Thursday, January 20, 2011

My BCG Experience

Hello All -

As I mentioned in my previous posts (not too far back from today) I was going to talk about my experience with applying for my CG with the Board for Certification of Genealogists (BCG). I received my portfolio along with the judges comment in the mail roughly a couple of weeks ago, but I wanted to digest everything before reporting back. I know that there are some who are going through the process, or are thinking about going through it sometime in the future.

I wanted to share a bit about my experience with those who may be interested, as I know that I was keen to know of other folks' experiences that had gone through it. I can only really speak on my own behalf on these matters, as I know that everyone has a different story to tell on this.

I had in the past been curious about the BCG certification process, but I found it to be a bit intimidating. However, at that time, I knew that I would not be ready for it. I thought it would be best to wait a few more years before I went for it to get more experience.

I initially sent my preliminary application in September 2009. Before, this I purchased the Standards Manual and the Application Materials. This is a must purchase for anyone applying - the application materials mainly, but I would not even try to send an application without having the Standards Manual as well (reading and studying it completely backwards and forwards).

Before I sent away my preliminary application, I started to do some work on my portfolio to get a head start on things. I wanted to be familiar and comfortable with the process and standards needed. It would mean less pressure on me by not being on the one year "clock."

I then sent away my application and then waited for the BCG to send me their document for transcribing, etc. Because, I live in the UK it was a bit longer to wait for correspondence back and forth. Once received in the mail, I got seriously started on work.

To briefly describe the application parts, there are seven parts to the BCG portfolio application. First is the Genealogist's Code that is to be signed by the applicant; secondly there is the background resume; thirdly there is the document work (BCG supplied document) to transcribe, abstract, analyize, research focus, etc.; fourthly there is another document work but this one is applicant supplied document that goes through the same process as the BCG supplied document.

The average wait time for an applicant's results are 5-6 months. However, I waited a bit longer to get my results back. The unfortunate holdup was that there was a loss of my portfolio in the mail between Judge 2 and Judge 3. They do warn that this can potentially happen. I was very glad that I made a copy of my portfolio before I mailed it away. This is a very important piece of advice I can give to any potential applicant.

It was now December and still no further word from the BCG. Then, unexpectedly, I received an email from the BCG office to welcome me to their ranks. This would be around 20th of December. It was a very surprising early Christmas gift. I think that I was in utter shock for most of the day after getting word, as I thought that I hadn't done as well as I could have.

Now, the dreaded judges critiques. This is probably the most frightening aspect of the application process. Some of the comments can really sting and it helps to have a thick skin. It is very easy to take the negative comments to heart and feel a bit down in the dumps about your work. I know that reading the criticism that I received was a blow to the old self-esteem. I read the criticism over and over again to get to grips with what the judges were saying. After mulling it all over and having time to reflect on things, I knew that the judges were just doing their job and wanting to point me in the right direction to be a better genealogist. I can now really appreciate their comments and will definitely learn from them when it comes time to renew in 5 years time.

It was interesting to see the three judges' range of comments. The second judge really tore the portfolio to shreds. One judge would find something acceptable, then another judge will find the same thing done poorly. It is really in the eye of the particular judge what meets the standards set by the BCG Manual when it comes to an applicant's work. I think though for my portfolio the judges were for the most part in agreement on most things. Thankfully, many of the marks were "Meets Standards" with a few "Partially Meets Standards" in the mix. The mistakes I did make were stupid, careless ones. If I took a bit more time with it and not been in a rush to get the portfolio out the door I think it would have been a better application. It is important to really focus on the little things and pay careful attention to detail.

In the end, I am glad that I went through the application process. It was a stressful and nerve-racking experience. It is definitely an education in itself. I realized how much I have learned. The judges remarks will definitely be a big help for next time.


Wolawol said...

I just want to tell you how grateful I am to you for posting your feelings and experiences. I am just putting together my portfolio to apply for certification and will have it in the mail in a couple of days. I have been working on it for about two years!It is like writing a Ph.D. thesis. I am very nervous and I know I will be devastated if i don't make it. So it was comforting to read your reactions to the judges' comments.
Valerie in New Jersey


Thank you very much Valerie. I wish you all the best on your submission. It will be a nail biter of a wait for the next few months for you. I encourage you to make a copy of your portfolio before you send it away just in case - mine got lost in the mail between judges.