Listen up! Do you care about the future of our profession? If not, read no further. But since you’re tuned into Off the Record, I’m guessing you do care.
Hence this post, with thanks to Rebecca for the nudge.
So: all you experienced archivists out there … your colleagues who are getting started in our profession need you! Do you remember what it was like to be in grad school, or newly on the job market, and wishing you knew how to navigate your way forward? So much to think and fret about …. putting together an effective resumé, determining which jobs to apply for, tailoring a cover letter, doing interview prep, making decisions about how to get involved in professional activities beyond your day job, getting over the possible intimidation factor the first time you attend a professional conference, and on and on. Aaarrgh.
SAA’s mentoring program is your opportunity to give back. Doing it well takes a certain amount of time, but a whole lot less than a lot of other worthwhile professional activities, and with really tangible payoff. Step one: Volunteer. (Your name and email are automatically entered into the form!) Step two: Await an assignment, then get in touch with your new pal with alacrity. Be friendly and welcoming. Ask how you can help, what they’re interested in talking about; nudge them along if they’re not sure what to ask for. Steps 3+: Make it up as you go along. Have a phone chat early in the friendship; email will probably work much of the time from there forward. Exchange messages once a month and offer up some useful advice–or just encouragement–each time you’re in contact. Be friendly and welcoming. Meet up at the Annual Meeting. Buy lunch for your new pal (you can afford it better than s/he can, and it’ll make your mentee loooove you immediately).
Can you honestly say you don’t have time for that? Can you appreciate how much it will mean to your mentorship pal that you, an SAA member who is a really talented and knowledgeable archivist–and perhaps has published in the archival literature (and whose stuff they’ve read in grad school), or speaks at Annual Meetings, or is in a leadership position, or is an SAA Fellow (Listen up, Fellows!! Oh, you’re retired? All the better), or is a reputable participant in Archives listserv discussions, etc etc etc–is eager to take the time to help them launch their career? Can you appreciate that? Admit it. When you were new at all this, you longed for access to the people who clearly know what they’re doing.
Here’s that link for volunteering again. Do it now, or you probably won’t. Inundate us with mentor volunteer forms! Be aware that the program generally has more volunteers who need a mentor than volunteers to be mentors. Hmm. What does that say about all of us experienced archivists out there?
It’s been too many years since I did it myself, but I’m gonna sign up again the minute I’m done with this SAA President gig. Yep, I am.