My Career Story

By Jo Pilon

Like so many people I couldn’t decide what I wanted to do when I left school so I decided since I loved reading, I would study to be a Librarian. Off I went to College and started studying, but I hadn’t realised how hard it would be to go from a small community of about 250 people to 250 in the lecture hall! There were so many new things to cope with public transport, getting lost because there were so many buildings.

Everyone else seemed to know other people and I didn’t know anyone. So, I left college and got a “nice safe job”.

Move on a few years and I was married to a farmer, had 3 children and the nearest town only had 1500 people. My youngest child was about to go to school, so I started looking for work, but of course I wanted school hours. I was lucky, I got some casual work as a Teacher’s Aide. I started working with children who needed extra help in the classroom and then I got some work in the school library (how ironic) and I loved it.

I went to the local TAFE and got some computer skills and I realised how much I loved learning again. My only university option was to study by distance as I had a young family and lived over 158 kilometres from a uni town. I studied Library and Information Science part time, by distance for the next 6 years and worked part time. Working in the field you study in is so helpful as you can apply what you are learning.

Distance Study: in those days we got our study packs in the mail at the beginning of every Semester. I still remember the excitement I felt when I saw it in the mail box.

After a few years we moved and I was able to get a Library Technician job in an independent school. We moved again to a more isolated area in the Central West of NSW and I got a job as a Coordinator of an In-Home Care Service leading a team of 14. My studies had included a major in Human Resource Management, so whilst it wasn’t my ideal job I gained so much experience, this has proved invaluable ever since.

As my studies drew to a close, I decided to open up my employment options and study the Certificate IV Training and Assessment so I could teach adults. From this I got some part time work teaching Microsoft Office at the local TAFE and my network broadened.

Once again I was lucky, in the right place at the right time.

One of the visiting staff from another campus told me thier Librarian wasn’t able to go on leave as she couldn’t get a replacement. The next week I had a temporary placement for 6 months. The Librarian subsequently resigned and I was successful in getting the permanent position. This was the time of the Millennium Drought so it was a godsend to our family and as it turned out it was the perfect job for me. Of course, it had it’s disadvantages such as 1 1/2 hours travel each way (after a few years I stayed over during the week).

Providing a high-quality information service to students and staff and supporting the vision of the Institute was an essential part of the job. I started work there in 2004 which was just when information was becoming more electronic and accessible, an exciting time for information professionals.

As I was the manager of 3 small libraries, I found electronic access to such a wide range of resources amazingly useful for my customers and tried to learn everything I could so I could pass it onto them.

Online study tools such as Moodle, Adobe Connect, Lync provided the ability to break down the barriers of isolation.

They also helped me meet the needs of my customers when I was situated in the other Campus Library. Then the iPhone came and the whole world of communication and access to information changed again.

I put my hand up for any training opportunity that came along, I volunteered for projects and I applied successfully for higher-level positions. Building my skills but also meeting and working with a diverse group of people with different skills.

I was always on the lookout for opportunities to learn and build relationships.

Working in regional colleges provided me with a different experience to my counterparts who worked in the larger centers. Often there are less staff to do the same job so the job covers a wider range of tasks and responsibilities. This was my experience and I loved the breadth of knowledge I needed to perform my job plus the variety of tasks entailed. I also loved the strong relationships I was able to build with other staff of the colleges. Most projects take the whole college staff working together for a common goal and sharing in those successes or failures strengthens those relationships even more.

After over 14 years in a job I loved the time had come to move on. I decided to talk to an expert as even though I still loved my job, other areas of my life were changing. I had also decided the things I really loved about being a Librarian like my autonomy, my ability to see a need and then instigate the solution would be unlikely to be available if I worked in another Library.

I wanted to see a career consultant but the only one I could find was 4 hours away in Canberra.

My Career Consultant was very helpful and one of her suggestions was for me to become a Career Practitioner myself. I felt this was a good option for me as I was still living isolated from larger centres and I knew it was something I could do remotely.

Once again I studied, this time it was the Graduate Certificate in Career Education & Development.

Then with my daughter Kate, we started Expand Careers Consulting.

I still worked in the Library 4 days per week. Then as things often seem to, we had a number of changes happen all at once; I resigned, we sold our farm and moved to Albury NSW. This was a big move for us but I am now back to doing what I love. Providing customised career and enterprise skills coaching to local Albury/Wodonga people and remotely to other areas of rural NSW/VIC.

I hope you have enjoyed reading about my career story. I would love to hear about yours if you wold like to share it with me. It can be short or long, the whole story or just part. Click on this link to share your career story with me on Messenger.

Interested to know more?
So many things to know and consider when starting off in a career or even when you want to change your career.

Knowing about yourself and your interests, favourite subjects, work preferences, values and also knowing what jobs are out there that may suit those areas takes expertise and understanding.

If you are unsure about any of these things, if you need someone to help you plan for your future career then take advantage of the free half hour “Getting to Know You” Session with Jo or Kate at Expand Careers Consulting. Booking a consultation with a Career Counsellor is your first step to taking control of your working life.

Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) 2008 Education Across Australia Abstract
Ballas, B 2017 Building successful careers in regional towns. My future.
Cassells, R., Duncan, A., & Dockery, M. 28 June 2017. New research shows there is still along way to go in providing equality in education. The Conversation.
Fredrickson, Eric,. 2015. Is online education good or bad and is this really the right question. The Conversation.
Labour Market Information Portal, ABS.
Regional Australia. 2017 Regional city performance – where does your city sit?

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