A New Opportunity for Career Growth…but in a different direction!

28 Jul

So, as some of you might have heard (since I’ve been updating FB about it for 2 months—who WOULDN’T know??), I applied for a job in my library that was two rungs above my current position. My job as a librarian in charge of staff development is going away, to become someone else’s responsibility. 3 positions opened up, one being an Assistant Director for Technical Services, which would mean I’m responsible for all the materials the library has as well as the budget to manage those materials. I’d manage 7 people.

I’ve been at Central Piedmont Community College for 6 years, which amazes me, and I’ve held a variety of jobs. I’ve never been promoted (and I’ve never asked for a promotion), because I didn’t think I was ready for a lot more responsibility, and I’ve just kind of floated from thing to thing throughout the years. Making the decision to apply for this job, which would be an entirely new learning experience for me and would actually require WORK after years of mostly goofing off (in between periods of being uber-productive), was a huge decision for me. I actually had nightmares that I would go to work and have no idea what I was doing and the Dean would say “We took a chance on you, and you haven’t stepped up. I’m so disappointed.” It was stressful! But I thought to myself—better to go for it and not make it than to never bother. I was up against 4 internal candidates, one being another Assistant Director who had already had the position, and one who basically everyone thought was a shoe-in. They were all, on average, easily 15 years older than me.

So I worked on my cover letter, with the help of Lisa, UNCC Librarian Extraordinaire. I worked on my resume with the help of my brother, Mr. Human Resources VP himself at Bank of America. I prepped my ass off for the interview, writing down potential questions and answers, rehearsing scenarios in my head with my friend Jonathan, to be prepared for any outcome.

And you know what? I shocked myself. When I looked at the finished result, I thought—I’m pretty fantastic! That resume could take me out of the library and into the private sector. It was good. I realized as I was putting it together that I had accomplished a lot, taken projects that were flailing and made them into something to be proud of. I presented at conferences, did poster sessions, was part of committees…I was way less apathetic than I originally thought! And when it came time for my interview, I was so nervous when I walked into a room of 6 library peers, 3 who would be managed by me, but as soon as the first of the 26 questions started…I was at ease. I was prepared. I had good answers, I had all the appropriate scenarios, I came off knowledgeable and unforced, and I knew my stuff. I surprised myself. I know I surprised them!

I heard that it was down to me and another candidate with 20 years on me (but not in this field), and that the committee was surprised at how well I did and how close it was. It was down to the wire. For two weeks, the committee deliberated, and then went to the Dean with their recommendation.

I didn’t get it.

I found out this morning. It was a tight race (or so I heard) between me and the librarian with more experience, and they gave it to her. Honestly, she’s a good choice. Is she better than me? I don’t necessarily think so. I think she’ll be a good manager, but I think she’ll be hell to manage (she’s one tough cookie and thinks she’s right about 99% of the time…and will tell you so). But she’s a go-getter, and she gets things done. Frankly, I might have made that decision myself if I’d been on the committee.

But this is what I appreciate: that I did it. That I got my resume and cover letter together to prove to myself I’m actually good at what I do. That I know my boss was really pulling for me (she’s the one who wanted me to try out in the first place a year ago when this position was mentioned). And honestly, that I think I surprised the hell out of the interview committee, who were prepared to give it to other librarian because she was so well-qualified and they didn’t expect me to put up a fight. I love being underrated. Do I think they made a wrong choice? Maybe. I know I would’ve done a good job (I rarely do a poor job when I’m in it). But I’m ok with it. I have time to continue proving myself. I haven’t jumped anyone in the food chain. I know my own strengths and qualifications.

So what’s my next step? Well, you’re looking at the new Head of Instruction, a senior level position one rung above me. Not bad! I get to manage one of my best friends, who I’ve managed before in my staff training position; as soon as the money appears from the state, I’ll get a raise; my training experience and ease of use with technology made the Dean basically tell me I was the most qualified for this position over all the other candidates (basically Teaching Library instruction classes both online and in person and using technology to do so) and I still have years to develop myself and work my way up to a senior level position. I get it. I’m not upset because I think the chosen librarian is very qualified. I’m proud of myself for making the attempt. And I’m excited about the opportunity to try new things in Instruction, go to more conferences, improve my management skills, excite my students, interact with the faculty, and make this job my own. It’s not my first choice (hell, it’s not even my second choice), but I can’t say it’s not the best place for me. I think I’ll fit in just right, and if I hate it…well, in a year I’ll be able to tell you exactly why it’s not my thing and I’ll have it on my resume! I can move on to something else new!

The funny part was that the one time I try to really step out of my safe zone…I’m put into a position that’s still pretty safe! But maybe that was on purpose…maybe I still have some work to do. But it’ll be up to me to make that job worth something to be proud of, something worth working for.

As you can tell, I’m feeling pretty zen about the whole thing. Thank you so much for your kind words of support, prayers, and advice. I appreciate it. The new job starts Monday, officially—and I’ve got some work to do!

Oh, and the announcement doesn’t go out officially until tomorrow, so if you see any of my co-workers around…don’t mention it for about 18 more hours! 😉

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