posted October 28, 2014 9:25 AM by Gemma Doyle
A few months ago the New England Archivists sent around an email to the Simmons email list looking for students or early professionals in the archives field to join a mentoring circle, wherein a few seasoned archivists will give career advice to people just starting out. It sounded like a great opportunity to meet people and learn a little bit about how the archives field in New England looks from the other side, once people have successfully gotten their careers in motion. That's something I've been thinking about a lot anyway, as I begin to apply for actual professional jobs.
A mentoring circle, I thought, would help. I'm not sure exactly what I expected, but at the very least I thought it couldn't hurt to have a dialogue about what a career in archives really looked like, especially with informal discussion. I've already proven that I'm no good at conferences, but the small group aspect of this was much more appealing.
We had the first meeting this week, and it was actually fun to talk to people who are at all different points in their student/work lives: me, almost finished my LIS program, someone else who starts her program in January, a handful of people who have finished their LIS programs and are working their first archive-related jobs, and the two seasoned veterans who will be dispensing advice and wisdom, or something like it. Everyone's perspectives are so different - and the archives that people work in are so different - that I think there will be a lot of boisterous discussion down the road. The first meeting was mostly introductions and a bit of discussion about technology and what kinds of skills are needed to deal with digital files and multimedia formats - which makes it sound like a class discussion, kind of, but it really wasn't. This wasn't the typical "you may encounter" theoretical chat, but a strong "I have seen" that is exactly the sort of thing I wanted to hear - and needed to hear, as someone applying for jobs right now.
Our mentoring group, along with the others that formed at the same time, are the test cases to see if mentoring circles are a thing that the NEA wants to continue. So far, I think it has definitely been a success, and I would urge anyone in school or who has graduated recently to consider joining up the next time they look for participants.