Sunday 30 August 2009
For about a year now I’ve been toying with the idea of continuing my studies, having always wanted to get a Masters degree. After my BA in French, I was actually accepted to a Masters program in the same subject, but decided instead to stay in Europe. It’s a decision I’m glad I made, because in the years since then I’ve come to know myself much better. Ten years ago I thought teaching would be great, but after experience teaching privately, I discovered it’s not something I enjoy as much as I’d imagined. While I would like to teach children in public schools, you have to be a French or EU citizen to even apply for the degree programs. Meanwhile, in the time I’ve been working as a translator and in IT, it’s become increasingly clear that my dream career would be something that combines my loves of literature, languages and computing. This was what I kept in mind over the last year.
Lo and behold, such a dream career does indeed exist: librarian. With today’s information systems, being a librarian now entails having IT knowledge, and a common degree is the Master of Library and Information Science (MLIS). While public librarians may be the first to come to mind, there are other related careers as well: information retrieval specialist / reference librarian, archivist, information subject specialist, knowledge manager, manager of library and information organizations, technical services librarian, Web librarian, and so forth.
I looked at various programs in the US and in France, hoping to stay in France since leaving for more than 3 months would mean losing my long-term resident status and having to start over from zero if I ever returned to the country. But how to finance my studies in France? A friend answered for me: in France, there’s a program funded by the Fongecif for the Congé Individuel de Formation (CIF), or Individual Continuing Education Sabbatical. For continuing education programs of at least 6 months to a maximum of 6 years, on approval of your proposal, the Fongecif can reimburse your employer for your salary, while you do your studies. In other words: you continue to receive your full salary, if it’s less than twice French minimum wage (which is about 1300 euros gross a month), or if it’s more, you get 80 to 90% of your salary. On agreement with your employer, you can return to your company after finishing, or find work elsewhere. There are differing requirements to qualify for the Fongecif depending on your situation; in my case, as a permanent employee (I have a CDI), I need 2 years as an employee, which recently became the case.
As for the program I hope to follow, I jumped out of my chair and started bouncing around my apartment when I discovered that one of the best MLIS programs in France is not only in Lyon, a city I love and miss dearly, but it also offers an option called Systèmes d’Information Multilingues et Ingénierie de la Langue (SIMIL), which translates to Multilingual Information Systems and Language Engineering, with courses in French and English. The school is the Ecole Nationale Supérieure des Sciences de l’Information et des Bibliothèques (ENSSIB), the degree I’m interested in is the MSIB (an MLIS), and they have other programs as well.
The first step is a Fongecif introductory meeting, which I’m going to attend this Thursday. If all goes well, the application process then begins.