On Working at a Public Instution vs. a For-Profit Institution

I belong to the New Members Round Table (NMRT) listserv. There was an interesting discussion going on over the past few days that I thought I might share here. The person who got the conversation going asked what the potential disadvantages were to taking a library job at a for-profit school.

I can’t see any reason why an unemployed librarian would pass up a job opportunity anywhere.

My first post-degree library job was at a for-profit school and I liked it a lot. I worked as a cataloger at an art school. I met good people, acquired skills that I did not learn at library school (for example, my first day on the job was the first time I had used an ILS. Shocking, right?) And most importantly, once it was time for me to move on I was able to without any problems. Out of all of the interviews I went on, not one person asked me why I “went over to the dark side” or anything like that. In fact, not long after hiring me my boss at the school took a position at a public library.

Future employers may value an employee that has worked outside of the traditional educational system. You would be bringing a different point-of-view to the table. You may have had to do more committee work or submitted more reports than you would have in a public school. Some employers might view it as an asset.

If I were hiring someone and it came down to someone with for-profit experience and someone without any experience I would hire the former. For-profit education has had a dark shadow cast over it in the past year. But that does not mean that you should pass up a job opportunity.

Times are tough. You could end up waiting 5 years before you find your dream job. You might as well get into the field and start learning things, making connections, and earning some money to go towards that student debt. Your student loans aren’t going to wait for you to find that dream job.

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