Celebrating success at PRONI: Brett Irwin RMARA

Please give a brief overview of your career so far.

I joined the Public Record Office of Northern Ireland (PRONI) in March 2010 initially for a one year contract working as a repository assistant. This gave me enough of a window into the world of archives and a desire to continue working in the sector. Other opportunities followed, and I was eventually offered a full-time contract as a curatorial officer in February 2013. I then decided to study for the post-graduate diploma in archival management at the University of Dundee and graduated in November 2017. During my time in PRONI, I have worked in the Preservations and Collections Management, Records Management, Cataloguing / Access and Public Services teams in very interesting and diverse roles.

Why do you think professional development is important?

Continuing professional development is important. It provides the opportunity to evaluate your career and experiences, to reflect on the skills and knowledge you have and to understand what you really learned from them. It engages you to proactively seek training opportunities that will enhance your skills.

What do you think are the benefits of having qualified as a Registered Member of the ARA?

Main benefits of the professional qualification would be the professional recognition within the sector and a demonstration of my commitment of continuing to seek out opportunities for professional development. Also being recognised by ARA for demonstrating the highest professional and ethical standards in my archival work is important. My application for Registered Membership is like a professional portfolio, a summary of my achievements, giving an overview of work projects I have been involved with. This helps you think critically about areas you can develop in.

What advice would you offer to others interested in ARA Professional Registration?

I would encourage colleagues apply. The process to qualify helps you to reflect critically on your own work experience and realise that everything can be a learning experience that you can benefit from. The competency framework is a fascinating overview of all the diverse activities within the sector and you will find a level to match your own skills and experience.  You develop your application at your own pace, a refreshing way to learn and develop.