Shortly before completing a Master of Archives and Records Administration (MARA) degree in May 2013, Ryan Wadleigh got the promotion he’d been aiming for since deciding to pursue that degree.
The Seattle-area resident is now a records management specialist for King County, Washington, where he’s worked for seven years. He started as an intern in the County’s archives while earning an undergraduate degree in sociology, and was hired on as an administrative specialist. During his six years at the King County Archives, he gained valuable archival experience through processing, description, and reference duties.
“I wanted to advance in the field of archives, and in order to advance, I really needed a master’s degree,” he said, explaining why he decided to enroll in the MARA program. “My ultimate goal was to be an archivist. I wanted to advance where I was working, and also advance in the field.”
For his final project in the MARA program, Wadleigh completed an organizational consulting project at his workplace. He helped redesign the department’s collection database and was involved in migrating information from the old database. He also helped develop the department’s first digital archives.
In his new position with King County Records Management, Wadleigh’s duties include writing retention schedules and file plans; developing training materials; providing records management training; assisting employees with records-related issues; updating King County's Electronic Records Management System; reviewing and publishing county policies; and website design and maintenance.
“It was my love of history that ultimately brought me to the MARA program,” Wadleigh said. “More specifically, it was genealogy that brought me here. I love history in general, but have been an avid genealogist for about 15 years.” Wadleigh said the MARA program’s fully online approach offered the flexibility he needed because he works full time.
“Networking. All of your experience and education is great, but it really depends on who you know. That’s really helped me both in my education and professionally. Also, have an open mind about where you want to go and not limit yourself.”
“I would recommend that people stay on top of current and upcoming technology and not be overwhelmed by it, because it’s coming whether they like it or not.”