Monday, June 01, 2015

Career Perspective from Terry Gross

Many law librarians are looking forward to hearing NPR's Terry Gross as our keynote speaker at the upcoming American Association of Law Libraries conference in Philadelphia this summer. Ms. Gross is exceptional at interviewing people; she has a real gift for eliciting meaningful responses from those she interviews, and I've always admired her.

Recently Ms. Gross was interviewed by Marc Maron on his podcast WTF, and she shared personal stories that have elevated my admiration of her even more. Specifically, Ms. Gross described moments from her early life that shaped her as a person, helped her learn about herself, and developed her professional identity. Give the podcast a listen for the specific stories' details, but here are the life lessons you might consider as you look for work this summer or after you graduate from law school. (Warning: the podcast has a handful of profane/swear words.)

(1) Terry Gross was fired from a teaching job, but she was thrilled because she wasn't good at teaching and she couldn't quit because it was not in her to be a "quitter."
  • Lesson one: it's okay to get fired.
  • Lesson two: it's okay to quit.
  • Lesson three: it's okay to not be good at everything; some things are worth getting better at, and sometimes it's fine to have those bad experiences and truly recognize what it is about you that makes you not so hot at a particular job. Odds are if you aren't "good" at something, you won't like it anyway, so don't just keep trying to like it because you're afraid of quitting.

(2) She got into radio because someone knew there'd be an opening at the college station and she could probably hang out and volunteer for anything that needed to be done.
  • Lesson: if you're interested in a particular line of work, just start doing it. Build your skills in that area. Don't worry about getting paid, and always keep your eyes open for (1) ways to improve, and (2) ways to convert that free experience into paid employment. Ms. Gross's volunteer spot has turned into 40 years on the air, numerous accolades, and a rich, fulfilling career.