This was originally going to be in the path not taken, but that post took a different course so it made sense to take out this detail.
The transition between university and getting a real job is never easy, and for me this change also corresponded with moving from Australia to the USA. I temped for a year at the University of Minnesota. There is always something nice about working in a university, even if it’s not the position you might have wanted. I think there are even fewer male secretaries than male librarians, but I mostly enjoyed the work and I think I was pretty good at it - I was offered and eventually accepted a permanent position as a “Senior Secretary”. Not long after that I got my first library job.
The next transition was when I chose to return to Australia after living in the USA for over 6 years. I was blogging then and I only need to review posts from 2004 to remember how difficult that change was. There were no full-time librarian positions for me in Tasmania, and there probably never will be! After being unemployed for a demoralizing few months, I got a job at a Vodafone call centre. Call centres are one of the blights of twenty-first century life - horrible for customers and dehumanizing for the employees. Still, that job was not a total loss. There was a good camaraderie (born of shared suffering) with my co-workers. Some of the phone techniques which I learned there still work for me in libraries - that faking a smile makes you sound more friendly over the phone, and being cheery (even if it’s kind of fake) helps things - it’s better than wallowing in the misery.
Immediately after Vodafone, I worked as an information officer for NEMMCO (now called AEMO). It wasn’t quite the library job I was after, but even now I’m glad that I have a solid understanding of how our electricity system works. It’s something fundamental which we all take for granted, but it’s also quite arcane. That job did lead me to Sydney, which is where I think I needed to be, because that’s where I started working in libraries again.