What a fine arts degree gives you

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Free time at my office= making life-sized cutouts of Candyland characters.

Since I finished my master’s, the question sometimes (not often, but sometimes) comes up about what undergraduate degree I hold. Well,  I’m the proud owner of a BFA in Creative Writing. I don’t say that sarcastically, either.

I didn’t go into the publishing business or become a journalist because I interned with both and hated them. My job in college, though, was working for a major bookstore chain as a children’s specialist. I didn’t like the retail side of what I did, but I truly loved children’s literature and the feeling that I got when I could point a parent or kid to the perfect book. On top of that, I knew that I wanted my knowledge and talents to be used for the greater good of my community. I wanted to touch people and make a difference. So I went to library school.

Since I started the search for a librarian position, I’ve been interviewed several (dozen) times and have had a lot of questions. One thing that no one ever asks me is how my undergraduate degree serves me in libraryland. It has an enormous impact on me and here’s why.

Getting a degree from any fine arts program means that you’ve been forged by fire.

You’ve mastered your creativity and will and pushed through to complete projects even when you’re having a bad day or feeling completely uninspired. You’ve carried a piece of your heart into a classroom of competitive peers and allowed every single one of them to critique your work. You’ve listened to people tell you that something isn’t your best work, you’ve acknowledged your errors and your room for improvement, and you’ve revised. You’ve stopped yourself from second guessing your gut countless times. You know that you rarely get things right the first time and that genius is actually meticulously cultivated over time through study and practice.
If you can make it through a fine arts program, you come out the other side as a dauntless human being.

A librarian with this kind of experience is powerful because no amount of complaints from a patron will lower your self worth. If a program flops, you try something else, knowing that failure is only measured by when you stop pushing forward. If you don’t have the resources, you make a way using everyone and everything around you. You see things for what they can be instead of what they are and you know how to make that vision a reality through slow, dedicated commitment. You don’t expect things to come easily and you relish the reward of giving it all your might to achieve something you’ve never achieved before.

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