#SpotlightSeries: First Year MARA Student, Rebecca Sharp


Published: February 20, 2020 by Kenna Wulker

Our MARA students come from a variety of career backgrounds. Some may already be in the Archives/Records Management profession, while others are continuing their education in hopes of landing that perfect position. First year MARA student Rebecca Sharp shares her experience working for NARA, the National Archives and Records Administration, while taking on the MARA program. Read on to learn more!

Disclaimer: All views in this blog reflect the thoughts and opinions of Rebecca Sharp and do not represent the views of the National Archives and Records Administration or any other agency of the United States Government.

What is your current job? Where do you work and how did you end up there?

I am an Archives Specialist at the National Archives and Records Administration (NARA). I specialize in numerous Civilian Agency records, and I provide reference guidance to both on-site and off-site researchers. I work in Washington, D.C.  

After graduating with a degree in History from McDaniel College, I started applying for various federal jobs.  I was open to various professions including a grants management specialist, paralegal, or archivist. I was thrilled to be hired by NARA because my career would fully utilize my academic training.  For nine years, I was an Archives Specialist specializing in federal records of a genealogical interest. Due to an agency reorganization, NARA’s genealogy program was disbanded. I was then transferred to my current position, a reference staff member. 

How did you learn about genealogical records/archives? Can you tell us your experience?

For the first nine years of my career, my specialty was federal records of a genealogical interest (some frequently requested records include census, passenger arrival, and pension records). I used to regularly lecture and write articles about a variety of federal records. I was also a regular speaker at NARA’s annual genealogy fair, and I was instrumental in transitioning this on-site event into a virtual genealogy fair. Since so many records contain genealogical information, I still have the pleasure of helping genealogists on a regular basis.  I have the rare opportunity to share in patrons’ often emotional responses to the information that records reveal about their ancestors.

What aspect of archives or records management interests you most?

After having the privilege of caring for archival records for so many years, I am interested in taking this experience and working in either records management or accessioning.  I think it would be really interesting to help ensure that documents become archival records.

What made you decide to pursue a MARA degree?

I have nearly fifteen years of professional archival experience.  However, due to the large size of the archival institution that I work for, I do not get to wear as many hats in comparison to archivists who work at smaller archives.  I have reached a point in my career where I would like to do something different. I am hoping that the MARA degree will expand my knowledge of other archival and records management responsibilities that I have not yet been exposed to on-the-job so that I will qualify for a variety of different jobs.  

What is your goal after MARA?

As stated above, I am interested in furthering my professional development and finding a different archival or records management position.

Rebecca, thank you for sharing your experience with us! If you want to learn more about NARA, please click here.


Meeting at Union Station in DC

I really enjoyed meeting you for a quick dinner at Union Station in DC a few weeks ago. Thanks for agreeing to the interview with Kenna. I hope we have a chance to meet up again sometime soon.

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