Highlights from Archive Professionals in Non-Traditional Archival Settings Panel

02 Dec 2014 9:23 AM | Deleted user

On Thursday, November 20th, the Chicago Area Archivists Professional Development Committee sponsored a panel discussion entitled “Archive Professionals in Non-Traditional Archival Settings” with panelists Laura Fu, who is the Digital Content Manager at Sears Holdings Corporation; Lauren Breyer, who is the Archivist at State Farm Mutual Automobile Insurance Company; Allan Berry, who is the Web Application Developer at the UIC Library with the Chicago Collections Consortium; Andrew Altepeter, who is the Information Governance Analyst at Motorola Solutions, Inc.; and was moderated very well by Drew Davis, who is the Historical Resources Specialist at Motorola Solutions Heritage Services & Archives as well as a CAA steering committee and professional development subcommittee member.

Each panelist provided a description of their career paths, discussed what they do in their current positions, and tips for individuals who are looking to either change careers or entering the job market. Some of the important tips from the panel included

For Job Seekers

  • Job applicants need to able to translate their skills
  • Be brave and take risks. Andrew talked about this in relation to moving from an public history background to information governance position. 
  • Don’t be afraid to create your own position. An institution may not even know they need an archivist or a records manager until you point it out to them. Therefore, you have to package your skill set and tell a story about how your skills will fit in with their business.
  • Call and/or contact people who have positions that you want. This means that if you are traveling to a new city, reach out the library, museum, or archives there to schedule a visit.

For All Employees

  • Advocate for your users to the administrative stakeholders in doing so you create advocates for your unit, which is useful when there are issues or budgetary cuts.
  • The parent institution/company drives the nature of your own business therefore, see how your unit can benefit the overall mission of the institution and look for ways you can add value to another unit (two examples provided by the panelists were: The old Sears catalog photos or the old State Farm photos)
  • “Always be kind, be gracious.  Never burn your bridges.” This will refers to the fact that the profession is small and you never know when you may need to call upon someone for assistance. These can be people who are your personal advocates or may be the housekeeping staff of your institution who know where the clean-up supplies are when you have a disaster.
  • Don’t doubt the role of soft skills in the hiring process, one can teach technical skills, but soft skills are to teach. These soft skills include: writing, communication, research, learning agility, accountability, critical thinking skills, building relationships, openness, friendliness, etc. (see here for a longer list https://bemycareercoach.com/soft-skills/list-soft-skills.html)
  • Understand the lens that you view through and then look at your work critically through your lens.  Look at it like a camp site: you leave it better than you found it. 
  • Challenge your own perspective and understand the difference between the ideal and the reality. 
  • Be sure to keep current by reading professional journals, attend conferences, take courses/workshops either online or in person. A couple of good online possibilities include Lynda.com and Massive Open Online Courses (MOOCs).

Places to look for positions

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