What I learned in 2016

This is my first blog post, inspired by newCardigan’s Glam Blog Club. I’ve been enjoying reading all the contributions to January’s blog topic throughout the month, so decided to get on board.

2016 was a big year for me, personally and professionally. I’m sure a lot of people say that, but 2016 really was a big year for me, personally and professionally. The way I started the year was vastly different to the way I ended the year, though there were also some lovely consistencies that I am grateful for.

So, how did I start 2016? With a lot of (proved to be false) certainty about my personal life, and a lot of (turned out to be unnecessary to worry about) uncertainty about my professional life.

I saw in the near year in almost complete darkness. I had organised a gathering at my beach-near (not quite beach-side!) home, and we all wandered down to the beach to see the midnight fireworks. It was dark, though at my insistence, we all wore glow-stick necklaces and bracelets which I had acquired from a $2 shop. Because let’s face it, glow-sticks are cool. I had a lovely evening surrounded by close friends and a now ex-partner.


Image 1: It really was dark! Here’s a photo of what I believe is myself and a friend on the beach 31/12/15

Early in 2016, I experienced a major change in my personal life, and got some very disappointing news soon after. It was devastating at the time, but turned out to be one of those clichéd ‘best things that ever happened to me’ experiences. Without going into too much detail, what I will say, is what I learnt from the experience.

I learnt that life is nothing without good, supportive friends, family and colleagues, and that if you just ask for what you need, you’ll most probably get it. From getting a much needed extension on a University assignment, to borrowing 20 folding chairs for a BBQ, all the way to having my best friend drive 61 kilometres just to cook me dinner and say hi one night.

I learnt to ‘trust my instinct’, and to always ‘back myself’. I learnt that integrity is super-important, and if something doesn’t ‘feel’ right, it probably isn’t right.

Many years ago, my career began in sales, marketing and data management for the fitness industry (with a bit of HR thrown in too). Later, I gained experience in corporate governance, specialising in policy development and privacy compliance, with a bit of records management thrown in too.

During 2016, when an opportunity arose to apply for a permanent recordkeeping role, I realised that I had found my ‘forever’ career. Or maybe it found me. I don’t know why I’m so surprised to have ended up working in archives/recordkeeping/information management. After all, I completed an undergraduate Arts degree majoring in history and philosophy, with a minor in Latin. I also got First Class Honours for a thesis on reformation Italian history. Additionally, I have studied music, Italian, sociology, religion, and even chose an elective subject about death (after all, I was a ‘goth’ back then). Doesn’t everyone working in the #GLAMR industry have a background studying at least one of these disciplines?


Image 2: you know you’ve found your ‘forever’ job when you consistently have fun at work

In 2016, I undertook what can only be described as a self-imposed intensive crash course in upskilling and learning about my new-ish profession. I made a point of signing up for every cheap or free professional development opportunity I could find, including sessions on agile project methodology, change management, Manager Tools Podcasts (which are amazing, check them out), and free events for Privacy Awareness Week. With my supervisor’s generous encouragement, I sought out mentoring opportunities to learn from more experienced staff. This is in addition to continuing part-time with formal studies: a Graduate Diploma in Information and Knowledge Management.

During 2016, I researched electronic signatures (digital approvals) so thoroughly that I was invited to give an industry presentation on it last November, which was an excellent learning opportunity.

Probably the most unexpected thing I learnt in 2016 was the Korean language, including the alphabet! I decided to self-fund to attend the International Council on Archives (ICA) Congress 2016 in Seoul, Korea (and later was very grateful to receive part-funding for being a workshop co-presenter). I have a habit of over-planning and over-researching things. And if I was going to visit a country I knew nothing about for 9 nights, I was going to learn a bit about the language and culture in advance.

Learning Korean has changed my life and opened up many personal and professional opportunities. By being open to new learning opportunities, I have met, and incorporated into my life, some amazing people I would otherwise never have come across, as we simply moved in different circles. It also added value to my time at the conference, as I was able to have a more ‘local’ (non-touristy) experience.

I asked many questions at ICA Congress 2016, confident that if I lead with ‘Hi, I’m a New Professional’, the audience would be kind to me. The question and answer that I believe will most stay with me, occurred during a very esteemed Q and A panel Chaired by Eric Ketelaar. I asked, very nervously, ‘as a new professional, what is the main message you would want a newbie such as myself to take away from this conference?’ They urged me to read widely and to look outside the profession as well as within it, to ensure I am well rounded both personally and professionally. They also said to consider all potential records users, and to ensure I am exposed to new ideas and solutions.

I learnt that ‘soft skills’ are sometimes as valuable as technical skills, and that diversity is important on teams. In October 2016, partly inspired by the answer to my ICA Congress question, I signed up for a ‘Hackathon’ at Monash University. This is despite not really knowing how to code, and also being one of a very small number of female participants. Using my background in direct sales, I formed a team solely through approaching people I didn’t know, via email and calls, and we all only first met during the first hour of the event. My team went on to win one of three judged prizes at the event, for a big data analytics proposal.


Image 3: ‘Team Awesome’ participating in a Monash University hackathon.

I learnt more in 2016 than I think I can keep track of, but some further highlights include:

If I had to sum up what I learnt in 2016, it was a real understanding that I am, or should be, always learning. It’s to follow the motto of my University: ancora imparo (I am still learning). And be open to learning things both within and outside my profession.

2016 was a big year for me. Both personally and professionally.

I saw in 2017 vastly differently to 2016. Instead of the beachside fireworks, I was on the other side of town in the suburbs, indoors with plenty of lights on. Unfortunately there was no vantage point to see live fireworks, so we watched them on TV instead. I had a lovely evening surrounded by close friends, and with my phone always by my side to chat to my new partner, who’s currently overseas. I saw 2017 in with some (promising and exciting) uncertainty about my personal life, and a lot of (fingers crossed of course) certainty about my professional life.

It’s January and I’ve already hit the ground running, putting things in motion to make 2017 even bigger. I can’t wait! 🙂


Image 4: me at a New Year’s Eve party to welcome in 2017

Be sure to read all the other #GLAMblogposts on this topic, they are all very interesting!

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2 Responses to What I learned in 2016

  1. Pingback: Safety considerations for professional development | Lydia Loriente

  2. Pingback: How I Ended Up Here… on this blog! | Lydia Loriente

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