From ‘Bridging the Digital Gap’ traineeship to FMARA

Ash Ullah joined TNA’s ‘Bridging the Digital Gap’ (BtDG) traineeship, completing it in December 2020. He qualified as a Foundation Member of ARA in March 2021.

What attracted you to the BtDG traineeship?

I enjoy working with digital systems and technology, and was looking for a training opportunity that would incorporate both of these elements. With BtDG I found the prospect of on-the-job training very appealing. The traineeship offered the chance to work on real-life projects and play a part in preserving the nation’s heritage. It also provided structured e-learning programmes to prepare for a career in this rewarding industry. This was a win-win situation and I couldn’t let it pass me by!

What skills, ideas and approaches do you feel you brought to the archives and records sector?

I worked with three other trainees to develop a series of workshops focusing on DIY approaches to personal digital archiving, drawing on the knowledge we gained to present and share cost-effective strategies and tools of archiving techniques.

What motivated you to apply for Foundation Membership? How did your mentor support you with your application?

At first and wasn’t sure if I had enough practical experience or examples that I could use in my application. However, after speaking with both my mentor and the BtDG project manager at TNA, I began to feel more confident about my abilities and that the foundation qualification was certainly achievable for me. I would like to thank both of them for their continual support and patience, as well as for giving me the occasional push to keep on going! 

Now, fast forward several months, I am sat here looking at my FMARA certificate and have this great sense of achievement, feeling it was well worth the effort. Not only that, Foundation membership should enhance my employability within the archive sector, since it demonstrates I have the competencies and behaviours valued by employers

The application process was a great learning experience for me, helping me reflect on how I have progressed during the traineeship. It has also provided me with excellent answers for job applications and interviews. The competencies I chose for my application are as follows;

  • Competency A2 Developing and using policies and procedures (Level 1).
  • Competency A4 Working with people (Level2).
  • Competency A8 Contributing to/understanding internal/external professional environments (Level 1).
  • Competency A9 Developing self and others (Level 2).
  • Competency B3 Organising and describing records (Level 2).
  • Competency C5 Providing (intellectual) access to the content of records and archives on-site and on-line (Level 1).

What advice would you offer to others looking to gain experience in the archives and records sector?

Trying to secure work experience can be difficult due to the competitiveness of the sector, but I think a good place to start would be the ARA website, which has a list of local archives that are seeking volunteers. You can also directly check out the website of the archive in which you are interested and click on the ‘Volunteer’ or ‘Work Experience’ tab, if this is available.

I found that attending events and webinars advertised on Eventbrite was a great way to chat with like-minded individuals, as well as widen my professional network.

Finally, I would recommend subscribing to the Archives-NRA list – which provides a range of opportunities throughout the UK – and learning more about the sector through the email discussion lists for the UK Education and Research communities

Image courtesy of Roz Munn.

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