RMARA: an invaluable experience we can use to evaluate our career so far, and where we want our career to take us next

Please give a brief overview of your career so far.

My career in archives and records management began with a summer placement at the Lothian Health Services Archive. As a student, it was a great first step in learning if a career in records was something I wanted as a future career. Following on from this introduction to working in archives, I applied for a traineeship at the University of Glasgow Archives. This provided me with a fantastic year of practical experience as a Records Centre Assistant at the university, and as Archives Assistant at NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde Archives. I gained further cataloguing experience volunteering whilst studying a Masters qualification at UCL, and in my summer before graduating I was employed as a temporary Records Management Assistant at Barts Health NHS Trust. Following graduation, I entered the exciting world of business archives and became Assistant Archivist at the Bank of England Archive.

Why did you apply for Registered Membership?

Five years after I graduated from UCL, applying for Registered Membership seemed like a great stepping-stone in progressing in my career. When I began reviewing possible evidence for my application I realised just how much practical experience I had gained in those five years; in fact, there was so much to consider that it was becoming hard to remember when and what I had done! Additionally, I thought the process would help to identify and address any gaps in my knowledge.

Why do you think continuing professional development is important?

Our profession doesn’t look anything like the world that Jenkinson worked in, and neither will the archives of 2050 look the same as today. The nature of records, information and documents is constantly evolving, as are we. Continued professional development provides a mechanism for us to ensure we maintain a high bench-mark for what we want our profession to look like and collectively achieve. All of us want the career path of archives and records management to be as appealing, inclusive, progressive and dynamic as possible, and having a programme supporting our development as professionals is an important part of achieving this.

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

Developing your application can seem like a lot of work, but it is an invaluable experience we can use to evaluate our career so far, and where we want our career to take us next. Aiming to become a Registered Member is also a way of challenging yourself, gaining new skills and increasing your professional knowledge. The scheme’s competency framework provides a whole swathe of areas which you can consider addressing as part of your application from digital preservation, to professional volunteering, and managing performance and impact. We are always evolving and learning new skills and sometimes we don’t even realise!

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

Do it! As well as the benefit of now having a complete portfolio of my work from over the last 5-8 years, it has really boosted my confidence as an archivist. In all honesty, this wasn’t an outcome I was expecting but it has been a really positive and reassuring feeling to know that my work has met the standards of our professional body and my peers. One piece of advice which came up time and time again from colleagues was to always keep a record of my challenges and achievements. This was a brilliant tip as it meant that when I came to applying I already had a back-catalogue of pieces of work I could refer to for inspiration. It certainly helped to make the application process a little easier a few years down the line when I was ready to apply!

Image © Bank of England  

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