Thursday, April 21, 2005

Big news - Boston Bound (eventually)

I've been pretty quiet lately because I've been busy trying to plan the rest of my life. The good news is that I think I've finally figured it out -- at least up through next January.

As you may know, I wear at least two hats in my current job: IT Manager and Library/Archives Manager. I like aspects of both things, but I've also become frustrated with the amount of time I spend dealing with day-to-day technical support issues. And the 24x7 support pager is getting really old.

I've also become increasingly interested in the Library and Archives side of my job, to the point of attending the Modern Archives insistute at the National Archives last January. I enjoy working with this stuff, and would like to nudge my career toward it. But given the hybrid nature of my what I do now, it's hard to find time to focus on the stuff that I really enjoy. Furthermore, I don't have the formal training that will open doors to the truly interesting jobs in the field.

So I've decided to go back to school (part or full time TBA) to pursue a MLIS (Masters of Library and Information Science) with an archival concentration. Back in January, I applied to three schools that offered these programs: University of Pittsburgh, University of Maryland, and Simmons College (Boston). Pitt and Maryland are both massive public schools, and while Simmons is a tiny undergraduate women's college in Boston with a well-regarded coed graduate Library school. I have been accepted into all three programs.

After much deliberation and visits to two of the three schools, I have pretty much decided on Simmons. I was very impressed program, and the faculty, staff, and students I met were extremely supportive. The archival program is top notch, featuring internships and teaching partnerships with dozens of institutions in the greater Boston area. Furthermore, the school seems to have a real commitment to self examination and improvement -- all course evaluations are published in binders in the student lounge for others to read. Furthermore, the school shares a brand new, well appointed, building with the graduate school of Social Work, and is in a great location in the heart of Boston -- a place I've already decided I wouldn't mind living (except for the rent -- yikes!).

Simmons also offers a dual degree program leading to an MLS archival concentration/MA in History. I was accepted to this program, and am seriously considering sticking with it. While it would take a bit longer than the MLS alone, it seems like a really interesting way to emphasize that I can do more than IT.

So having made the decision to move to Boston to pursue this at some point, the next big question is when. I go back and forth about how badly I want out of my job. There are days when I'm ready to walk out and never come back, and others when I really enjoy what I'm working on. Lately the former have been more common. So it wouldn't pain me much to leave in a month or two and head up to Boston for the Fall semester. But there are drawbacks to this plan. I have a lot of documentation, organization, and prep work that I need to do so that someone else can take over for me (my "to file" pile alone will likely take me a few weeks to excavate!) And I can use the extra money, given my concerns about expenses during my return to the land of financial aid. But the biggest factor is my recently stepped-up efforts to learn Spanish. I've been taking classes at the Tennessee Foreign Language Institute since January, and have decided that I'd really like to get to the point where I'm more or less fluent in the language. I have a long way to go, but I'm getting there. As part of this effort, I convinced my parents that they should go to Spain on vacation and take me along as a translator. Our original plan was to go sometime in the spring or summer, but as schedules came together it became clear that the only time that would work their usual vacation window in October. So starting school in September would preclude me from doing the Spain trip, something that I might not have the time/money to do once I'm back in school and struggling to make ends meet.

Because of this, I've decided to defer my admission to Simmons until January in order to go to Spain. In fact, I pulled together a conference call today with my Mom in Ocean City (there for a pastoral retreat of all things), my Dad somewhere on I-95 in Virginia, and me in my office in Nashville. After a lot of Internet searching, we went ahead and purchased three tickets from Washington to Madrid leaving on my mom's birthday (Sept. 25) and coming back on my parents' anniversary (Oct. 16.) At least that's what we hope will happen -- ten minutes I ordered the tickets, my dad called back to inform me that he'd just heard on NPR that US Airways was in merger talks with America West. So assuming the new company still goes to Madrid in October...

So to sum up, my rough plan is to stay in my current job until Septemberish, go to Spain and pratice my Spanish, come back and then work for another month or two while simultaneously moving out of my house and somehow arranging for all my stuff to go somewhere in Boston. I don't quite know when I'll actually leave the company, but my best guess is that it will be sometime in November or December. Depends on how long they want to keep me around as a lame duck, and whether I figure out something better to do with my time.

I will simultaneously be looking at potential living arrangments and jobs in Boston. I'm not thrilled about working full time while going to school, but I also have to face the unfortunate reality of the Boston rental market. So I'm probably going to look around for something interesting but not too taxing that I can do while going to school. If I could find a job with a generous tuition reimbursement benefit, so much the better. Hmm....

That's the big news from over this way. Still dotting the I's and crossing the T's, but I finally feel like I have a plan.

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