Adriana Flores is one of our participants in our Year in the Life series, which follows new archivists in their first professional position. We will be following Adriana for a year. You can read her previous posts here.
I’m coming up on my two-year anniversary as a full-time staff member at Boston University, and with that comes a good deal of reflection. One of my favorite parts of working at the Howard Gotlieb Archival Research Center is the close-knit office environment. I know that many people develop close relationships with their colleagues, but I feel very lucky to have met my amazing group of coworkers at Boston University. Thus, I’m dedicating this post to them and reflecting a bit about the importance of building strong office relationships.
I first started working at Boston University as an intern with the SAA/ARL Mosaic Fellowship program. As a fellow you are placed in an archival internship and I was lucky enough to get a spot at the Howard Gotlieb Center. As an intern I was provided with an internship supervisor (Sarah Pratt), an internship mentor (Ryan Hendrickson), and an internship coordinator (Sean Noel, our Associate Director). This team provided me with institutional knowledge and archival guidance as I made my way through my first year of graduate school. As an intern I was working at HGARC about 20-25 hours a week so I began building strong relationships with not only my internship team but also the other staff members in our office. I’m a fairly social person so it was never a question that I would try to build relationships in my new office setting, but I had no idea how valuable they would become.
Halfway through my internship, one of the archivists in our office left for another job. My supervisor and my current co-worker Jane were both promoted to their current positions, leaving the entry-level archivist position open. I never dreamed that I would be considered for the position (especially since I was only halfway through with my graduate degree), but the relationships I had built in our office seriously paid off. My supervisor, Sarah, was my champion and strongly urged that I be considered for the position. I did not have my degree, but I was well versed in the processing workflow, had established myself as a quick learner, and was on great terms with my internship team. Although I had not worked with everyone in the office, the people I had interacted with spoke highly of me and their confidence went a long way. I never would have guessed that my yearlong internship would end with a job offer, but due to the strong relationships I had built I received an opportunity that few others get.
Since being hired in May of 2015, I have grown closer and closer with my colleagues. As an early professional who is far away from home (3,111 miles to be exact), having strong relationships with my coworkers has been a comfort. Our office always goes the extra mile to celebrate our own; we celebrate everyone’s birthdays, we recently had a party for our coworker who is about to get married, and they even threw a graduation luncheon for me when I graduated from Simmons. Our director cares a great deal for her employees, and that shows in the way that she takes the time to bring us together during special occasions. It’s never easy to be far away from home, but HGARC has been a safe and supportive group for me as I have built my home away from home in Boston.
Another reason I have appreciated my work support system is that they are always supportive when it comes to professional endeavors outside of the office. I have coworkers of all ages and backgrounds and everyone is always willing to lend a hand when I need help. Whether they are reading over my SAA poster proposal or lending me archival books on teaching with primary sources, I can always rely on my coworkers to support my professional goals. Even as an intern, Sarah (a Simmons graduate herself) would go over my course schedule each semester to give her opinion on which classes I would get the most out of. I have benefited so much from everyone’s guidance and I know I would be worse off without it.
In order to succeed in our field you need to have a professional network of people who will boost you up and share their wisdom with you, and I feel so lucky that I’ve found people like that at Boston University. Not only that, but I have also made strong personal friendships in our office that have completely changed my life in Boston. Building strong relationships in your office not only bolsters your professional network, but it also makes coming into work every day better. I feel very lucky that I was placed at Boston University almost three years ago and was able to find my place amongst their ranks.