On a Lark and a Laugh, or an Invite From My Alma Mater

An intern in my graduate alma mater’s career office compiled a random list of alumnae names to participate in a roundtable discussion at an upcoming open house weekend. The purpose of this event is to seemingly enlighten and inspire current students in the program I attended.

I would like to think that in the past seven years, the school has gotten a bit… Better at some things. Office things. I would like to think that the list of possible participants was complied from a computer-based content management system. However, based on my admittedly outdated experiences with this institution’s administrative offices, I believe they just took an ancient stack of hand-written forms and complaint letters, chucked them on the floor, and contacted the names on whichever papers were stepped on first.

My name, ladies and gents, was stepped on.

I harbor no delusions that the exhibits I curated at Well Known Non-Profit or the articles I wrote for its archives newsletter are why I was contacted. Nor do I think my occasionally colloquially humorous blog spurred the invite. Nope. They knocked over a stack of paper and picked up the sheets on top of the mess.

(Yes, in all honesty, that is the level of faith I have in this school.)

In having nothing to offer these idealistic young’uns, middle age’uns, and old’uns (this particular program has a lot of career changers and retirees who finally followed their dreams), I declined.

Because all I would represent is a cautionary tale: Entry- and low-level archives and library jobs in NYC pay so little they don’t cover the combined costs of childcare, commuting, and life expenses associated with work. That having a kid in the city of your birth can be a bigger detriment to your career than not having a graduate degree. That actually getting an archives or library job anywhere is a wondrous feat, but getting work in the field after a lengthy hiatus will seem downright impossible due to biases against stay-at-home parents and those who left the economy for any number of reasons.

They don’t need to hear all that. I’m sure they’re scared enough. After all, they’ve got student loans.

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