Alumnae/i Feature

Joy Rodowicz ’14MS Discusses her Role at the National Fire Protection Association

Tell me about the kind of work that you do.

My title is Digital Assets and Records Manager at the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA), which is a fire and life safety organization that has been around for 125 years. NFPA is widely known as a codes and standards organization – with more than 300 consensus codes and standards designed to minimize the risk and effects of fire by establishing criteria for building, processing, design, service, and installation around the world.

I am responsible for all of NFPA's archival holdings, including all of the published material and intellectual property, and I'm the lead researcher for codes and standards development history. Because it is integrated into law, the archive is available to the public, and we also do work for technical committees and for the government. I am a liaison to other departments in the company, such as public affairs, legal and engineering, and I'm the lead researcher for copyright in the library.

How did you become interested in working in this area?

I started in the arts, working in film in Hollywood as a development assistant after my undergraduate education. I didn't find that career fulfilling, so I went on to teach film and video at the middle school and high school levels. After I got my master's in digital media, the market tanked, and it was difficult to get a job without previous experience.

I was with a friend who asked me what I wanted to be when I was little, and I remembered that I wanted to be a librarian. That prompted me to look into library programs, and Simmons was nearby and had the best program that really spoke to me. Archives and digital archives particularly interested me, as I could see them having a life beyond the present. I desired a career that wouldn't become redundant and I wanted stability. I also saw this as an opportunity to use all of my previous education and skills.

How did Simmons prepare you to become a leader in your field?

The courses and discussions were great. But the biggest impact Simmons had on me was the internships. As part of my Introduction to Archives course, I was placed with the Pembroke Center: Feminist Theory Archives at Brown University. For my final semester, after several meetings with faculty to determine the best fit, I was placed with NFPA as a Records Management & Digital Archives intern. These internships gave me some of the best experiences in real life work and mentorship. In both instances I was able to move beyond the books and theory and into the practice of what archiving is on a daily basis.

Are there any specific Simmons faculty members who were especially inspiring to you?

I found Professors Linda Schuller, Naresh Agarwal, and Daniel Joudrey to be the most influential. Schuller was especially helpful for learning about corporate libraries, whereas Agarwal got me interested in the technical side and encouraged me to push beyond my comfort zone and helped my growth as a professional.

Do you have any advice for current students in archives concentration?

Take a records management course – archives and records are constantly overlapping, so the added training will only benefit you. I tell my interns that not everything you are given is worth saving. If the materials exist somewhere else, it isn't vital. You need to save your strength for the things that really matter.

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