Landing Your Dream Job: SAA@CUA

Posted: April 27, 2016 by saacua in News

The Spring 2016 meeting of the SAA@CUA Student Chapter was held on Wednesday evening, April 20th. Highlights of the evening included a presentation/discussion by guest speaker Rebecca Katz, Administrator of the District of Columbia Office of Public Records and Archives; the annual SAA@CUA-hosted Certified Archivist Examination information session, given by Certified Archivist Dr. Jane Zhang, Assistant Professor, CUA Department of LIS; and chapter elections for Fall 2016.

Takeaways? Landing your dream job, and positioning yourself for success in the archival field.

Landing YOUR Dream Job

What graduate student, or recently graduated student, isn’t worried about their career prospects? We all want to land that final-destination-dream-job. The truth? Some do, and they’re hear to tell the rest of us, “it’s all going to be okay!”

Rebecca Katz graduated from CUA’s MSLIS program in the spring of 2015 and, within six months, landed her dream job as head of the DC Archives. A former classmate of many attendees, it was a treat to hear her speak of her own professional success and fulfillment. Even better, though, was Ms. Katz’s unabashed sharing of her journey, including highs and lows, through “How to Land Your Dream Job….In 4 Not-So-Easy-Steps”.

Step 1: Identify dream job. You might not believe it, but Ms. Katz started out at Harvard Law School with an eye to becoming a kick-butt Special Education Attorney. What happened? As is often the case, there were no job prospects. After floundering around for a bit, though, Ms. Katz found work as a Legal Services Attorney. Alas, it wasn’t a great fit and, as she put it, “It turns out I was a horrible Legal Services Attorney!”

Step 2: Realize you’re completely wrong about your skills and flounder around for a while.

Step 2.5: Pick yourself up!! “This step is key,” says Ms. Katz. This is the place where you discover your own unique skills and abilities, where you find out what you’re actually good at! In Katz’s case, she discovered she’s much better at breadth than depth. In other words, “where to find the answer”, not so much knowing the answer immediately.

Step 3: Identify your actual dream job. When Katz decided to pursue an MSLIS degree at CUA, she naturally thought she’d fall right into the role of Academic Law Librarian. But a little thought adjustment, a lot of thinking, and some considerations (A) A desire to improve DC government, B) A love of old stuff, C) The skills and knowledge acquired in class, and D) Issues with the current state of the DC Archives and Office of Public Records) put Ms. Katz on the fast track to identifying just where her skills were needed, could be best used, and could make the most difference.

Step 4: Are you ready? Ms. Katz admits, “I got my dream job right out of library school because I knew the right people!” You’ve probably heard instructors, managers, mentors, and everyone else preach the importance of connections. Turns out it’s all true! Make professional contacts, whether they seem like they’ll be useful or not, because chances are you’ll need (and want!) them on your side when the time comes.

So DON’T STRESS! Everything will be okay. It might take some time, deep thinking, and certainly a lot of self-reflection, but you’ll find that perfect dream job that’s suitable for you. And when you identify it, be confident that you’ll rock the job-with all of the unique skills and bits knowledge that only you can bring along.

Contact Rebecca Katz ( for internship and practicum opportunities. There’s a lot of work to be done at the DC Archives and Office of Public Records, and she’s willing to work with students to tailor a perfect experience.

Taking the Certified Archivist Exam

The Academy of Certified Archivists supports the highest level of professional archival practice, and defines and outlines the knowledge and abilities necessary to be an archivist by certifying archivists, ensuring professional standards, and promoting the employ of Certified Archivists.

Want to get a leg up on other archival professionals, distinguish yourself from the pack, get more experience in the field? Take the Certified Archivist Exam and earn those credentials. Along the way, you’ll build more confidence and position yourself for employment success.

The Examination is comprised of 100 multiple choice questions crossing 7 domains or areas of expertise (see Role Delineation Statement in “Materials and Information” below)

Requirements. Preparation is key. To take the exam, you’ll need at least a Master’s degree with varying amounts of qualifying experience required depending on your degree concentration. Provisional certification is an option for recent graduates of an archival program. This option allots you three years to complete your professional qualifying experience.

How to Apply? Head online to download/fill out the application.

  • Applications are due by May 15th. Remember that the exam takes a fair amount of preparation, so if you’re unprepared for this cycle of examinations, you can work toward applying next year.
  • $50.00 application fee

Materials and Information:

Contact Information:

  • Academy of Certified Archivists:
  • For other questions or to talk with a Certified Archivist in your neighborhood, contact Dr. Jane Zhang (


If you’re a CUA LIS student and interested in joining SAA@CUA, please contact us at We’d love to hear from you!! Remember, your student membership fee is covered by AGLISS!



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