Dedicated resources

From my time working in libraries, I know how important it is to have online resources that have been dedicated to a particular type of information. People don’t want to have to work hard to find information. This includes having to heavily filter down results and work out which resource would actually be of value.

This is why, for those seriously looking for information, normal search engines don’t work. However, I also think it’s important to not get over zealous when creating a platform for people to search for information.

Having come across quite a few library catalogues and portal sites as well as job sites and the research part of a company website, I can see that there are differences in how information is tagged and thus what aspect of a document is searchable. Too little and you can have too much information to sift through, too much and you could miss information.

Getting the right balance can be tricky and it all depends on who the audience is. What kind of information do they need? How do they search for information? What keywords would they use?

I came across a nice portal site that allows you to search with keywords and then further filter by a list of other tags associated with the results (Careers Tagged). However, it only allows the results found, to be filtered down once. The site also allowed you to view the tags associated with each result, so you can search for results within a different tag.

Its a nice portal site that doesn’t make searching for information too complicated as each result would have been curated before being added. However, depending on what is being sought, there is a particular logical order that those not trained in searching for information, may not follow.

It is key to know who the users of the site will be and understand how they think when they are searching for information. However, it is also important that the users do not fully dictate how items are tagged. Thus, training your users or having a simple guide may aid users in fully understanding how they can find information using a particular information resource.

Plastic Fishing

Working in the corporate world can get a bit tiresome and make you feel like business and money is the only thing that drives the world. But due to the Corporate Sustainability team, there are opportunities to give back and be part of a wider community.

Last Friday, I was invited to participate in ‘Plastic Fishing’ which is run by Hubbub and Canary Wharf College. They use a boat made almost entirely of recycled plastic to go on the river around London’s Docklands to fish out plastic from the river.

What’s great about this scheme is that not only do you get to help clean up the river, by fishing out all sorts of things, proceeds go to a good cause (helping disadvantaged families arrange trips for their children), the recyclable plastic goes towards building another boat and more importantly, it helps decrease the amount of plastics that will end up in our seas and oceans.

What’s also really great, is that not only corporates can participate, anyone can. It’s also a really great way for children to get involved with doing something for the environment that actually has an impact.

Here are a few photos from the trip:

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New Goals

I have just completed an online TEFL course, which means that again, I am thinking about what I want to do next. So, not only in my career, do I worry about where I’m going to go and what I’m going to do, but my personal my life is also full of worry.

I am always trying to grow as a person and I am always trying to gain a new skill. Completing the TEFL course was latest one, before that it was learning Korean. I’ve also tried bouldering and coding within the last 2 years.

Right now, I’ve decided to continue with Japanese. I took a huge break from learning the language, as I was in a rut. The original reasons I had for learning Japanese were practically gone, so I couldn’t find the motivation to keep going. But, I really do love the language and I hope to be able to read a novel written in Japanese one day.

So, I am back on the Japanese studying train. I’m starting at the beginning, refreshing my grammar and vocabulary, taking it very slow. I often got frustrated with myself for not knowing or being able to remember or understand something, or not being able to say what I want to say.

I have to remember that Japanese is a hard language and I do have to be at it practically everyday in order to retain the information. Also, since I am self-teaching, I have to find ways to make it interesting and fun in order to keep motivated. But also remember to take time away from the language in order for my brain to digest the information and not get overloaded.

Knowing what you want can also drive you insane

When I left university, I had no idea what I wanted to do. I knew I definitely did not want to work in psychology or mathematics. One was too hard and the other just didn’t interest me at all. So, as these were the subjects I had studied, where was I going to go from there?

Well, for a few years, nowhere, really. I was working in retail, figuring out what I wanted to do. Studying Japanese on and off, but not doing much else. But magically, I found a course that I thought seemed really interesting, which speared me on to getting the job I am currently in with only a month left to go.

However, even when I got this role, I was still unsure of what I wanted to do. As I stated in a previous post, I knew that I wasn’t attracted to the traditional library roles, and any research roles out there involved a lot of primary research.

So it was hard figuring out what it is. I actually wanted to do, since it wasn’t appearing in my job searches.

However, after being in my current role for a while now, I have come closer to what it is I want to do. I have to say that this role has given me so many opportunities to explore who I am, what I like doing and develop my skillset.

But I’m still in the same position when it comes to finding roles. The perfect/near perfect role doesn’t seem to exist. Even a role that I could work towards.

Maybe I’m being too picky. Maybe the right role doesn’t exist. Maybe I should accept that I have to compromise.

I refuse to accept it though. I do believe that I can either find or create the role that’s right for me. My previous post exactly illustrates where I want to go and what I want to achieve. And whilst I have this idea in my mind, it will never go away. It will roam around in my head and I will never be happy until I at least try to fulfil it.

So, let’s see what changes in a year.

Starting my own business: Thoughts

As I think more and more about starting my own business, the more I think “I have no idea how I’m gonna do this”.

I believe I have a specialist skill, as I am confident that I’m really good at finding information. In fact, I really enjoy finding information for people. I get buzz out of looking all over google and finding a gem that others may not have found. In addition, as I am trained in this area, I have the skills to find information quickly, find information that is relevant and also provide a concise overview of what I’ve found.

But is this skill needed?

I can say for sure that a lot of people can’t be bothered to take the time to search for information. I see it everyday at work for minuscule things that would take 2 seconds. But would I be able to tap into a need and earn a living from it? Are there people who would be willing to hire me to search for information? And if so, what kind of people would they be?

Those who work within a business, would have an information team available. High flyers would have a PA and a team around them. Those who really need information, for example, those from backgrounds similar to mine, would they have the means to hire someone to help them.

Ideally, I’d want to work for people who don’t have time to perform research and don’t have access to an Information person/team and for those from backgrounds similar to mine who need help in elevating themselves.

For example:

  • if someone was looking for a particular kind of job/role, I could find out what kinds of job titles are used, what industries are hiring for this particular role and what agencies specialise in sourcing for that role
  • I could help someone find out what courses are available to study a particular thing, where they are available and what people have said about the course
  • I could search within a particular industry, the market players, the market itself and the trends
  • I could find out what magazine, newspapers or websites cover a particular industry
  • I could search for technological advances in a particular area/topic or region
  • Etc etc etc

There is so much information out there, that is publicly available, but can be hard to source, if you don’t know how to look. This can be overwhelming and painstaking, so I hope to decrease the burden of sifting through all that’s out there, by providing a service that will enable people to have information rather than having to search for it themselves.

Sometimes, I imagine working in an information bureau where people would come for information. They’d be a counter and people would come in and tell us what they need and there’d be a team working in the back on their computers.

Thoughts on my career

I think I’ve decided that my life long goal is to organise the Internet and work closely with my clients. I want to be able to categorise a variety of different websites so that I know where to find all kinds of information. I want to be a human google with knowledge and added information that I can use to find the information that my clients need.

Having worked in a bank and various libraries, I have some understanding of the kinds of information a worker in a bank or law firm, a student or someone from the public need. I want to increase my knowledge in this area in order to help all kinds of individuals find the information they need.

The only way to do this is to work in a variety of different settings. Working in different settings will allow me to gain an insight into what kinds of information different individuals need and are searching for. This way I can tailor my approach to to the individual.

However, I have found it difficult finding a research role that would allow me to fully utilise the skills I have, as well as have frequent exposure to the people I would be helping.

My current role has thankfully allowed me to explore my research skills and thus develop them so that I am better at searching for information. I have also been able to explore ways in which I can help market our services to our clients.

However, I don’t get to regularly speak to or have conversations with my clients about their needs and wants – what areas they wish to explore or where they want to go in the future. The only time I get to do that is when I am meeting the new starters, who generally don’t have a say in where their department is heading.

I think I definitely want to have clients I can work really closely with, as this will enable me to help in the ways that they as an individual need. But I definitely want to have the freedom to explore and find out what is out there, organise it and share it.

Don’t be afraid to ask questions

Asking questions can be very daunting on any occasion. Whether you’re in a new role, on a course, at an event or travelling in a different country. Working up the courage can be scary, especially for an introvert like me who has feared social interaction for most of my life and who is scared of asking a stupid question.

However, I have found that life is so much easier when you ask. Instead of struggling for ages to find the answer, someone else can save you the time and the needless effort you spent scouring the internet or wandering around in circles.

Within my role, I’ve had quite a few requests where I literally have been clueless. In particular, as I work within a bank (with no previous bank or financial institution experience) many of the terms were new to me (still are). This meant that I had to search for what the term meant and then figure out how to find the information and/or data associated with it.

I have also had requests where I have had to fill out a form in order to get information, but have not known which form to fill out and what information to put in; or provide a specific type of information on a company where I haven’t been given the full name or jurisdiction or which document would be able to provide the information needed.

I know that if I had struggled in silence, I would have frequently provided and requested the wrong information, which would have wasted a lot of time and money. Thus asking the questions that need to be asked has become a necessary part of my role and has become easier to do in life.

So, I regularly talk to my account relationship managers, use the chat feature provided by some subscriptions, fill out contact forms on websites and email contacts, asking the question. In addition, I go back to my clients asking for confirmation on the details of their request and my manager is always there when I need her.

The great thing about asking questions is that it doesn’t only help with the current request or predicament, but also provides you with information you can use in the future. It helps you increase your knowledge in different areas that you can then pass on to others.

However, I can’t just ask the question and then think that I’ll remember the answer for next time. I forget almost everything if only told to me once. And when I am constantly working on a variety of different requests at one time, it is easy for things to slip my mind.

So, from the beginning, I wrote things down – well typed up everything into an Excel Spreadsheet (I really love Excel). This included the different types of requests I get as well as where to look and the other terms people use when asking for that information. I can then always go back and refer to the ‘guide’ if I ever am unsure, but know that I’ve had a similar request in the past.

So, never be afraid to ask questions, you will always gain something from it. And never forget to write things down, you won’t remember everything.