RMARA: Stand out in a competitive job market

Please give a brief overview of your career so far.

I completed my history degree in 2013 with no idea what I wanted to do. I volunteered for different roles but found that I really loved preserving archives and heritage. I then completed an MSc in Information Management and Preservation from the University of Glasgow in 2015, which involved a wonderful placement at the University of Strathclyde. My first role was based on a private estate archive, before I moved onto Liverpool Hope University, Oxford University, and my current role at the University of London. I have enjoyed each of my roles, all of which have involved cataloguing and developing some brilliant collections.

Why did you apply for Registered Membership?

Professional registration was an opportunity to assess my skills and achievements and think about how I might move forward in my career. The program offers excellent structure, and really prompts one to think carefully and honestly about the career path they are on. I also felt the information provided by ARA was excellent, breaking the process down into 6 easy steps. Both the ARA and my mentor were really communicative and encouraging, making the decision to apply much easier.

Why do you think continuing professional development is important?

Digital preservation is one of many challenges facing the profession. That’s why my application included a competency focussed on preserving born-digital and digitised records and archives. CPD will ensures that individually we meet these challenges by keeping our knowledge and skills up to date. It is important to be aware of our own strengths and weaknesses, and plan ways in which we can address them.

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

I personally feel the biggest benefit is the recognition of my skills and experience by ARA in an increasingly competitive climate. In my experience the job market is highly competitive, so having your skills recognised in this way is immensely helpful. As someone who has interviewed applicants for job vacancies I know the importance of evidencing experience. There are many skills we can describe ourselves as “competent” in, with competent meaning different things to different people. Professional registration offers standardisation and recognition. Registered status gives me confidence in my ability as a professional.

What advice would you offer to others thinking of enrolling and qualifying as a Registered Member?

See professional registration as an opportunity to self-assess and plan a pathway towards your own improvement. My mentor, Louise Ray RMARA, offered me fantastic guidance and I feel I learned so much from our discussions. I would also recommend that you commit to registration in the long-term as the process to qualify promotes CPD and reflective practice.  Also, chose the competencies you will demonstrate carefully. You are free to demonstrate your strongest competencies as well as those you are looking to develop. Finally, do not be afraid to reach out to the ARA or broader community for advice. In my experience there are some wonderfully talented individuals out there very happy to offer a helping hand where possible.

Image courtesy of Sean Macmillan