Independently of each other, two colleagues recently wrote to me about the challenges of finding the perfect career. I gratefully acknowledge their contribution to the ongoing discussion.
Using the analogy of going to the mall for jeans and finding several pairs with a so-so fit and no pairs with a perfect fit, Laura Chuang (firstname.lastname@example.org), a student at University of Toronto's Faculty of Information, explored the difficulty in establishing a unique skillset - so early in one's career - to match the very specific and detailed requirements set out in job postings. Laura is putting her finger right on a classic dilemma: How do you get job experience when you don't have the experience to get a job? The keen right-out-of-school graduate may indeed be lacking specific experience but does offer - and should (IMHO) position it in applications - a set of capabilities potential employers ought to appreciate. I count among them exposure to current technology, familiarity with social media, skills in "looking into" the latest developments and market offerings, and a flexible attitude with a hefty dose of willingness to go the extra mile. As for gaining, while still in school, the concrete knowledge described in job postings, the challenge is to fit independent learning and research into the existing academic work load. Attending local meetups, bartering favors with colleagues in return for exposure to specific tools, and similar strategies all require time. No doubt about it - it's a serious investment for one's future career.
Taking her point of departure in the current interest "big data" is garnering, Linda Forshaw (email@example.com), a Business Information Systems graduate from Lancaster University in the UK and regular contributor to www.degreejungle.com, wrote to me about the opportunities emerging from the massive gathering of transactional evidence undertaken by businesses and government. Linda comments that the MLS degree is anything but among the "worst degrees for graduates" as it was claimed by Jacquelyn Smith in 2011 (http://onforb.es/I78jDt) but rather is an opportune foundation for working in settings dealing with the immense amounts of data resulting from and driving our businesses and activities. Judging by the results from searching the words librarian big data, there is backup for that view. It is no accident, Linda points out, that leading faculties of information science offer courses to prepare students to work in data science.
Perhaps Laura and Linda - and all their colleagues - wish to discuss the implications of society's reliance on wrestling with astronomical quantities of data for decision making, policy development, and economic measures? In previous blog posts and conference presentations, I have commented how future jobs for information professionals are likely to exist where business and government address challenges in records management, client relations management, and similar endeavors … if we do a good job translating our professional jargon so as to meaningfully convince employers we are right for the task.