Keeping a Record

by Sarah Dashow, Senior Assistant, INALJ Newfoundland and Labrador, Nunavut, Northwest TerritoriesYukon

Keeping a Record

Sarah DashowSometimes, it’s just time to move on from whatever job you have. Maybe you are tired of the same old thing, or maybe you just feel like your position is stagnant and you want a job where you can move up. Then, it comes down to writing an updated resume or cover letter based on your last few years at whatever library, archive, or wherever else you may have worked, and suddenly, you can’t remember all those big projects or assignments you completed.

It’s easy when you’ve been in a job for a while to forget some of the things you did back when you first started, especially if it’s been five or more years. For me, I can forget something as recent as a few months ago if I don’t talk about it enough, so I started to take notes.

Ever since I started my co-op position, I’ve taken and kept weekly notes of everything I’ve done. No matter whether it was a small assignment or a big project or a presentation, I made sure to write it down. This was by the suggestion of the senior co-op student that I’ve been working with all term, and it is something I am definitely grateful for.

I have folders for each month and word documents for each week, and each one has dates and days that I can easily reference at any time. Part of this is so I can report to my supervisor during our weekly status meetings what I have worked on each week, but part of it is just for me and my future job search.

Sure it might seem silly and a little redundant at times, especially when as a new co-op student back in May I was mainly completing training sessions and getting to know my way around the job, but when it came time to write my mid-term report and my end-of-term report, I didn’t regret a single thing I wrote down.

It helped me to remember not only what I learned, but how I applied it, and not just vague recollections, but actual specific outcomes, and now that I’ve taken an extension through December, I know I am not going to remember what I did eight months ago when I am back in school in January.

I will be able to have a week-by-week record of every project and everything I learned while completing my co-op, and I know that when it comes time for me to start applying for jobs near the end of my final term, or even looking for part-time jobs when I start back, I’ll be able to talk about my work here more confidently than if I was just trying to recall from my memory.

I’ve done interviews in the past where I’ve been asked those questions that I always dread, such as “When did you deal with a difficult or challenging situation?” or “When was an example of when you worked on a team?,” and I always struggle to come up with concrete examples, because I don’t always remember the specific details of every team project or situation I had to deal with. So my answers, I know, seem sloppy and confused, and I am sure I ramble on and on sometimes.

I know that having this record of everything I’ve done to look back on every time I’m about to prepare for an interview will be invaluable, and this is a simply habit to get into that I will take with me everywhere I go now.