Job Search Reflections

Audio at bottom

This coming August 8, will mark the one year anniversary of my interview with the Louisiana State Archives. At first, I thought I was not going to get an interview for my current position. See, I applied for a separate Archives Specialist A position in a different department a couple of months prior to applying for the position that I am currently in. In July of 2015, I received an email to submit a response to the question “Explain how you see this position advancing your professional goals?” This question was emailed to me by my current boss, Doug Harrison. So I submitted my answer and two days or so after received an email from HR saying that the Archives Specialist A position would not be filled at this time. Needless to say, I was not happy but I told myself, like my cousin Katie had told me, they will be another one. So, I emailed Doug Harrison saying I received the email saying the position would not be filled and asked for any feedback. At this point, I figured I had nothing to lose. The next day, I received an email from Doug Harrison saying the email from HR was for a separate position, that my opening is still open, and you are still being considered. At this point, I cheered up, but became worried that I had just shot myself in the foot. But it just so happened that I missed my foot entirely because I got the call for an interview.

Part of a job search is preparing for job interviews. Job interviews can be nerve racking. The hiring manager can ask a wide range of questions. When I interviewed for my current position at the Louisiana State Archives, I was asked if I had explained museum/archive policies and procedures to someone? Upon hearing the question, I had to think real long as well as real hard. I was just about to answer “No, I have not,” but then I remembered I did in fact explain policies and procedures to someone. Before I started working at the Louisiana State Archives, I interned at the National World War II Museum in New Orleans, Louisiana. One day at the Museum, a person came to inspect the vault for pest. The person had a cup of coffee with them, which they carried into the vault and proceeded to place it on the shelf with all of my artifacts. I had to explain to the person that he or she could not put their coffee on the shelf with my artifacts. See the coffee could have spilled and damaged my artifacts. If my artifacts got damaged, I would have needed to call Tom Czekanski, and I did not want to call Tom. Don’t get me wrong, I liked talking to Tom. I just did not want to call and say there is a problem in the vault. So the person walked outside of the vault and put the coffee on the bookshelf with my library books. Again, I had to explain that the coffee could not be placed next to my library books. I told the person that they needed to put the coffee on the desk that had no artifacts or books on it. Since I was the intern and not the employee, I felt funny telling the person that the coffee could not go on the shelf but I had to protect my collection. I did not want to implement the disaster plan. I did not explain policies and procedures to a researcher or a museum guest, but I did have to explain it to the pest control person. That is just as important. Before I left the National World War II Museum, I told Tom this story. He replied “Good job.”

Another question I was asked during the interview was “What kind of materials do you have experience working with?” Thanks to our Collection Manager at the National World War II Museum, Lowell Bassett, I had experience with a range of materials. While I was at the Museum, I handled museum artifacts (such as medals, pins, and flight jackets), photographs, photographic negatives, propaganda leaflets, letters written by soldiers, and books. I also had experience with handling books at the Louisiana State Museum (Old US Mint in the French Quarter) where I took an inventory of the Museum’s library collection.

My interview was on August 8 and Doug told me that he would let me know something after August 19. It was a gut wrenching few weeks. My house was under orders that if the phone call came, I was going to scream at the top of my lungs. So I waited and waited. The 19th came, but no phone call came. A few more days passed and still no phone call. The end of August came, but still no phone call. I figured my prospects of getting the job was slim. On September 1, I was in the kitchen and my phone was on the table in the dinning room. It was three o’ clock in the afternoon. It was sunny and hot outside. My Yorkie and I were the only ones in the house. All of a sudden my phone rings. I noticed right away that it was area code 225 number (which meant that it was Baton Rouge number where the Louisiana State Archives is located). I knew before saying hello, who was on the other line. So, I did not answer like I normally do. Normally, I answer like my Italian cousins. They say “Pronto” when answering the phone. As I expected the other person on the line was Doug Harrison from the Louisiana State Archives. He offered me the job and I did not answer in Italian. I answered yes in English. After saying “Yes,” I thought to myself just get off the phone, you can talk to him later, just get off the phone. Why was I telling myself this? Because the minute I hung up, I screamed in English and Italiano. The year and a half job search was finally over.

Written By: Blake E Relle Archives Specialist A Louisiana State Archives

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