Revolt against complacency: Combatting hurdles in professionalism

Raising critical questions about the future of our profession and the current climate for new professionals, this session offered numerous points of views and perspectives about entering the archives field.

Several take-aways included:

  1. Consider the benefits of the informational interview. Think about what skills or experiences you’d like to gain, and then seek out professionals with those skill or experiences, and ask to talk with them.
  2. How might relocating open up job opportunities for you?
  3. Apps and websites like Coursera, Duolingo, Workflowy, Elevate, and Codeacademy can help you to continue your professional development and education, with little to no cost.
  4. For those who find themselves working in public libraries, while waiting for that archives job, how could those jobs in public libraries provide you with opportunities to develop your cataloging, events programming, exhibit work, and web development? These can easily translate to archival work.
  5. As you enter the profession and become an advocate, consider how to build relationships with key stakeholders. Go beyond the elevator speech to articulate what makes your work relevant and important to the other person. 
  6. Reflect about your feelings about imposter syndrome. How can you introduce your skills and expertise to your organization, while leaving yourself open to articulating what skills or experiences you don’t have yet?
  7. Although you may find yourself in a narrowly defined project position, how can you seek opportunities to become professionally engaged in local, regional or national archives associations?

There were a few ideas presented that aren’t part of my professional experience. As a hiring manager, I would caution new professionals against applying for all possible jobs. It can be very clear in a cover letter or cv that you’re casting a wide net, and haven’t given much thought about how you can help our institution. That said, think broadly about how your experiences might map to the skills required in a job description.

Although it can take time to learn your new or first job, don’t let that stop you from asking questions, raising important issues, or submitting new ideas. You were hired for a reason, and your colleagues will likely welcome what you have to say.

As you might expect, the room was filled mostly with new professionals or students (one of the speakers asked for a show of hands). I’d love to see more experienced archivists taking the time to attend session like this, as the issues raised concern us all.

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