Picking berries

I have been revisiting some of my old texts while I was doing my usability subject, namely Information Architecture for the World Wide Web by Morville and Rosenfeld and came across The design of Browsing and Berrypicking- it fits into my ongoing interest on how people use the web to search for information.

Berrypicking is basically an evolving search- strategies and focus will change on the available information at hand. Rather than a linear search, berrypicking meanders.

My own experiences online while either studying or browsing reflect this. One minute, I’ll be reading a blog, when a link catches my eye. I’ll jump from one site to the next and the next thing I know I’m on an Etsy page which sells the most gorgeous vintage clothes and I’ve bought a jacket!

This method of information seeking is seen in real life as well. I consider my career choices and subsequent career paths have been very much a berry-picking exercise.

At the age of 5 I wanted to be a princess, but was put off by the idea because you often had to marry someone you didn’t really want to. This information was sourced from fairy tales.

At the age of 6 I wanted to be a ballerina- I read every single story I could find, and eventually started going to ballet classes in Year 7. I was put off by the fact I loved bread too much and I would never be the right shape.

Around the same time I also wanted to be a teacher- information coming from the presence of dad who was a maths teacher. I knew teachers drew on blackboards (which I loved to do) and came home before dark, and got to spend school holidays with me. I practiced with my toys, a little blackboard I got as a Christmas present and my little sister, who did not have the aptitude to sit still and was a poor student.

I would occasionally play library around the age of 12-13, but my little brothers never returned their books on time- grrr…When I was in secondary school, I knew I wanted to study at uni, and possibly do a teaching grad dip at the end of my degree. Teaching was my fall-back career. I also considered writing, but was persuaded by my parents that it was not a steady job and would be best considered a hobby.

At the age of 16, I wanted to study law, purely because there was a cute guy who lived around the corner whose dad was a magistrate. My mum was estatic with my decision. My marks, however let me down and I ended up doing Arts at Melbourne, with the half-hearted decision to transfer to Law at some point. Luckily, I never did- I don’t think I would have had the stomach for it.

After studying Politics, French and Italian, I thought my career path would lay with Australian Public Service as an employee of DFAT. Once again my marks thwarted me- I needed to do an Honours year and I was 1% off the average to do Pure Honours in Politics. Bugger.

So at the end of my Arts degree, I was still working at Myer, no longer contemplating entering teaching. Jeff Kennett had revolutionised the Education Department, by slashing teacher numbers, offering contract positions and generally making teaching a very unpalatable option. I knew that unless I did further study, I was doomed to end up in retail permanently.

I went to the Career Reference Centre, similar to the Career Information Centre, and one run by the Commonwealth Employment Service. I looked at my strengths and weaknesses, likes and dislikes and came up with two possible options: editing/publishing and librarianship. I chose librarianship because there was a slightly better employment opportunities. I ended up at the University of Ballarat because they were still taking applicants in January for their Graduate Diploma course, and within the first three weeks of the course commencing, I knew I had made the right decision.

My career as a librarian has also followed a meandering route. I have never been one to have a five-year plan. My first job was in a public library because it was the first full-time job I was offered. My second one at the State Library of Victoria came up as a secondment and one for wich I was able to take a leave of absence. I had been looking at changing jobs for two years, but had not found what I was looking for.

The secondment turned into a contract, which turned into an ongoing position. I chanced across my present job in the paper, applied on a whim, as the pay was much better than what I was getting. I remember being stunned when I was told I got the job.

Basically my life lesson is look for opportunities wherever you are, as you don’t know where life will take you. My career path  allowed me to meet Mr BG, my lovely friends S and PS, travel, study and connect with a wonderful community of people committed to their jobs. And somehow I don’t think that would have happened had I decided to become a princess…

9 Comments

Filed under bookgrrl, libraries, usability

9 responses to “Picking berries

  1. strawberriesofintegrity

    I love how you weave your stories …thanks you.
    You’re not going to believe it but my post ‘how I became a librarian’ – still in draft starts with “Once upon a time there was a year 12 girl who wasn’t sure what she wanted to do when she left school. Careers advice was either – become a nurse or a teacher?…” Must finish it

  2. What a lovely story. And you would make a wonderful princess – just need more princess rights!

  3. Tim

    how about “recommendations” as a method of finding information. I think I found this blog from “recommended feeds” from google reader.

    in real world, maybe that’s the career adviser.

    • bookgrrl

      I think as search engines become more sophisticated, this type of information finding will become more commonplace. It’s pushing information and Google uses our own searches to help refine what information or sites are recommended

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