What Surprised You The Most About Your Profession?

Whether you are new to your profession, or are about to retire, there were some expectations you had when you came in that turned out to not be as you thought it would be. For example, I thought that working in a Law School as a law librarian would be free of politics… only to quickly realize that politics ran wild. So, I left that to join a court library… only to find out that it was even more political (the fact that I worked for elected officials should have clued me in.) Luckily, I’m now in BigLaw… oh crap…

Well, enough of my experiences, let’s hear from a number of other that have their own perpectives on what happened when they entered their professions.

Law Librarian Perspective
The Flexibility of My Profession
Pat Orr
Throughout my 30 year career I’ve worked in: high school and elementary school libraries, special / research libraries; academic libraries, and now a law firm library. I’ve had plenty of surprises but two stand out: how flexible my MLS degree from the University of Michigan has been, and that library users share the same basic needs.

Virtual Assistant Perspective
That no one would know what I do 10 years later.
Andrea Cannavina
I have been a Virtual Assistant for almost 10 years. I thought by now everyone would know what a VA is and what we do. Best of both worlds really – someone to help; but no need to provide guaranteed work, physical space, benefits or even coffee.

Law Librarian Perspective
Our cutting edginess
Jeremy Sullivan
I started in the field in 1995, when we were all neck-deep in CD-ROMs and just starting to figure out what this internet thing was all about. In the ensuing 15 years I have been amazed and quite proud at my profession’s ability to identify, evaluate, utilize, champion and even enhance new technologies as they are introduced. There’s this old saw that law firms are late adopters, reluctant to introduce too much change too quickly. However, I have seen countless examples where law librarians have spear-headed new technology initiatives (small-scale as well as firmwide) that have improved legal research AND business efficiencies. True, sometimes we can push a little too hard for a questionable technology – I’m still not convinced that the managing partner will take me more seriously if I have the cartoon, fairy wing-adorned version of me deliver his caselaw. Yet I still think even that points to our eternal desire to innovate for the sake of providing continued exemplary service.

AFA Perspective
Lack of Knowledge About Firm Economics
Toby Brown
Two related items:
1) That law firm partners, who are owners, know so little about the economics of their firm and the industry.
2) That partners don’t seem to care much about the economics of their firm and the industry.
In their defense, until recently their industry was doing so well, why would they ask. But still …

Law Librarian Perspective
Most surprising? Law Students are Fabulous
Cindy Bassett
I have worked in a law school for 3 1/2 years now. I do not have a JD so I didn’t have the law school experience to change my perceptions of what I thought law students would be like. I expected the students to be wealthy, to feel entitled, to be rude, and generally bratty. I was shocked to find them to be extremely polite, funny, humble, and grateful for the help and instruction provided by the librarians. So much for stereotypes!

Lawyer Perspective
Solo Surprises
Chris Hill
When I first got out of law school, I never would have thought I’d end up a construction attorney, much less in solo practice. Through a longer story than this short post can speak of, I started representing contractors and subcontractors and realized I love to do it. I like my clients, and that makes the work worthwhile.
Recently (July 2010) I went solo and was surprised by the positive reaction. I have non0clients letting me know that they’re glad I’m now solo and will be using my services and clients glad to see me on my own. This has been quite a revelation.

Academic Support Professional Perspective
Youth and Technology
Chelsea Baldwin
I assumed that our younger students would be more technology proficient because they’ve grown up with the technology. Instead, they are the students who need the most instruction related to technology while our older students and our faculty are constantly impressing me with the tips and tricks they’ve discovered to use technology in more productive ways.

Knowledge Management
How good are KM people at sharing knowledge?
Mark Gould
I have learned a lot from many great KMers, and they are obviously exempt from this criticism. However, it always puzzles me how cagey many other KM people are about sharing their experiences or insights for the benefit of others.
In part (as with much else) there is a bit of concern about “what’s in it for me?” But I think there is more to it than that. KM tends to be a lonely job, and one can usually learn more from people outside one’s own organisation than from within — that means you have to give as well as take. I think, however, that there is a conservative streak in law firm KMers, which makes them reluctant to expose what they do outside the firm and also reluctant to engage with new technologies (which is where much great knowledge sharing takes place). Conferences and face-to-face meetings are a different matter — I have found people to be much more open in those protected environments.

Law Librarian Perpsective
Good morning and Welcome to Yesterday
Megan Wiseman
In library school, we often talked of how fast technology was changing and how one of the perks about our profession was being on top of such changes. (…how successful we are at that was a different discussion…) Us soon-to-be-librarians sat in lecture and nodded along, talking blogs and Library 2.0 like the geeks we were. Then I hit the real world and *wham* — did I see first-hand how technology is taking off!! Every day I walk into work and everything that was new yesterday is already old news.
Perspective: I did not know what a blog was my first year of grad school. Westlaw has had, I believe, three major interface changes since I first learned it my second year in library school. Smart phones and e-readers, enough said. The hours, the budgeting, the patrons, the fun of it all — pretty much exactly as I expected. The speed of tech changes and making the right calls? — A surprise. Time to get my geek on (and perhaps get some 3-D glasses for my tv.)

Information Technology Perspective
Scott Preston
While there have been many surprises in my profession, the one that surprised me the most is the level of collegiality between law firm IT departments. This is often a point of pride for me. If you have attended an ILTA conference you should know what I’m talking about.

Internet Marketing Perspective
Ground for Creativity
Lisa Salazar

I am learn something new every day. Working with such bright and innovative people in such a new space; we are constantly pushing the envelope to dream up new solutions, new work-arounds, new methods. The web provides all the ability to create and dream up new ways to approach old problems. But the best surprise? Is who teaches me; where I get my best lessons. My sources come from the most unexpected places …

Next Week’s Elephant Post:

How Is Social Media Changing Your Profession… Or, How Should It Be Changing Your Profession?

We’re big fans of social media here at 3 Geeks… blogging, twittering, LinkedIn’ing… all of that. Whether it is making connections, finding information on obscure topics, or keeping up with the latest rumors, social media is one of the best communications tools available today. Let us know how it has helped you in your profession, or how you think it will help someday in the future.

As we did last week, we are making this easy (on my at least) by creating a form which anyone can add their answer.
Go and fill out this form to add your answer.
To see other perspectives, you can go here to see their answers.