Case study

Archives and records management intern — Inês Ferreira

Inês has spent the last two years working as an intern for various international organisations on a range of short-term records management and archives projects. Find out more about the benefits and challenges of her work

What degree did you study?

I studied for a degree in history at the Universidade Nova de Lisboa and then went on to do an MA Archive Administration at Aberystwyth University, graduating in 2017.

How did you get your job?

I heard about the vacancy for my first internship on the Archives-NRA JISCMail mailing list (a mailing list for archivists and records managers). The others were forwarded to me by my supervisors and colleagues.

What's a typical working day like?

International organisations usually have flexible work schedules and I choose to start my day at 8.30am. When I arrive I'm assigned my work for the day. The work is varied and I could be doing anything from cataloguing archives to drafting policies. During the lunch break, I get together with the other interns or colleagues. I usually leave at around 5.30pm.

What do you enjoy most about your job?

I particularly enjoy working in the archives of international organisations as it allows you to connect with people from all around the world while applying what you've learned during your course for the benefit of the organisation. I have grown tremendously since I started my career, both professionally and personally. While working in an international organisation, I feel like I am part of something bigger.

What are the challenges? 

Choosing this path means that you will most likely be living your life in periods of six months - most internships are six months long, or if longer, they are extended in six-month increments. This means that you are always looking for another internship or job, and that you're always adjusting your life around it (looking for accommodation, opening bank accounts, registering with the authorities, etc). 

In what way is your degree relevant?

Without my Masters in archive administration I wouldn't be able to get, or succeed at, any of the internships I've done.   

How has your role developed and what are your career ambitions?

The 'role' itself hasn't developed as I have taken on several different roles over the past two years. Instead, I have considerably broadened my experience and knowledge by working on a variety of projects within both archives and records management, both paper and digital, and across various types of organisations.

In the future, I would like to work in a historical or cultural organisation where I can apply the knowledge and skills I obtained via both my degrees (archives and history).

What are your top tips for choosing a Masters?

My top tip for choosing a Masters in information management is to learn as much as you can about digital records and digital preservation - this is always an asset, if not a requirement, and raises your employability exponentially.

Another useful tip to keep in mind is whether the course and the university are accredited by CILIP (the library and information association) or the Archives and Records Association (ARA), for example.

What advice can you give to others wanting to get into international archive and records management?

My experience so far has been in the international sector, so my advice applies to working internationally:

  • Knowing a second language is always a plus (if not a requirement), particularly the United Nations languages - French, Spanish and Arabic.
  • You are expected to complete a few internships before you get a job (usually two years of internships, but some jobs ask for five).
  • Networking is incredibly helpful. 

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