What’s it like to be a trainee? Miten Mistry, Graduate Trainee Digital Archivist 2017-2019

Before starting this traineeship I had very little knowledge or experience of the archives and heritage sector. I have a science background and completed my PhD in Pre-clinical dentistry in 2016. As soon as I saw this role advertised I became immediately intrigued. After reading about the archives sector and what this role entailed I knew that this was the job for me; the more I found out about it the more I wanted to do it. I thought having little experience of archiving and this sector would make it difficult for me to get into at this later stage of my career as everyone else I spoke to seemed to have done a lot more! I undertook some short work experience at the Bodleian Library and also volunteered at De Montfort University Archives and after that it was clear in my mind that this was definitely what I wanted to do as it was so enjoyable and the satisfaction you get from your work is immense.

Learning about archiving from the Bodleian library has been a fantastic experience so far and I don’t feel that the lack of prior experience has hindered me in anyway. Having six other trainees starting at the same time has been a really nice experience as we all have different backgrounds and interests and we have been able to learn from and support each another. There is so much going on within the library and everyone is incredibly friendly and willing to help so it fosters a great working and learning atmosphere. This has allowed me to settle into the role and increase my understanding about all things archive related incredibly quickly.

After the initial training, it was great to be able to get hands on with my own projects as I knew that I was making an immediate contribution from a very early stage which was incredibly satisfying. As a trainee, currently I spend my time between Web archiving, XML work on re-coding catalogues from EAD.1 to EAD.2, collection management, working in the reading rooms and part time distance learning. This variety is fantastic as it is developing my skills in a broad range of areas and has allowed me to see how a library and archive of the Bodleian’s size and stature operates.

It is a lot of work and you have to manage your time well however we receive great support and knowing that this is a truly unique and valuable experience that will give us a solid platform to build a career within the archiving profession makes it worth it.

I’m really looking forward to developing my skills and experience as a digital archivist over the coming years at one of the best libraries in the world. I feel incredibly fortunate to be working in the place that I do, doing the work that I do and learning from colleagues that have great experience, passion and pride for their work.

Miten Mistry, May 2017

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