Why should I run for… Early Professional Co-Chair?

REPS is recruiting nominees for new leadership! Over the next few days, the current steering committee will explain what being involved in REPS has meant to them. Do you want to get involved to? Please nominate yourself! The final day to submit your nominations is February 26, 2016.

Previously, we heard about the positions of Student Liaison and Website and Social Media Coordinator.

Next, Casey E. Davis describes her experience serving as REPS’s Early Professional Co-Chair. Learn about the roles of the co-chairs.

Two years ago, I was still a relative newcomer to Boston, having moved to New England from Louisiana in May 2012 for an internship at the State Library. I was very lucky to find a job at WGBH just a few months after moving to Boston. Although the gig gave me an opportunity to work on digital projects for the renowned documentary series American Experience, I very much felt like an outsider to the New England archival community. I wasn’t working in an archive, and I found it very difficult to meet people at NEA events when I felt like I didn’t have anything archive-y to talk about with them. Looking back, I understand it was just a psychological battle I was having with myself — yes, I was an archivist, and I had the MLIS to prove it — but I struggled with imposter syndrome and with getting to know people in the community. For several months, my involvement in NEA could be qualified as nothing more than being a lurker on the listserv.

One day, I was invited to lunch with the four archivists that I knew in New England at the time (thanks, guys!). I had recently noticed on the listserv that the call for REPS nominations had just opened, and this became a topic of discussion over lunch. Two of them being leaders in REPS, they suggested that I run for REPS Early Professional Co-Chair.

Wow, did this take me by surprise! I knew hardly anyone in New England, and I was very unfamiliar with the structure and workings of the New England Archivists. I felt very unqualified and out of my league. But they kept encouraging me to run, suggesting that this would be my opportunity to gain a foothold in the NEA community and expand my network of colleagues. I guess that was persuasion enough. I ran and was elected!

To say that being the Co-Chair of REPS these past two years has given me “a foothold in the NEA community and help[ed] me expand my network of colleagues” would be an understatement. It has done all of these things, but it has also cultivated a confidence in myself that I can do anything professionally if I set my mind to it — a confidence that I have embraced over these last two years that will continue throughout my career.

Together with the REPS leadership, over the past two years we have initiated what I think many would consider two noteworthy NEA events — TourFest and the Back to School Day of Service. (We hope that the new leadership will continue organizing these events!) But I would also argue that my involvement in REPS leadership has advanced even more personal achievements. Since being elected to REPS, I was hired for my dream job, appointed to an NEA committee, and with others in NEA founded the archival organization ProjectARCC.

This professional self-assurance that I’m talking about can obviously be developed without immersing oneself in a professional association right out of graduate school, but for anyone experiencing imposter syndrome like I was, I assure you that the experience of leading REPS will nurture your professional confidence, grow your network, and prepare you not only for future leadership in REPS, but also for your career as an archivist.

And hey, you also get organize some of the most awesome events ever known to the archival world (IMO)!

Casey E. Davis is a Project Manager at the American Archive of Public Broadcasting and holds an MLIS from Louisiana State University.

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