Jennifer Randles …In Six

My interview with success story Jennifer

Naomi: How did you find your current job?
Jennifer: My new position is actually where I worked as a graduate student assistant while earning my MSIS degree. One of the supervisors left her position to pursue another career, and I applied for it. I was thrilled that the position opened, because I had been very happy in my position before and wanted to continue working there. It took me almost a year after graduation to find a position, because I have a specialized focus (media production & archives) and wanted to stay in my home state of Tennessee. I didn’t relax and take a different approach to this job because I knew the people, position, and department. You never know what is happening behind the scenes! I approached it like any other job, tailored my cover letter and resume, and prepped for the interview as if it were the others I’d experienced. I monitored listservs, sites like INALJ, and specific institutional websites for jobs, but in the end I found the job I wanted in a place close to me.

Naomi: Favorite library you have been to?
Jennifer: My favorite library is the Tennessee State Library & Archives (TSLA), which started me on my journey to archival work & grad school. I went there to research my family’s genealogy, and realized I eventually wanted to work in a place like that. That led me to the next step: how to get there! I volunteered in Public Services At TSLA for a year before I started grad school, and knew I was in the right profession after that. I still love going back there to see the people I know and their resources. I love local history, and the resources that their collections provide are fascinating ways to tell the stories of our communities.

Naomi: Favorite book?
Jennifer: I have a lot of favorite books, and re-read them many times. One related to my interest in media is Mental Hygiene by Ken Smith, which is about the educational film industry of the 1945-1970. I love old educational films, and this insightful look into the films and the studios that produced them is engaging, intelligent, and amusing reading. And it makes me want to watch more films, which is never a bad thing.

Naomi: Favorite thing about libraries/ library technology?
Jennifer: I love the fact that public libraries still exist, for one thing. Libraries & archives are providing resources for the betterment of the human race… and that’s a wonderful thing. I love working with internet-accessible digital collections, as they provide access to amazing collections to people all over the world. Through them, anyone who is interested can learn about the story of each particular collection without having to take the expense of traveling to another place. That said, I don’t think digital collections should replace physical collections, as there are still a lot of people in the U.S. and around the world that don’t have easy internet access. Providing people information where they are is essential to what we do in this profession.

Naomi: Any websites or feeds or blogs we should be following?
Jennifer: A great job-hunting resource for anyone, not just archivists, is That Elusive Archives Job. It is not regularly updated, but more of a series of articles on what the expect during the process. I used her posts to help prepare for interviews, and they have really helped me! Another of my archival favorites is You Ought to Be Ashamed, which calls out inappropriate job listings and analyzes them. It is a good reminder that we need to value ourselves and calls attention to ethical issues of the profession. I also love Indian movies, so I’ll plug Beth Loves Bollywood, Filmi Girl, and Memsaab Story here.

Naomi: Best piece of job hunting advice?
Jennifer: Go to any conferences you can and get involved, especially local organizations! I have found librarians & archivists at the state or regional level to be very generous, welcoming, and willing to help new professionals get a start. If you’re nervous about approaching people, start out small and remind yourself that you’re talking with people interested in the same things you are… that goes well for interviews, too. I also highly recommend volunteering in libraries/archives during school, while job-hunting, and whenever you can. I have been volunteering the entire time I was looking for jobs, met a lot of great contacts, and learned things outside my specialization from these positions.

When going to interviews, try to see each as a learning experience, no matter what the outcome. My first interview was at a huge university where I had to make a presentation, be taken out to dinner, and spend a day meeting with what seemed like a zillion committees. I didn’t get the position, but learned so much that interviews after that were not as nerve-racking. I knew I could survive other interviews after that! I am grateful to them for giving me the chance to learn from that experience. I also recommend that you trust your intuition in the job search process: if a position doesn’t look right or you feel in the interview that something is wrong, then it probably is! You don’t want to work in a place that is toxic or degrading.

I also think you should set aside time each week to go over job sites to check for new postings. I couldn’t do it everyday, and found myself becoming compulsive about checking every few hours. So I limited it to once a week, which helped me keep up to date but not fret over it. Remember that you’re only in control of so much, and you can’t ever know what is exactly in committee’s minds about a search. So don’t take it too personally. Also allow yourself to be upset. You can’t be completely positive all the time, and giving yourself time to grieve about something you hoped would come to fruition is healthy and normal. The right position will come for you; so keep improving your skills and yourself, and it will happen.

Jennifer Randles was just hired as Media Specialist in The Studio, the media production lab at the University of Tennessee’s Hodges Library. She earned her BA in Studio Art (Textiles) from Georgia State University, and graduated with an MSIS from the University of Tennessee in May 2011. Her professional interests include multimedia archives, audiovisual preservation, and digital collections. Her personal interests include Indian and classic Hollywood films, gardening, and learning new languages. Her ePortfolio is available online, and she can also be found on twitter as jlarrrchive.

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