#citylis Student Perspectives: A Leap into the Unknown – Sarah Rudd on Career-changing after 30

Student Perspectives is our series of guest posts written by current #citylis students.

This post is by #citylis student Sarah Rudd.

Sarah Rudd

#citylis student Sarah Rudd


Some of us are lucky and at an early age know what we want to do with our lives. I remember at primary school, along with my classmates, being asked what I wanted to be when I grew up. Most of the class gave answers like a teacher, doctor, fireman, hairdresser etc. When it came round to my turn to answer this seemingly easy question I gave an answer that perplexed all of the teachers – I said that I wanted to be happy. Now you may not think that this is an unreasonable answer and in all honesty I still think that it is a perfectly reasonable answer, but what it did set a precedent for was me not being able to explain what I wanted to do when I grew up.

You may be wondering by now why I have told you this seemingly pointless story – but there is a point to it. Some of us are lucky and know from a very early age what we want to do when we are a “grown up” and some of us don’t. I feel into the second group.

I fell into the trap of taking a degree that I thought my family wanted – law. Although I stuck it out and finished by degree, by the time I had completed my three years I knew there was no way I wanted to do anything related to law. Following university I had some health problems and as a result fell into being an administrator, initially temping and then in a permanent basis.

In early 2014 I had been through a lot of change at work and wasn’t particularly happy with what I was doing between 9am and 5pm Monday to Friday. Now you may say that I should have just sucked it up and got on with it, but I had reached a point where I didn’t want to be at work, wasn’t being challenged and saw no career prospects. This was a pretty depressing place to be. I realise that not everyone can do their dream job and that is perfectly reasonable, but I didn’t want to spend the next 40 or so years dreading going to work every day. Life is too short.

I chatted with my husband and parents about my unhappiness at work and had a think about what I would like to do, if I was able to. After a lot of thinking about the things I enjoy and what gives me pleasure and how I could incorporate these into my working life (and still make enough money to live on), I realised that I wanted to be a librarian.

This led to the decision to change careers, well into my 30’s.

Many people will say “I want to be a librarian – I love books”. Whilst it is great that you love books this isn’t enough to make you a librarian, let alone a good one. My reasons for wanting to be a librarian came from a few places. I love helping people – all of the jobs I have had in the past that I have loved best have been customer services related, not necessarily in a shop but also in offices where I have provided a service to my colleagues. I also love finding out new information and providing this information to people in a way that can help them in their lives.

Other reasons were more historical; I had once had a dream to run a bookshop so I could impart a love of books and information to children, and finally the remembered pleasure of many happy hours spent working in the library whilst I was at secondary school.

The combination of the unhappiness in my job and these reasons resulted in me taking the decision, along with the support and encouragement of my family to apply to study for my MSc in Library Science at City University so that I could change career.

My decision to make this change from miserable full time administrator in the financial sector to full time Library Science student is one of the best that I have ever made. I appreciate that everyone is different and that one path doesn’t suit everyone, however for me this was the right move.

I finished taught classes in April 2015 having loved all of the information that I learned during the previous 9 months. I found both the taught courses and completing my dissertation project both challenging and rewarding.

You may be wondering where I have ended up following my studies. Well in fact I actually managed to get a job as a librarian mid-course! In late April one of my course mates advertised through Moodle a role as a Clinical/E-learning Librarian working in the NHS hospital library where she was the service manager. I applied and to my surprise I was lucky enough to get the job. I started the role in mid-June and have been learning about health librarianship ever since.

My advice to you would be this: take advantage of every opportunity on offer during your course, make sure that you draw on the knowledge of everyone (students and staff) around you, and possibly most importantly KEEP AN OPEN MIND about job opportunities. The reason I have put this last point in capital letters is not to shout at you but to try and emphasise this point. Never had I imagined working in the NHS as a librarian, but by keeping an open mind to roles that were being advertised on Moodle and wider LIS job adverts you might just stumble upon a role that ticks all your boxes even though it wasn’t what you initially thought you would like. All experience is good and the skills you learn in any job are transferable.

On a final note, I just want to say that although taking the steps to change careers isn’t easy at any age (you have to think of financial, emotional, and social factors and whether you can cope with the changes this will bring in your life), for me personally changing careers has been the best thing that has ever happened to me. My health has improved monumentally as a result, my relationship is better because I am not miserable from work, I actually look forward to going to work, and I am able to use my skills and initiative to help people and make a difference to people.

I hope that if you have already taken the steps to join the LIS world you love what you are learning and will do at the end of your studies. If you are still thinking about studying or changing careers, I hope that you make the right decision for you. Most of all good luck with wherever the future takes you.


Sarah Rudd is on Twitter @sarahlrudd.

Student Perspectives is our series of guest posts written by current #citylis students. If you are a current #citylis student or alumni and would like to contribute a post, please contact Dr Ernesto Priego.

Interested in postgraduate study in Library Science or Information Science? Register for our next Library and Information Science Open Evening on 18 November 2015; 5:30PM here.

For current and future Library and Information Science news, opportunities and events follow the #citylis blog on Twitter @citylis.


About Caitlin Moore

Editorial assistant for the #citylis blog. Former #citylis MSc Library Science student with experience in libraries, archives, and museums. I volunteer with the Department of Library and Information Science at City University London as the department's Community Manager.
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