Recently I hit that mid-career point when I realized that I'd become competent in doing the things I had long wanted to become good at, but I'm not doing them so much anymore because I'm a manager. And that as a manager there are some new things I want to become good at that I can't quite do yet. It's an awkward position to be in, caught in the mid-career vortex. (Eye of the storm? Black hole? Choose your own metaphor.)
I don't like spinning in this vortex without at least a self-delusion of control.
This calls for some changes, so I've made them. First off, as of a month ago, I'm enrolled in a new master's program, the MS in Business Analytics at GWU. This is a new "data science" program, housed in GW's School of Business, so it's rather business-focused, in the Decision Sciences vein. I've always had an inner businessman waiting to present himself, so that's probably a good fit. I was an Economics major after all, and took several courses over in Michigan's B-School during my two degree programs there.
Among 18 or so students in the inaugural class (with surprisingly good balances of full/part-time, male/female, international), I'm one of the new part-timers. This term we've started with a basic intro course and a healthy dive into statistics. I got a late start because I left town to attend the inaugural code4lib Japan conference, causing me to miss the first week of classes, and now after several weeks of nasty return jet lag I'm behind a bit and struggling to catch up, but I'll get there.
I argued in my application essay that this training would make me a better librarian, and a better manager, and I'm sure that's true. I am also opening my mind that it will open new doors as well, even if I can't yet guess what they might be. We'll just have to take that as it comes.
It was a real treat to attend Code4lib Japan 2013, for more reasons than I can explain, and it's worthy of its own post, or several. One key reason, though, is due to another change I've made: to focus on the MSBA degree, I decided not to travel to any conferences for the next few years. I will be in school almost continuously from now until spring 2015, and the few breaks I get between semesters will require rest, not work travel. So I am missing my favorite conference this year, Access 2013 in St. John's, and kicking myself a little for that, but kicking myself harder to catch up on my course readings. I will probably miss it again next year, along with code4lib 2014 and 2015 and others that might come up.
Something I learned only recently in my career is the importance of focus. You can't accomplish meaningful work well when your attention is scattered across too many projects and too many administrative tasks and too much planning and too much crisis-averting. It doesn't work. You might accomplish meaningful work, but you won't do it well; you can do work well, but it might not be meaningful. Something has to give so that I can refocus my attention on my job and degree program successfully, and that will have to be wider professional involvement for the next few years.
I'll miss these opportunities to connect in person but I will still be online here (this is a good opportunity to write more again, about what I'm learning in the degree program in particular) and on twitter of course. If you find yourself coming to Washington, DC for any reason, I'm always good for a beverage-of-choice or two, provided we can schedule around my classes. Please do look me up!
See you around online-