That Artsy Librarian | My Decision to Get a Master’s Degree

Posted January 8, 2014 by Jana in About Me, That Artsy Librarian / 22 Comments


That Artsy Librarian is a feature all about my journey through graduate school as I work towards my Master’s degree in Library and Information Science.

First off, welcome to my brand new feature all about my life as a grad school student in library and information science! I’m a little late getting things started, as my grad school story started in December of 2012, but no worries! I’ll make sure I catch all of you up on what I’ve been up to!

What better way to start my story than at the beginning? This decision to completely change my future did not come about easily. I went through a lot of confusion and frustration before finally deciding what I needed to do to be a happier person. Ever since I graduated from college with a degree in graphic design back in December of 2009, I was confused. I knew I loved designing, but I discovered it was an industry that I wanted to be very selective about. I wanted to design what I wanted to design, for people I wanted to design things for! I did not love the idea of getting a job at a design firm and then being required to be creative on demand. Design is a very personal thing for me. If I am presented with a project I’m excited about, I go all out. The ideas flow immediately. If I don’t care much for the project, I sit and wallow in my un-creativity forever. I get stressed out. I chew myself out for not being perfect. I could not see myself being happy in the corporate world of graphic design. That’s why I freelance. I can be selective. I remember one time a potential client came to me asking for me to design an erotica book cover. I was happy that I was allowed the choice to decline.

Since I knew I was only wanting to freelance, I started looking for a job that would give me a steady income. This broke and bookish girl can’t live off of a few design jobs a month. Nobody can! During this time of confusion and tough decisions, I fell into a volunteer position at an elementary school, teaching children how to read. I loved it. The position turned into a paying job, and I got to teach reading, phonics, and even some art. In the end, the school lost some of their funding funding and I was out of a job. I substitute taught for a year, again ending up in a position that did not give me a steady income. In addition to that, I was months away from losing my health insurance. It was time to find a serious, full time job with benefits. I found one very quickly, and was really excited at first! It sounded like a promising opportunity to climb the corporate ladder. This place ended up being the beginning of the decline of my health, though. The working environment was so toxic and abusive that I was constantly on pins and needles. The customers were horrible, and my superiors were heartless. I developed 15+ ulcers, I ruined my gallbladder and had to have surgery for its removal, I developed all kinds of weird stomach and digestive problems, I gained weight, my entire body hurt all the time, and I was very depressed. I had hit rock bottom. Literally. In my eyes, there was no way my life could get any worse.

Last Christmas, my mom and I were sitting in our living room by the Christmas tree as I had one of my frequent meltdowns. I cried and cried over my future. I graduated magna cum laude (GPA of 3.8), for crying out loud! I killed myself in college to be perfect and pave the road for my future. And what did it get me? I was chained to a desk being yelled at by customers, and not being defended by my superiors. As my mom and I sat there wondering what to do, it hit my mom that I needed to go back to school. My jaw dropped, and I looked at her like “are you kidding?” Go BACK to school? I was so happy to leave! Why would I choose to go back? It only took a few minutes for me to agree, though. But what should I go back to school for?

We thought and thought, and realized that being a librarian would be the perfect job for me. I could work with children, I could share my love of reading, I could still use my graphic design skills (artsy librarians are a novelty), and I could make great money. I could do something I love and get paid for it. From that point on, I was determined. The next few months would be a whirlwind of research and applying, but I was ready. My future was bright again, and I knew I would end up being happy.

Let’s talk for a second. Have you ever reached a point in your life where you felt like you could sink no further? How did you handle that? What advice do you have for people who are going through something like that?

Keep an eye out for my next That Artsy Librarian feature, where I will tell you all about the application process!

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22 responses to “That Artsy Librarian | My Decision to Get a Master’s Degree

  1. I actually relate to this. I’m an undergrad English major whose initial intention was to go to grad school for library science. But the road just seems so bleak and long and SO DAMN EXPENSIVE. I have break downs at least once a month in regards to my future- it scares the hell out of me. Reading softens the blow a bit. I’m not sure if I still wish to pursue a librarian career- I’m considering taking my LSAT exam.
    Jillyn recently posted…Review: Historical Heartthrobs

    • Jana

      Jillyn, I so know how you feel. The road is definitely long and expensive, but has been very rewarding so far. It’s so hard to look toward your future and not know where you’re headed, or if you’re even happy with any of the possibilities! There are so many decisions to make at our age, and sometimes I feel very unequipped to make them. :) I find a lot of solace in reading as well. Whatever you choose, I hope it makes you happy. The LSAT is huge! Good luck with that if you decide to go for it! Sending good vibes your way. :)

  2. I didn’t know you were a freelance designer. I will keep that in mind for the future. Like you, I went through a lot after graduating from college. Also like you, my mom was the one who suggested I go back to school, even though she was adamant that I wasn’t allowed to do that until I could support myself. So, in 13 days, I will start school as a journalism major. I am anxious and excited. It’s going to be the biggest challenge of my life, but I think it will be good for me.
    Brianna recently posted…waiting on wednesday: writing & reporting news

    • Jana

      Not many people in the book world know I design! That’s where the “Artsy” comes from in my blog title. :) Yes, do keep me in mind if you’re ever in the need!

      Moms are so smart. Good luck going back to school! It’s kind of scary, but exciting at the same time. I hope your first semester back is wonderful!

  3. Ann

    I’m glad you found your way and found your calling. All the best with your graduate studies! I’ve been there! Recently graduated and am so relieved I am done! Here’s to bright futures and hoping all this education pays off! =D

    • Jana

      Thanks, Ann! Congrats on your recent graduation. :) I feel like my graduation is at least a thousand years away at this point. Hopefully your next page in life makes all that hard work worth it to you!

  4. Oh, Jana! I didn’t realize that time was so totally brutal for you :( Side note: I also had to have my gallbladder removed two years ago (almost exactly) and sometimes I wonder if the stress of the job I was at and being three hours away from the boyfriend aided its failure. Who knows. I’m at a rock bottom place myself at the moment but I’m desperately trying to keep my head up. I haven’t worked for a paycheque in almost a year, I did two internships that led nowhere and I’ve been searching non-stop for a job since June. It’s SO hard to stay positive but I’ve got friends and family that help, and it seems like you did too. I’m so glad your mom encouraged you to go back to school. It does seem crazy to go back but I can tell this is something you’re loving, even if it is a lot of work. Thank you for sharing your story with us!
    Kaley @ Books Etc recently posted…Cover Reveal: A Questionable Friendship

    • Jana

      Kaley, honestly I think the blog and all my friends here made it an easier time for me than it could have been. :) It was so nice to have books and blogging as an outlet, as well as fun people to talk to about fun things. I’m finding more and more young people who have had their gallbladders removed! I think our lives are just too stressful and busy.

      I’m so sorry to hear about your current struggles. When I was little, I had no idea being a 20-something would be so hard! You hear about it being the prime of life, but I think it’s also one of the most confusing and stressful times. I also had a dead-end internship, and I know how tough that can be. I’m glad you have a strong support system. It helps a LOT. Good luck on your quest for a job you love! Definitely keep me updated, because I make one awesome cheerleader! And thank YOU for sharing your story with me. Sometimes it’s nice to know you’re not alone. :)

  5. I’m so glad to hear you made it through the slump and found a new direction! There seem to be quite a few of us reevaluating our employment priorities. I got a Writing Arts degree (which doesn’t really sell well) and, while I’m currently employed at a place with good people, it’s not a job I want long term … so going back to school is one of the options I’m considering, though I’m not crazy about it. Still thinking and praying it over. ^^;; Best of luck finishing up the library degree! It sounds like you’ll be a wonderful librarian. :)
    Kel @ No Cucumber Sandwiches recently posted…The Castle of Llyr by Lloyd Alexander (2 stars)

    • Jana

      Thanks, Kel! You know, I think it’s a lot to have to decide what you want to do with the rest of your life at 17 or 18 years old! Who has lived long enough and had enough experiences at that age to be able to choose a college major? I will never regret getting my degree in graphic design, but it would have been nice if I had figured my life out a little earlier so I didn’t have to STILL be a student at age 26! Going back to school is definitely the kind of decision that takes a LOT of prayer and thought. Good luck as you try to figure things out, and thanks so much for your kind words. :)

  6. Congrats! I recently made the decision to pursue my masters in library/information science too! Thing is, I have to wait until next year to apply — but in the meantime I have to take a stats class and take the GED. I’m trying to stay positive and keep moving forward but it definitely is hard when you went to college for something else (I majored in political science and philosophy).
    Keep posting about your journey! I really would love to follow it! So proud you made the decision.
    Diamond Nazaneen recently posted…Discussion: Make haste to preorder or waste to preorder?

    • Jana

      Thank you! :) And congratulations on your decision as well! Good luck with your stats class and the GED. It’s an exciting time! The biggest challenge I have encountered is that my undergrad degree in art required papers be written in MLA format. My MLIS courses require APA format, so I’m having to adopt an entirely different way of thinking. It’s hard when you completely change your future like this. I’m sure we will both be fine, though!

      I will definitely be posting about the entire process, and am excited you’re interested to see what happens! :)

      • Oh really? That’s interesting! I learned MLA in my major..which I always thought was weird although I did do APA enough to get the gist of it. It’s strange too bc in my state (CA) there are only two masters programs for information science and one is entirely online..which is something I don’t think I could do! So, I’m pursuing the other program which is at UCLA. Meaning, there are a lot more requirements and it’s making me nervous! Sometimes I feel like I’ll never actually get enrolled :| and I’m already turning 27 so it’s hard not to feel like a failure — you know?

        • Jana

          I never thought I could do online either, but that’s actually what I’m doing! Utah has no MLIS programs, and I did not want to move. I really like the flexibility. I actually considered UCLA’s program, but like I said… I was not wanting to move. Hehe. It looks wonderful, though! I hope everything works out for you!

          I know exactly how you feel. I feel like I’m late to the grad school front, considering I graduated college in 2009 and am 26 myself. Interestingly enough, I am one of the youngest in my classes. Don’t feel like a failure. :) You’re working towards awesome things!

          • Wow! Really? Ok now I gotta ask– how is it doing it online? Is it hard? Weird? Perhaps I dismissed it too early…I just always had trouble with online classes bc I tended to push the work to the side and procrastinated even more than I usually do! :(
            That’s so crazy that you’re one of the youngest in your class! maybe I’m being to hard on myself and I mean! we are still very young.. At least the program is only two years to complete too. And I am flexible I may even move to another city — since I heard there aren’t many opportunities for librarians in Los Angeles. I’m flexible :)