Alison Clemens 2016-05-12 11:26:28
Ever wonder how SAA can engage new professionals and students? Or what experienced professionals could share with new archivists about developing their careers? The Committee on Education explored these questions on professional engagement and career development during a brainstorming session in February 2014. We were particularly interested in how students and new professionals might also benefit from receiving information on these topics in a new format—an extensible educational kit. Last summer we sought feedback from SAA members by conducting a survey about building this type of resource. The survey included questions on the following: • level of professional experience; • potential benefit of a resource kit for students and new archives professionals; • what kinds of information would be most helpful to include in the kit; • preferred format of the kit; • other tools that might be developed for students and new professionals; and • any other comments. We distributed the survey to numerous email lists, including the Students and New Archival Professionals (SNAP) Roundtable, Archival Educators Roundtable, Archives Management Roundtable, Archives & Archivists, and SAA student chapters. The Survey Said . . . We received approximately 320 responses from a wide range of individuals. Of these respondents, thirty-five percent were professionals with five or fewer years of experience and twenty-eight percent were professionals with six or more years of experience. Twenty-one percent were current MLIS students, eight percent were MLIS degree holders not employed in archival capacities, four percent identified as “other” professional levels, and three percent were paraprofessionals. Seventy-six percent of respondents indicated that they would benefit from a resource kit. From a checklist of possible material to include in the kit, respondents most frequently identified job-seeking tips, networking advice and guidance, information on graduate and continuing education opportunities, assistance locating resources for funding, and information on the structure of SAA as being of interest. The overwhelming majority of respondents (231 respondents) indicated that a PDF or other document outlining information or resources would be the best format for the kit. Web delivery of this potential resource would be an appropriate and accessible option. Ideas Shared The information gathered through the checklist is invaluable in considering options for the development of resources for students and new professionals. Perhaps even more valuable were the 180 additional comments, which identified a variety of needs, including: • a list identifying in-demand skills not taught in graduate school; • pre-degree information and guidelines; • information on the landscape of the archival field, labor issues, and salary information; • resources for resume creation and review; • interview strategies; • salary negotiation guidance; • professional funding and development resources; and • information on how to get involved in SAA, regional, and allied professional organizations. Although this list captures frequently recurring concerns of students and new professionals, it is by no means exhaustive. Many of these concerns regard information that could be addressed in a resource kit or through SAA communications. Notably, the survey results also indicate that some respondents expressed a need for resources that already exist within SAA, such as mentoring and a job board. This indicates that we may wish to investigate additional options for communicating with our members. Moving Forward The Committee on Education plans to work with other SAA component groups to determine how best to use this data. Thus far we've shared the full survey report with the Students and New Archival Professionals Roundtable and the Membership Committee. We look forward to sharing the data more widely and exploring opportunities for collaboration. We hope that at least some of the resources identified above can come to fruition, either through the work of the Committee on Education or under the auspices of another SAA component group. Thank you to all who responded to the survey. The Committee on Education welcomes your feedback, questions, and requests to view the full survey report—contact Alison Clemens at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Published by Society of American Archivists. View All Articles.