Career Corner

Where can you go with a liberal arts degree? What options are out there for Lawrence graduates? The Career Corner tells the stories of some almni who have found answers to these questions and proves that, yes, there is a job out there for you.This time last year, Timothy Burnside was shuffling through her midterms. This year, she is shuffling through the archives at the National Museum of American History in the Smithsonian Institute, Washington D.C.

Burnside graduated with a major in English, a minor in history, and what she calls an “undeclared minor in music.” Always active in both the college and conservatory, Burnside is particularly excited about her role today: “I get to combine the three things I love into one with this position every day.” Burnside works with music archives, documenting the Doc Cheetham collection.

Besides her work, Burnside is excited about living in Washington D.C. “I live on 16th, so basically you follow it into the city, keep going, and it ends at the White House.” She walks by the F.B.I. building every day on the way to work, she says, and also gets “to see so much happening, so many people from around the world. It is amazing.”

“I wouldn’t be interested had I not had the opportunity to take advantage of a strong conservatory and college,” says Burnside. “For instance, with very important figures. Wynton Marsalis came, I got to hear him play, hear him talk. When I stumbled on a letter from him to Doc Cheetham in the collection, that gave it special meaning for me.”

To become an archivist, Burnside recommends visiting archives in the area. She says she felt “very prepared” going into her job, and she advises that others who are interested get some experience ahead of time: “They are very, very useful places. It is good to become familiar with knowing how to handle different materials–letters, photographs, vinyls, there is a different way to deal with all of it…it is nicer to be able to get into the field and not have to ask questions every ten seconds.”

Burnside is considering getting a masters from a school like the University of Maryland, who has an archive program. In the meantime, she is enjoying life in the “real world” and hopes to stay with the Smithsonian museums.