Where are you from or where did you grow up? Care to share a fun fact about your hometown?
I am originally from a small town in Minnesota about 45 minutes south of the Twin Cities called Cannon Falls. Perhaps one of the fun facts about this town is that the small “falls” of the Cannon River were actually damned up until my Sophomore/Junior year of high school. I say “falls” because the actual elevation change wasn’t very large and there were at least three shelves so it was more like a trickle in my mind.
Where did you attend school?
I went to Hamline University in St. Paul, Minnesota for both my undergraduate work and my first master’s degree. From Hamline, I got a bachelor’s in Art History (2007) and a Masters of Nonprofit Management (2014). Between completing my bachelors and starting my master’s program, I did a year of coursework with a local non-degree program called HECUA (or the Higher Education Consortium for Urban Affairs). The courses I took were on “City Arts” and “Writing for Social Change”, both of which looked at the power of community and the use of art as a way to approach a variety of social justice issues.
What is the most interesting job you’ve ever had?
Probably the most interesting job I had, in the field anyhow, would probably have to be cataloging and processing a collection of 40,000+ comic books held at the University of Minnesota, Twin Cities. I am not a super big comic person but everyone that learns about this gets super excited. I will say that finding some of the more independent or lesser known to mainstream society was really fun. Plus some of the artwork was beautiful!
If you were offered a free plane ticket to anywhere in the world, where would you go and why?
This one is really hard for me. If I am looking at new places it would be a coin-toss between Germany, Iceland, or Peru. If I am looking at returning to places I have been before – Italy hands down.
Professional interests or specialties within the field
I am really interested in the Digital Humanities aspect of archives and special collections. I think there is a lot of potential in this area as we as a society continue to evolve to an ever increasing online world and we need to keep up with that as much as possible, of course within the constraints of our collections.
Best advice to a new student or early professional?
Network! Go to annual meetings and conferences as much as you can. If you can present – even better. Also, I highly recommend finding a mentor who you really click with. This might not end up being your assigned advisor and that is okay. I also would encourage people to be open to new experiences. This was not the first career I saw myself getting into but I jumped on a chance for a job I thought sounded fun and now 4 years later I’m in graduate school (again) and I’m learning all this interesting material while meeting professionals in and out of the archives. That is another thing I would also encourage as much as possible is to really embrace collaboration with “unlikely” partners. Not just school projects but work projects – partner with a connected library or another department in your institution or neighborhood. This not only increases the skills brought to a project but also buy-in to the project and what we do in archives.
Tips for getting through job search and/or grad school?
Having made it through grad school before, take it one assignment at a time, ask questions, and allow yourself to take down-time when you get stressed out towards the middle or end of the semester. This includes getting sleep and eating well, plus a positive attitude goes a long way. I would also like to say that working while in grad school can be great because it gives you real world insight into the content you are learning in class. But if you are not working, don’t worry because you will keep learning new things about the field and updated best practices throughout your career. So always be willing to say I don’t know x, y or z, but I am willing to try it out.