Someone posted this comment to an earlier piece of mine about jobs, amidst a lot of comments from frustrated librarians and library school students. I came across it again recently, and thought I might respond. The Pollyanna tone of the longer comment is very touching, but I'm much too cynical to be swayed by it. However, I will address this short excerpt:
"I really don't understand why so many of you are having doubts and frustrations. Maybe you need to broaden your horizons? Having the degree makes you a perfect candidate for office, clerical, administrative, data management, IT, etc, jobs."
And if that doesn't inspire you, I don't know what will! All will have their own take on this, but frankly I don't want to broaden my horizons that much. I like my horizons rather narrow. Let me explain.
There are jobs, and then there are vocations. The two shouldn't be confused. A job is just a piece of labor. It's something you do, either for pay or for free, but just because it needs to get done. A vocation is something else. Vocation derives from the Latin for a "summons" or a "call." A vocation is something you've been called to do, and it's of larger significance than just a job. This is why priests are called to a vocation, not a job. The vulgarians who changed "job training" into "vocational training" were just part of the silly trend to make things sound grander by adding syllables.
You don't do a job for the sake of doing the job. You do it either because it really needs to get done (e.g., unclogging a toilet), or because you're getting paid for it (e.g. discharging returned library books). But a vocation is different. A vocation is done for its own sake and for the enjoyment of it. If you derive a lot of pleasure from your job, or if you do things in your job you'd be doing anyway, or if you would miss it if you suddenly became financially independent and didn't have to work anymore, then your job shows signs of being a vocation for you.
I'm an academic librarian, and I don't want to work in any other sort of library. I'm in academia because in general I agree with the educational and research mission of the academy. My own participation in this mission varies depending on whether I'm working as a librarian or in some other capacity, but even as a librarian some parts of my job are more directly concerned with the educational and research mission of the university than others, and I grow more annoyed with my job the the more it strays from that mission. The more direct my participation in the mission of scholarship and the life of the mind, the closer I get to having a vocation.
Needless to say, I don't feel this very often as a librarian, but I wouldn't feel it at all in an "office, clerical, administrative, or data management" job. The more clerical and administrative my job becomes, the less interesting it is for me. I don't want to be an office clerk, and the glorified office clerk parts of librarianship annoy me the most. If the MLS makes me a perfect candidate for these jobs, then it hasn't significantly benefited me, because I don't want them. It's not broadening my horizons to qualify me for jobs I would find even more boring than the one I have now.
This explains some of my frustration with librarianship, though I can't say just with librarianship since I have often felt the same way doing other jobs. Must be a temperamental thing. And I'm probably in the minority on this one, as on so many other issues, but I'd like to feel I was serving a worthwhile purpose in an important way that challenged me and brought me pleasure and intellectual stimulation while doing so. Early on I was naive enough to think I could find a vocation as well as a job in librarianship. I would like to have a vocation. What I usually have is just a job.