Blast from the past: day one of fieldwork placement

The beginning of the working week for me usually involves waiting oh so patiently in traffic as I make my way through and to the south side of town where I work my day job, currently a policy role. Stepping off the bus on Adelaide Street in Brisbane’s CBD and dressed in work attire, I felt disoriented for a Monday morning routine, yet my surroundings were familiar. I could have easily been mistaken for merely another of the ‘rat race’ heading to work in the city. But instead, I was making my way to the university where I currently study for my first day on a fieldwork placement.

Not only am I studying the Masters at this university, but I also studied my undergrad Business degree there too. Lugging a full bag and walking my short cut through Queen Street Mall, suddenly evoked memories of my 18 year old…..no wait. Or rather 17 year old self. Some things have changed since then (thank goodness), but not everything. For example….

  • I wear nearly $100 pants as ‘every day’ work pants…….BUT I still have a fear that the rubbing of my bag could cause them to fade. I wouldn’t want my good pants to be ruined and all. And I still wear work pants I bought seven years ago. Back then I made sure the little money I had went a long way. Nothing’s changed in that regard. Cost per wear people!
  • I wear $100+ shoes as ‘every day’ work shoes…….BUT I still fear them ruined if I get stuck in a crack on the footpath, or if the point gets scratched. (see above)
  • In yesteryear, I lugged around textbooks. Nowadays, it’s devices.
  • I still fear withdrawing $20 from my account a day before payday.
  • I still pick up $10 bargain Big W bags and use them til they break.
  • These days I have grown up expenses, like health insurance and comprehensive car insurance.
  • I now willingly pay nearly $100 for a hair cut to come out looking fabulous.
  • I drink chai lattes. Back then, I didn’t know they existed.

My first day of my fieldwork placement I felt like an undergrad student again. It was confusing. I’m a professional now! It’d been a long time since I was on campus, in daylight and during semester. So you can see how this all could throw me even just a little. I felt like a small town gal in a big city. So many people!

These past few days I’ve focused on settling in and it’s been lovely to see some familiar faces. However there has been one big surprise – how much I currently identify my professional self as being a part of the archives sector. On my first day, I couldn’t help but see the linkages between the contexts and try to find take aways. I’m not sure what this means, but I’m not discarding the possibly that perhaps this is my way of coping with the change.

My main objective of this fieldwork placement is to simply gain experience in a different context. I’m speaking to many people about their roles and I’ll be spending my time putting all the jigsaw puzzle pieces together. Being a ‘fly on the wall’ at a research data management meeting on Monday afternoon reaffirmed for me that research support was the right area for me to experience the academic context.¬†Hopefully by the end of the fieldwork placement I have got to know people and how things work here, and also that I have proven to be a very capable information professional.

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