I am focusing on Professional Learning Experiences for the Infinite Learning adventure because it speaks to my heart in so many ways. I’m a firm believer of lifelong learning because I think that’s the only way to stay connected in this ever changing world. I started this MLIS program because I care so much about professional development and it seems to be the most effective way to get me through a career plateau. However, I also went through a hard time figuring out if it’s worthwhile joining this self-funded program. Now I’d like to share the process of my transition from an “excluded cynic” to a “curious introvert” and then a “self-driven go-getter”.
In his book Wholehearted Librarianship (2019), Michael Stephens puts forward the Formula for Success:
Essential Skills + Mindset² × Support = Success
There’s no doubt that success can be defined in many ways, but this formula really brings out some very interesting points which resonate with my own professional learning experience. Having been a service staffer for more than five years at an academic library, I see myself grow tremendously when it comes to essential skills that are needed to do my job well. But the problem is, when I reached a certain period in my career, instead of feeling content and comfortable, I started to feel unsettled and anxious because I realized that there was nothing more I could learn from my work. I understood that not all organizations could afford expensive learning programs or conferences for frontline staffers, but still, the “excluded cynic” persona started to shape in me. I secretly complained about the lack of learning opportunities and let those negative emotions get the better of me. As described by Michael Stephens, my mindset during that time was “just give me the paycheck” (2019) but did not take any actions. Clearly, I was wasting my own time and it blocked me from so many possibilities that could have happened for me if I were more rational and proactive. Luckily, I picked myself up from there and started to find learning opportunities on my own. I observed how other people work and learned from our collaborative projects; I reached out to my manager and asked for feedback and suggestions; I was curious about areas that were out of my own expertise and let that curiosity guide me to explore the things I didn’t know… I had become a “curious introvert” by that time and that was also when I felt the power of a positive mindset.
Thanks to my manager and colleague’s support, I was then introduced to online MLIS programs like this one. They helped me compare different programs and offered constructive advice when it came to work-study-life balance. After more than one year’s consideration, I finally applied to SJSU and got accepted. Learning new things and connecting with new people in the information profession has inspired me so much and it also helps me build confidence at work. I learn from this program, share the things I learn with my colleagues, and I even come up with new ideas and create learning opportunities for other team members. There’s still a long way to go for me to reach the “success” I expected, but I have surely become a “self-driven go-getter” by now.
Professional learning can happen in many different forms. The transition of my own learning persona has taught me that no matter how the outside world looks like, we must find the ultimate driving force in ourselves and treat it as a lifelong process.
Stephens, M. (2020). Infinite learning: Professional learning experiences . INFO 287 – The Hyperlinked Library. https://sjsu-ischool.hosted.panopto.com/Panopto/Pages/Viewer.aspx?id=6aee1751-fe1a-4d46-bff9-aaef0136212c
Stephens, M. (2019). Wholehearted librarianship: Finding hope, inspiration, and balance. ALA Editions.