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Aileen’s story: 4000 Miles Towards Professional Happiness and Success

Aileen’s story comes from Chapter 12: Professional Involvement and Career Development

There are many roads that can lead to librarianship. Mine was approximately 4000 miles long.
I was born and raised in Germany, and moved to the United States in February 2007 to get married. Coming here was a great adventure. The only problem was that I did not know what to do. I had finished my MA in English Linguistics in Germany, but all people could think of when I mentioned my degree was becoming a teacher. That was definitely not for me. Poor kids …

While waiting for my Permanent Resident Card to be processed I started volunteering at our local public library, the Central Rappahannock Library (CRRL) in Fredericksburg, VA. Soon I participated in the training to be a reference sub … and from that point on I was hooked. I felt so comfortable at the library and it was astounding how thankful people were for bits and pieces of information. I toyed with the thought to go back to school for my MLIS, but did not do it, arguing with myself that I already had a masters degree.

In December 2008 I was hired by the Peumansend Creek Regional Jail as their librarian. I did not expect to get the job, and a year later I actually asked my supervisor if there were even other applicants for this position (turned out there were a lot). I loved working at the jail, although my friends and family were worried and could hardly believe that I was happy working with criminals every day. But let me tell you, the few positive moments outweigh all the negative ones. It is a great feeling when you start reading from a book cover and 15 guys in orange jump suites stop talking and start listening to you. This job also helped me in my decision to go back to school, and I enrolled with the University of South Carolina in June 2009 to work towards my MLIS.

Alas, times were tough, and the jail had to eliminate not only my position but also six others in April 2010. But since I am a person that believes in things turning out for the better I went back to CRRL and worked as a sub until I scored an internship with the Library of Congress in their Business Reference Section in July and August. I loved every minute of it. And afterwards? Back to CRRL, this time as their new part-time law librarian.

It is the beginning of April 2011 now, and I just accepted a position as Information Specialist/Librarian at the National Transportation Library, U.S. Department of Transportation in DC. I would have never dreamed that I end up being a federal contractor even before I graduate (this will happen May 6, and with a 4.0 GPA as it stands right now). I loved every class I took and every teacher I had. Everything I learned is somehow incorporated in everything you see on my resume this day. I have presented posters, spoken at conferences, published articles, worked on committees … and I can’t imagine doing anything else. I love what I do, and it is a good feeling to know that I am good at it.

Who knew that in order to find myself I had to cross the ocean? Be brave, and dare to be adventurous, fellow and future librarians! Take pride in your profession. It is a noble one!

Aileen M. J. Marshall, MA, and as of May 6 2011, MLIS

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