Archiving in Abu Dhabi
History major: Head of Archives and Special Collections; New York University Abu Dhabi Library
"Be open to exploring a variety of fields and disciplines. Take courses outside of your projected major. Study, not only in anticipation of your career goals, but develop interests and learn for the sake of learning as well....some of those courses and topics you study now, may stick with you, shape you, and benefit you in ways you wouldn’t expect now.”
Brad Bauer transferred to CSUF from Orange Coast College, with an interest in history, but not an entirely clear idea of how to pursue history as a degree, or to what careers it might lead. As the first in his family to attend college, and although his parents were very supportive and valued higher education, none of them knew how best to do that. Bauer’s enthusiasm in history was sparked as a child by his father’s stories about his own family’s history. Courses at OCC and CSUF confirmed that history was the area he wanted to pursue. During his time at CSUF, he chose courses throughout HSS, primarily in history, but also focused on German, English and Comparative Literature, and American Studies.
Some of Bauer’s friends and family were skeptical about the value of such “impractical” courses. “Looking back, what I learned in many of those courses has factored into all my jobs, and the career I pursued. It broadened my horizons and helped me to understand better the world in which we live,” Brad says. During his final semester at CSUF, with career plans still uncertain, he sought an internship. One of his professors was able to place him at the Anaheim Public Library. His experiences there demonstrated the possibilities of careers in library and information science. That led first to a part-time job, then a full-time job there, and later to pursue a Master’s in Library Science at UCLA.
The combination of a history undergraduate degree and library science revealed further possibilities in the field of archives and archival management, where Bauer discovered a good match between his skills and interests. Since then, he has worked in several archival positions in government service and academia. Most recently he moved to the United Arab Emirates to build a new program in archives and special collections for the library of New York University’s campus in Abu Dhabi.
“Suffice it to say that the affordable and accessible university education that CSUF provided has opened many doors for me. Although I have had the opportunity to later study at and earn degrees from other well-known universities (UCLA and Stanford), I will always see CSUF as the place that made everything else possible, and I will always be grateful for the opportunities that it provided,” Bauer acknowledged.
How did you major prepare you for your career?
“In addition to the internship, the writing and research skills in classes such as Historical Thinking, Historical Writing, and my Senior Thesis instilled skills to help me to think more broadly about this field. My personal interests were Central and Eastern European history, but at CSUF, I ended up taking many more courses in Asian history. Those have been helpful in many jobs that I have had, including my current one at New York University Abu Dhabi Library.”
Most impactful undergraduate experience
“I can’t tell you how many times I have drawn upon lessons learned or questions asked in the Historical Thinking (Historiography) class in my daily work. The professor challenged us to ask ourselves critical, probing questions about why we “do” history, what does it mean, and what is its value, as well as helping us explore the multitude of ways that historians go about practicing this craft. Even though I took that class long ago, I still vividly remember some of its themes and our discussions.”
"As anxious as you might be about finding a career that will allow you to make a living (and I certainly was), don’t shortchange yourself by overlooking the opportunities that the university gives you to learn, and to learn to think critically, and to broaden your world through that. Our world and society need informed, critical thinkers who have a wide knowledge base--and not simply technical experts in specific fields--now more than ever.”
Additional photos on Spark are decorative background photos.
Photo credits: Abu Dhabi by Валерий Дед,CC BY 3.0, modified. Archives by samuel zeller-unsplash.