Who would’ve guessed?

So I find myself starting out into unknown territory…I have a job!  I have a new apartment!  I have a new boyfriend!  I am preparing for a world of business trips, 8 to 5 workdays, and commuting.  My life looks completely different than what it did 6 months ago – and I couldn’t be happier.

As I prepare to start my new job as a “Technical Coordinator” and leave my internship in Records and Information Management at the Midwest ISO, I’ve been reflecting on how I got where I am.  Of course, I could bore you with pages and pages of personal growth due to relationships, family, friends, life choices, etc….but what I mean is career-wise, how did I end up in this new position – how did I find this niche of record keeping and perpetual organization?

The first question most people are asking is, what the hell is Records and Information Management?  As defined by ARMA?  “The field of management responsible for the efficient and systematic control of the creation, receipt, maintenance, use, and disposition of records, including processes for capturing and maintaining evidence of and information about business activities and transactions in the form of records.”

The real definition?  Keeping track of and organizing important shit that people don’t think about so that a business can run efficiently and legally.  Records and Information Management is all about organizing and deciding what to keep and what to get rid of within a business.  Of course, it will be different for every business depending on the industry they are a part of.  That’s part of what has made my internship at the Midwest ISO so interesting – learning more and more about the energy industry and how it’s regulated by the government.

So who would of thought that I would end up in such a field?  Well – probably a lot of people, considering my detail-oriented bordering on obsessive-compulsive need to organize and gather information…it’s actually a pretty natural fit.  But really…records? …it does sound pretty boring, even to me.

Here’s the thing – information is everywhere.  We are inundated with it more and more every day.  Information has the potential to hold enormous value (especially in the business world), and there’s so damn much of it.  It seems silly to think that we could live in a world of instant information – Google Instant Search, Facebook, Twitter, RSS feeds, multiple online news sources, Email, blogs – and NOT think about how we’re going to handle it, what we’re going to preserve, what gets trashed, what has authority and what doesn’t, what holds value and what doesn’t, and how to organize it, how to use it to our advantage…

This is where I start to get excited.   Because even though I may be editing a corporate glossary, discussing a corporate taxonomy, leading a training on naming conventions, or working on implementing an electronic records repository (which sounds so mundane!) , what I’m really doing is thinking about how to organize and process information – and important information at that!

Records become a way to represent information in business.  They’re also a form of evidence, often for a legal purpose.  And who has the time to think about what to do with all of those records and how to organize them and even more importantly, when to get rid of them, on top of doing their job?  That’s where a Records and Information Management program comes in.  It’s our job to think about those things – put your records here in this digital repository, don’t put them on your hard drive – which could be wiped clean at any moment; name your files something that is easily searchable; apply the right metadata; keep business emails, get rid of the rest; stop clogging up our hundreds of servers with useless, outdated reference documents and data!  And don’t even get me started on information protection and governance … who’s in charge of what information?  Who’s allowed to see what information and who’s not?  How do we ensure that the right information is made available or kept confidential?  What kind of rules or standards need to be in place to control the publishing or creation of information? (perhaps deserving of another post entirely…)

Yes, this is my life now.  But what I really love about all of this organizing, all of this record keeping, is that there is a constant challenge.  The business and corporate world, as I have quickly learned, throws many curve balls.  And getting an organization actually organized is no easy task.  There is hardly ever a dull moment and the troubleshooting is a never ending process.  So I stay engaged, challenged, and I learn every day – which is my nerdiest dream come true.


2 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Emily
    Sep 21, 2010 @ 15:52:36

    Sounds like you have really developed a passion for records management and organization (and, to think, it all started with pears….). I’m glad there are people like you out there to keep all this information straight! Sometimes I wonder if, when we learn something new, we forget everything that led us to learn that new thing. Like as a society we are slowly forgetting all of the past information that led us to “know” the information that we do now. Sort of like how you forget how to do long division when you become used to using a calculator. I feel like people should keep a record of all information so that we know how we got to the point (technologically, scientifically, politically, what have you) where we are now. Maybe that’s what historians do? (It isn’t what historians do, by the way. They are too absorbed in pointless facts like how many arsons occurred in Russia during the revolution instead.) I guess my fear of loosing all knowledge goes back to my love/hate relationship with technology and how easy it is to think you are keeping things, but really they are slowly being erased or corrupted. Anyway, I’m glad things are going so well for you!


  2. Ellie
    Sep 21, 2010 @ 20:44:41

    You’re so adorable. I’m really glad that you’re so happy!! It makes me happy.


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