At this point I’m feeling fairly open about my career possibilities. I do not have a specific, thoroughly planned end goal – I know only that I am interested in preserving and managing historical information, whether it is in the form of an archived document or a museum artifact. Which type of institution I’d prefer to end up at isn’t entirely clear to me, yet. All I know is that I want a chance to work with the tangible vestiges of history and to (hopefully) help pass some of my love for and fascination with history on to other people.
Even in the absence of a carefully constructed career plan, I do have some goals when it comes to skills. For one thing, I obviously want to learn techniques for preserving materials. On a related note, I want to learn something about duplicating material so that even should preservation fail the content will not be lost – digitization is consequently of some interest to me. I want to learn about designing and using information systems that make the material accessible to people and I also want to learn something about getting the word out so that people want to access material. I want to learn more about how both archives and museums are run so that maybe I will actually be able to narrow my career choices. Ultimately, I probably want to learn rather more than the curriculum requires me to before I graduate.
Now that we’re a couple weeks in, I’m starting to have the slightest inkling of some other certification that I might want to pursue – the certificate in archival administration, for example, seems worthwhile, as does eventually taking the test to become a certified archivist. I’m not absolutely certain of any of this yet because, at this point, I have barely got my toes wet when it comes to understanding the scope of this discipline and exactly what part of it I want to focus on, but I do know that I want to do all I can to stay competitive. And besides, wouldn’t it be great to have seven letters after my name? Kris Kniffen, MA, MLIS, CA. Hard not to crack a grin over that arrangement.
To return (on a slightly more serious note) to the question of being competitive, I also now have the goal of engaging in at least one internship or practicum during my time here – both because it’s something I know employers will want to see, and because it’s something I dearly want to do. I can’t wait to start doing real hands on work, and a practicum/internship is definitely an exciting way to do it. It also ties in to another goal, which is to network with other people in the field and maybe even enjoy a little mentoring along the way. I’ve always been shy, so this is going to take some doing – but more and more I feel like getting to know people now, while I’m still in school, would be too great an opportunity to pass up. Even if I do have to suffer a few butterflies.
Ultimately, the goal that is at the heart of all of the others is to stay engaged, stay active, and to stay excited about the future that I’m building for myself. And as far as that one goes… so far, so good.