AAPB NDSR Resident Information Webinar Recap

In just over a week — January 28th — we’ll be announcing our AAPB NDSR host selections, and opening up our call for resident applications! You can find more information about resident applications here.

In the meantime, if you’re looking to find out more about the AAPB NDSR application process, you might want to take some time to check out our Resident Info webinar, which aired last Wednesday. The webinar was hosted by Rebecca Fraimow, Program Coordinator for AAPB NDSR, and featured a guest presentation from current NDSR NY resident Mary Kidd about her experience working at New York Public Radio.

The slides for Rebecca’s portion of the webinar are up here; the slides for Mary’s portion are up here; and the full webinar can be watched (and listened to) here.

We got a whole set of great questions during the webinar, so if you don’t have time to view the whole thing, here’s a summary of the Q&A:

Q: Is December 2014 as a grad date too late for the cut-off?

A: Nope — any graduation date between July 2014 and July 2016 is fine!

Q: What are some examples of good video applications?

A: It runs the gamut; one of my favorites is a cohort member of mine who wrote a song about digital preservation. However, many are simply interview-style ‘talking head’ videos in which the applicant talks about their qualifications and why they would be a good resident during the program.

Here are some examples of successful applications which can be viewed publicly:

Victoria Steeves, 2014-15 NDSR NY resident

John Caldwell, 2015-16 NDSR DC resident

Julie Seifert, 2015-16 NDSR Boston resident

Q: Will we be running another resident program in the future?

A: We would like to. We haven’t confirmed anything yet, but we will probably be applying to do another round, so keep your fingers crossed for us!

Q: Are previous fellows’ videos available for viewing?

A: Some of them are – the ones that people put up on YouTube and didn’t privatize afterwards. I’ve linked some examples that I could find of successful videos above.

Q: For Mary, do you have plans for what you will be doing after the residency?

Mary: NDSR is a temporary fellowship, so I will be looking and applying for jobs now until it’s over; past NDSR residents, including the NDSR NY residents from last year, are all gainfully employed at really exciting places around the nation and in New York. So, no concrete plans, but very high hopes.

Q: Will the start time of this year’s residency make attendance at SAA 2016 difficult?

A: While it does overlap, we would be very happy to work with any residents who wanted to attend SAA 2016 to push back the start date a little to make sure that they’re able to go. Residents are definitely welcome to use their professional development funds to attend the conference.

Q: What are some professional development opportunities that we can take advantage of in order to be better prepared for future opportunities, for those of us that don’t have the opportunity to specialize in this area while taking courses?

A: I would recommend looking around for potential internship opportunities in your area that focus on audiovisual content, and starting to think about opportunities to work with the a/v materials at any internships that you may already have. There may be volunteer opportunities also, but if you don’t have specific audiovisual experience that’s not necessarily going to disqualify you for the residency. Many people who don’t specifically have a digital preservation background have been accepted for NDSR because they made a convincing case for their interest and the value of their perspective. If you don’t have an opportunity to gain hands-on experience, but demonstrate interest and maybe do preliminary reading or research online, that can go a long way. We’ve compiled a set of introductory audiovisual resources from a workshop last year, here. Another resource for learning about audiovisual preservation is the Association of Moving Image Archivist’s recent webinar series, available to purchase on demand here. You might also want to investigate the Preserving Digital Public Television project from 2011, which can be found here.

Q: What possible projects are hosts looking for?

A: All the host projects that we received have been very different. Many projects have a focus on digitization and workflows around digitized materials; there have been projects that focused on trying to identify and create a preservation path for born-digital files; some projects are focused on metadata throughout the institution. It’s a wide range. Some of the proposals are at institutions with archivists, some of them are not; some are quite technical, and some are more about just trying to get archival practices off the ground; some involve working with a local library or archive; some are centered around the previous work that those institutions may have done with the AAPB. There will be a lot of room to identify projects that meet your interests and your skillset as prospective residents.

Q: Should residents try to direct their applications to match the host projects?

A: It doesn’t hurt, if you have a project that you’re really invested in. It might be helpful to discuss in your cover letter why that project would be a good fit for you. However, if you see a lot of projects that have interest for you, you can also talk more broadly about why you’re interested in the residency program, and that probably wouldn’t help or harm your chances.

Q: Will this recording be preserved for us to review later?

A: Yes, it’s up online now!

Q: What cities will the residents be located in?

A: We haven’t decided that yet for sure — check back at our host announcement page on the 28th! We’ve received applications from all over the country, so really it could be anywhere.

Q: How would mentoring work at the sites looking to implement archival practice? If there isn’t an archivist in place, who would do the mentoring?

A: At most sites where there isn’t an archivist in place, the mentor would be someone who’s involved in station management, so they may have experience working with IT on technical operations or they may have experience managing how files enter the institution before broadcast, but they might not have experience specifically working to ensure those files are preserved for the long term. In those cases, the mentor at the host station would guide the resident in what the station needs, but the resident would do more work with the Advisory Board mentor and the local mentor on implementing preservation best practices. However, many stations do have relationships with local libraries and archives; some of them have put thought into this already and have identified in their proposals people that the resident might work with to support them in completing the project. The resident can also always reach out to us, and we’ll do everything that we can to make sure that they have more support and places they can go to get help with those projects.

Q: Quick tips on what makes a good application?

Rebecca: Anything that shows that you’ve thought about the challenges of public media or audiovisual materials would help with the application. Having a CV with at least some relevant experience will also help, of course. Casey Davis, the Project Manager for the AAPB NDSR program, who was my mentor for the last round of NDSR, might have more thoughts.

Casey: When I had my interview for my current position, I had no experience working in an audiovisual or digital archive; however, I brought materials that I created during her coursework with her during her interview, and was able to successfully demonstrate the relevant experience to win the position. Consider all the work that you’ve done in your graduate programs and internships as direct practical experience, and make sure that comes through in the cover letter, the CV, and the video project. The information that is communicated in those five minutes is really important, especially for the people who will be reviewing the applications.

Rebecca: While AAPB NDSR staff will be reviewing the applications to make sure that they’re complete and meet the standards of the residency, the actual selection will be done by the hosts. All of the projects include desired qualifications for the resident in their project proposals, which will be up on the site on the 28th. We recommend reading those carefully to see what the host applications are looking for, and using the CV, the cover letter, and the video project to demonstrate how you either have those skills already, or are prepared to learn them.

Q: For those who have completed NDSR, what would you say is the greatest impact the residency has had on shaping your career?

Rebecca: While I had experience with a/v and knew that was where I wanted to focus before starting my residency, the emphasis on public media is something that’s had a huge career impact; I had opportunities to leave and work somewhere else when I ended my residency, and I decided to stay at WGBH because I really believe in the work that’s being done here. The projects I had a chance to work on during my residency have taken me in interesting directions that might lead down other roads in the future, but for right now, I’m incredibly glad that I ended up here.

Mary: NDSR is helping me tailor my professional development towards something very specific (a/v archiving, digital archiving). It has also helped me develop a virtual professional persona, developed my writing and public speaking skills.

Casey: As a former host mentor, the NDSR residents get a lot of national attention while in their residencies; they get to publish blog posts on the LoC blog, they get to present at conferences, they create a huge network of digital preservation experts for themselves throughout the period of the residency. So your name becomes known, and no resident has had any trouble getting a really awesome job after the residency. Also, the 20% of your week dedicated to professional development is really important and unique among digital preservation jobs

Rebecca: But also, in many cases the residencies have helped people understand what they do and don’t want to do. Some people have gotten value of their residencies and at the end of it have decided that digital preservation is maybe not their field going forward. It is an opportunity to get a feel for what it’s like doing this work and get some experience under your belt with it, but the fact that it’s only ten months means that it doesn’t have to be a commitment to do this forever.


Please feel free to leave us more questions in comments, or reach out through email (rebecca_fraimow@wgbh.org).

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