This summer I’ve purposely positioned myself at a crossroads in my career, sort of a do-or-die moment where I can work to better lay the groundwork for my career in the information sciences. Even after 30 credits of LIS studies, I’m not yet sure how to orient, and for good reason I think: graduate studies in the field are necessarily grounded in theory. What I need is lots of practice.
In this way, my previous life as a performing musician and private music teacher blends quite well with my current mission of working within the information field. Coursework in both is all about theoretical applications of real life situations, but what one really needs in order to shine is solid time in the practice room. Or, in the LIS world, at internships or taking on projects. Until graduation this December, that’s exactly what I’m doing with my time.
The job market (even, at times, the internship market) reminds me a lot of my short time on the audition circuit for paid gigs in orchestras. Much like the blind audition, where you show up and play predetermined chunks of orchestra music from behind an actual screen, one sends resumes and cover letters out, typically, to invisible recipients. In either case, the answer is binary, and if it’s a no, it’s unlikely that you’ll ever find out why.
Winning either a job or an internship really is a matter of fit, I’ve been reading lately. To win an orchestra gig, your sound needs to blend reasonably well with the musicians around you. I think this is true of your personality and skill set and all of that as an actual human being working in an information setting – you literally have to be able to play well with others.
As my primary professor in my undergraduate career often reminded his students, it feels at times like it takes a lot of luck to win that gig, to play the French horn for a living. This is true; there is some amount of luck involved. But it takes an awful lot of work and directed practice to have the opportunity in the first place.