, I’m looking forward to finishing my library studies, not just for the sense of achievement, but also because it means that I will get to spend my energy in other areas (not because I plan to be done with learning).

  2. Cath says:

    Seonaid I am glad you raised the fact that there can be barriers for even the keenest people. It’s something the Emerging Leaders Working Group are acutely aware of. We want to ensure there’s a wide range of opportunities for people so they can fit round lifestyle, kids etc.
    I’ve often studied while working full time so understand how overwhelming it can get – enjoy the countdown to using your time in different ways.

  3. Meg Simons says:

    Very good points! More people need to take control of their futures and realize that they really do hold all of the power. It’s amazing how many individuals try putting responsibility on the shoulders of others.

    • Camille Peters says:

      I agree that people need to be responsible for their own careers and be prepared to commit some of their own time and money to professional development. I know that I have spent quite a lot of my money on attending seminars and conferences, doing courses, and on my personal professional library. However, employers do have a significant role to play in offering professional development and training.

      Some employers have far more resources available – for profit companies should have more money available for training than public sector or not for profit organisations – but even employers with limited resources can offer something. For example, the public sector organisation that might not be able to pay travel expenses could at least pay for the seminar or conference while the employee pays the travel expenses or a charity could pay training leave when an employee attends a seminar that the employee paid for. The point is not how much the employer is paying but that the employer is engaging with the employee and supporting/facilitating/enabling professional development. There are a variety of options for training and professional development – courses, seminars, self-directed learning, mentoring, coaching, access to technologies to play with them, MOOCs, 23 things and similar programmes – and not all of these require vast amounts of money or time. They do require engagement and interest, preferably from both the employee and the employer.

      I presented at a conference this year and neither asked for nor received any financial support from my employer. My manager did ask for a copy of my paper after I came back from the conference. He never asked what my paper was about. I certainly would have appreciated some financial support but what really miffs me was the lack of encouragement and lack of genuine interest from my manager.

      Employers should offer training to their staff to keep them up to date. If they want productive, motivated staff, giving staff opportunities for training and growth benefits both the staff and the organisation. If they want staff who can do the job as the job evolves over time they need to invest in training, whether formal or informal opportunities. If they offer training, the risk is that staff will leave for a better job elsewhere. If they don’t offer training, the risk is that staff who are increasingly out of touch with technology and with contemporary professional practice will stay.

      You do have to take responsibility for your own career but while you are with a particular employer, they should be supporting you to do your job effectively. There will be limits on what a particular employer can do for you in terms of training, professional development and career advancement but they should be helping you, and you should be helping yourself to gain the skills and knowledge you need for your career.

      Professional development is important to me and I would do it regardless of whether or not my employer was supportive. Would I prefer to work for an employer who is supportive? Yes, yes, yes! Now I better get back to part one of my career plan: updating and improving my resume.

      • Seonaid says:

        YES! I agree. In my previous career, I worked in the private sector – training differed from one company to the next.
        One company I worked for, refused to give me any training because “they thought I would leave” if they did.
        So guess what, I left anyway.

        I agree that it doesn’t always have to be the employer paying 100% of the costs.

        And I like that I work in a library that invests in its employees.

        • Seonaid says:

          BTW I’ve always invested more in my career than my employer. Probably sounded too flippant, but I always invest more in my career than my employer does, cos its my career.

          Its nice when they invest too (even the poorest companies can find ways of training without spending any/too much money).

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