Name: Joanne Percy
College & Majors/Minors: University of Hertfordshire, Aldenham United Kingdom: BA Literature (Major) Philosophy (Minor) / University of Pittsburgh, Pittsburgh, PA: MLIS - Library & Information Science
Current Location: Spokane, WA
Current Form of Employment: Academic Librarian
Where do you work and what is your current position?
I work at a Catholic/Jesuit university as a Reference Librarian. This involves spending most of my time on the desk answering research questions but I also teach a few classes including a Copyright Basics class as well as some general research and database skills classes. We always encourage faculty to help us team teach with them.
Tell us about how you found your first job, and how you found your current job (if different).
When I first graduated in 1996 with my Bachelor's in Literature, I knew I wanted to teach English abroad in some capacity. So I took a 12 week English as a Second Language (ESL) certificate course in London that allowed me to teach ESL anywhere in the world. I taught very briefly in Prague but then moved to the US and taught a summer class at Georgetown University as well as tutoring on the side. My first library job was administrative but led me to realizing that the library field was where my interests lay. I’ve been working in libraries (both academic and corporate,) since 1998.
What was another writing-related job that was important in your career?
I’m actually taking a 2nd Master’s degree right now in Public History and my BA in Literature is really helping. I have to write blog posts as well as regular papers and book reviews and that former degree has been a life-saver! I’m actually working with a local Urban Planning professor as well as city council members to write up the history of a local neighborhood.
What did you do in college to prepare for your post-grad life?
I spent a lot of time towards the end of my undergrad course looking at ways in which I could travel with my degree. I knew I wanted to travel and I knew teaching would be the easiest way to accomplish both but I was also looking at volunteer work with the Peace Corps.
What is your advice for students and graduates with an English degree?
My advice would be to think big. Don’t assume you’ll land the perfect academic or writing position as soon as you graduate. Think of building up your experience and resume by traveling. There are plenty of volunteer opportunities that will pay your expenses and a small stipend as you help communities in other countries. This all brings new experiences and stories to share.