The most common question I receive when traveling is “Why Nebraska?” In all honesty I had never heard of the University of Nebraska-Lincoln (UNL) before I met, then Associate Dean, Elaine Westbrooks at an ALA Midwinter 2010 event. I suspect what most people really mean when they ask “Why Nebraska?” is “How can a woman from Southern California tolerate life in the Midwest?”
Quality of Life and Good Coworkers are the answer. In these troubled economic times it’s easy to assume I’m just happy to be employed, but, Gallup’s recent research on best places to live in the future ranked Nebraska as fourth out of all fifty states surpassed only by Utah, Minnesota, and Colorado. The campus itself has received honors from the Arbor Day Foundation and, although it’s counterintuitive, we have more sunlight here in winter than Southern California does. It may reach minus 20 for a week or two but we very rarely have enough cloud cover to cause gloomy attitudes. Lincoln and Omaha are only about an hour apart, depending on where you live, and both cities are stops for national tours, heavily support the performing and fine arts, and have a variety of ethnic foods and fine dining options. Did I mention there are plenty of boutique and highend shopping options for those who are interested? With several major medical schools that also do cutting edge research the health care available is very good. Where else is an hour to an hour and a half preliminary visit with a dentist or doctor normal?
What makes people good to work with is definitely subjective. I like having a fair amount of autonomy with the ability to ask for help or advice when needed without being judged for acknowledging that I’m human and can’t save the entire world by myself. As an employee at a large university I enjoy the extra training and support available through the university and the libraries. Since the beginning of the year I’ve participated in several dozen on campus training sessions sponsored by both the library and the university. That sounds like a lot but in reality I am only able to attend about 1/4 of the programs I feel that I should. No organization is perfect but it’s nice to work somewhere that is constantly striving to better itself, and where you feel that they want people to succeed. We all have different things we’re looking for from a job and where we live and these change over time. Organizational fit and having a good supervisor are key to a good work experience so if you’re on the job hunt and able to move give institutions a chance regardless of location. You might find a great match!