That’s not my job

That’s a real snail I came across on a walk. I’ve never seen a snail in a shell before, let alone watched it slither along safely across the walkway. So peaceful, and yet super slow. Maybe something there to learn…

Tonight may well be my last time working my second job, but every time I show up to help people it feels so good and I want to return.

The evening’s questions had nothing to do with my actual work, which is one of the most wonderful parts of the work I do. Librarians aren’t there just to answer research questions, or find a book on the shelf. Oftentimes, I feel like we are the cheerleaders to help others keep learning and keep striving to improve their lives or their choices. We do it through resources and our depth of knowledge on thousands of subjects.

Always Keep Learning

Tonight was a different night in that I had a student come to me panicked about returning to school after years off. She wasn’t sure what she got herself into and initially asked to find out about tutors. My role isn’t as a tutor, but I gave her the resources to find them when they return the next day.

After asking more questions about her plans, I found myself cheering her on and supporting her with advice that helped me through school. I encouraged her to keep trying, push through the fear, and make it happen. It’s never to late to learn, work hard, and reach for a dream.

I even gave her a link to my blog to reach out for any further help. Say hello if you’ve stopped by!


Another student showed up shortly thereafter asking if I could read her intro research paper paragraph. Again, not a direct function of my work’s description and something I could’ve easily suggested she go to the writing lab for help with. Instead, I provided her with information to seek help, but happily offered to help her with her introduction.

After reading it and suggesting a few changes to more distinctly create her thesis, she was thrilled. She had a roadmap. Then I asked her more about her paper, resources and about creating notecards to help her knock this beast out the rest of the way.

Notecards have fallen by the wayside to technology, but man, every time I explain how to use them students are impressed at how easy a paper comes together with that method. Online notecards just don’t do it the same way. I wrote so many papers via handwritten notecards, and each paper came together effortlessly.

I taught her the step-by-step method of writing notecards and she was excited to use that method. I felt great teaching her something new that I believe she’ll get a lot of mileage out of.

But that’s “not my job…”

With all that said, I could’ve easily told both ladies that these areas aren’t technically my job. My role is to provide online or printed resources, help them find information, citing those resources and specifically formatting a paper. I could’ve defaulted to “it isn’t my job,” and sent them to those who’s job it is. As usual I always ask just a few extra questions and am able to help far more than they originally came for.

Many librarians I know do this. We don’t stop at what’s in the job description. We’re natural linchpins.

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It’s more about helping people however they come to us for help. Sometimes it pays to take that extra few minutes to help others beyond what is your job. I can say from experience it’s added new relationships to my life and also provided me a sense of true service to others.

Give a Little Extra

Next time someone asks you for help, inquire a little more and see what else you can help them with. Chris and I do this all the time with our hobbies. Not everyone will want that extra help, but you may come to find how appreciated it is every extra inch you go for another person.

Keep Learning

I am literally learning every minute of the day and with that I share it with others. I should make more podcasts about topics I just absorb for personal interest and move on with the knowledge.

A few things I taught others this week: opening a Roth IRA, expense ratios, composting, safely repotting plants, managing strawberry plants for higher yields, the university connections with this college I work at to continue learning, connecting people to other people, updating websites, starting a blog, recording audio, baking gluten-free, managing life without eggs (hint: aquafaba) and so many more things in just a few days this week!

So, I’m here to help however I can. That’s why I write, podcast, and do my daily work. Being in service to others can be a lot at times, but it’s very well worth it in the end.

Do you stick with the “it’s not in my job description” or do you default to offering extra as your main mode of operation? Naturally, I enjoy helping however I can. Sometimes that means it’s draining for me, but it always comes back around in life. Just don’t ask me for money… 😉

2 thoughts on “That’s not my job

  1. Great post, the not my job attitude is not only unkind but it is also severely career limiting. My theory was the volunteer for everything, especially if no one wanted to do it and that served me very well. If a leader like Jesus washed his team’s feet to show them what leading looks like then who was I to ever think I was above a task that needed doing? The fringe benefit is you learn how to do everything and become a Jack of all trades just like Kate!

  2. Thanks Steveark! Yes, while it can be too much at times to say “yes” to everything, I think using it as a mode of default when it comes to truly helping others offers such a benefit to learning so much more!

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