Life After the MARA

Many graduates of the fully online Master of Archives & Records Administration (MARA) program at the San José State University (SJSU) School of Information (iSchool) have dynamic, exciting stories to share with the community as they put their MARA degree to work. These graduates are information archives and records professionals working in fruitful careers and environments that span the entire information spectrum. From county records departments to museums and beyond, MARA graduates are working in truly diverse and exciting settings.

One such graduate is Lauren Aiko Kelly (MARA, ’16), who works for Multnomah County as a records management analyst, where her responsibilities are varied. “As a records management analyst,” explains Kelly, “I mostly manage records center operations and policy, provide records management and information governance consultation and training, and onboard customers to our Electronic Records and Document Management Systems (ERDMS).” The work is as rewarding as it is challenging and she sees herself working with the county for years to come. She is currently hard at work with fellow iSchool alumna Jenny Mundy (MLIS ’09) to help employ Multnomah County’s Record Management Program’s current strategic plan by developing county policy and frameworks for what information governance (IG) would look like at their organization.

Kelly (pictured right) took advantage of the Institute of Certified Records Managers program that allows MARA graduates to apply completed course work towards examination credit for parts of the exam, offering them a direct path to certification. “Reflecting on my testing experience,” says Kelly, “I recognized that the courses I had taken during the MARA program at the iSchool had prepared me with broad AND specific knowledge - keys to success on the [CRM] exam but also in working in the records and information management field in general.” Indeed, with her skills from the MARA program, the fast track to certification offered by the ICRM, and her fellowship experience, Kelly was poised to succeed in the field as she is now.

Alumna Ossie Thomas (MARA ’16) also took advantage of the agreement between the iSchool and ICRM, which allowed her to gain certification and enhance her records management abilities as a records and information management team leader for International Paper Company. Thomas manages compliance-processes for IPC’s global records management program. As someone with a full-time job, Thomas needed a MARA program that would allow her the freedom to work while learning, which SJSU’s 100% online platform was built for. She also needed a program with a curriculum that covered every area of records management. Says Thomas, “I particularly like that the curriculum is continually evaluated and updated to align with the job market and emerging trends in the records profession.” Overall, the course work in the MARA program at the iSchool helped Thomas embrace the changes made in her workplace due to emerging and evolving technologies. With her MARA degree and CRA certification in hand, Thomas is prepared for any and all challenges or responsibilities that come her way in her role.

Nikolay Zherebnenkov (MLIS ‘17) took advantage of the ample internship opportunities at the iSchool and worked as an museum archivist at Museum on Main in Pasadena, CA before graduating. As part of his internship at the museum, Zherebnenkov was tasked with helping to digitize over a million negative strips into a database for a local history project. Says Zherebnenkov, “We covered about 60 years of local history, and I just loved the whole [process], the constant feel and understanding of what was going on a deeper local level as opposed to the national level.” Having graduated with a bachelor’s degree in history, Zherebnenkov felt right at home doing this kind of work that connected two major passions in life.  

As the first person in his family with the chance to go to graduate school, Zherebnenkov always felt that he had a responsibility to plan and measure out his course work at SJSU to ensure his success in the MARA program. “I’d never done this type of graduate level work before,” says Zherebnenkov, “it’s a first for me and in my family to have this chance so I’ve actually planned and decided to see just how much I can carry from semester to semester.”  Zherebnenkov's measured approach to his work proved fitting for his studies at SJSU’s School of Information, as the archives and records field is nothing without the building blocks of precise systems. Now that he’s graduated and is gaining real-world experience in a museum archives position, Zherebnenkov is ready to achieve his lofty goals in the archival field.

To learn more about life after the MARA degree, check out the community profiles and alumni career spotlights, which provide glimpses into alumni workplaces. Visit the dedicated MARA blog as well, where you’ll find more profiles highlighting students and alumni. If you’re a graduate of the School of Information at San José State University, please create your alumni career spotlight and share your news!

If you’re considering earning a MARA degree, check out the information page for prospective MARA students. There, you can find an overview of the program, explore the value of a MARA degree and find links to course descriptions and much more.