Betsy Giles Glenn

(Illinois State)

The Corporate Archivist | 40 Under 40 Class of 2020


“It’s not that you messed up it’s how you recover.”


Betsy Giles Glenn lives out her passion each day as a corporate archivist. “I get to play with awesome historical things, solve history mysteries through research and do cool museum and archival things!” Check out her extended interview to learn all about her unique career.


What inspired you to go into this line of work?

I’ve always loved history and museums. Growing up, I can remember going to a lot of Chicago area museums. It wasn’t until I was almost done with my undergrad degree that I realized people actually work at museums, and that I could use my passion for history in a day-to-day job. From that moment, I knew I wanted to work in a museum or archive.


What challenge did you overcome to get where you are today?

I entered the job market right at the beginning of the recession. Going into the cultural sector is already difficult but with the finances of many institutions being cut there were even less positions. I worked really hard to get as much hands-on experience in the field I could. From internships to volunteering to contract work, I went for anything that would keep me in the field and get me experience. It was a long five years but after hard work and a lot of perseverance, I was able to get a full-time position in a museum. 


Did someone help you get to where you are today, like a mentor?

There have been a lot of people who have helped me throughout my career. One thing I’ve always appreciated about the museum/archive field is that we all know we can’t do everything by ourselves. There is never enough time, manpower or money to do it or know it all. It’s a field that really works together and builds each other up. I’ve been connected to so many professionals who were willing to answer my questions, connect me with people, offer advice and sometimes just listen when I needed to vent.


What do you love most about your job?

I love getting to see history up close and personal. Not too many people can say they’ve been in the collection storage area of museums like the Chicago History Museum or the Field Museum and got to see priceless pieces of history.

Early Bird or Night Owl


Cats or Dogs


Stripes or Polka Dots


Staycation or Vacation


Apple or Android



  • Vacation Destination

  • Favorite Color

  • Can't Live Without
    My phone

  • Favorite Season

  • Favorite Food
    Ice cream

Describe yourself in three words.

Goal-getter, loyal and creative.


Your life philosophy is…

Keep the main thing the main thing.


What is the best piece of advice you received?

My dad used to ask me “What did you learn?” when something crummy happened or went wrong. I used to get so annoyed with him because I just wanted to be upset and vent, but he would get me to see everything as a growth experience. As I’ve grown older, I now understand that everything should be a growth experience. We shouldn’t let something going wrong keep us down.

If someone handed you an airline ticket to a place of your choosing, where would you go and why?

I would choose Australia. It’s been on the top of my must visit list for a few years. The unique and natural beauty is just awe-inspiring, and I really would love to see it. One of my favorite bands is from Australia; I would love to see sites relating to them.


What’s something you cannot live without?

My phone. I can work on my blog, other hobbies, connect with family and friends and more at the touch of my fingertips. I love having photos with me all the time, too. I’m always taking and showing photos of my nephew and nieces.


Name a book you read that positively shaped you.

“The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up” by Marie Kondo


If you weren’t working in the industry that you are, what would you be doing instead?

During the dark days of trying to find a full-time job, I always thought about what I would do if I couldn’t get a job in a museum or archive. Really, I couldn’t think of anything I would want to do more!


How do you unwind or relax after a long day?

One of my side hustles is my lifestyle blog. Most days I like to sit down and write.


The most rewarding aspect of your job is…

I love it when people get excited about the history of Allstate. You wouldn’t think that most people who work at an insurance company would even care, but I’ve had people in my department tell me how much they enjoy seeing the history around the buildings. The best part is when they get so excited that they want to know how they can be preserving the history that happens every day.


If you could have a gigantic billboard anywhere with anything on it – metaphorically speaking, getting a message out to millions or billions – what would it say and why?

“It’s not that you messed up it’s how you recover.”


In the last five years, what new belief, behavior, or habit has most improved your life?

I’ve been working to be more of a minimalist. It’s kind of an ironic thing since my entire job is to keep a lot of stuff, but in my personal life I’ve been working to get rid of excess. We don’t need piles of stuff just hanging around and stressing us out.


When you feel overwhelmed or unfocused, or have lost your focus temporarily, what do you do?

Walk away and take a break from it. It’s easy with everything I try and do at work and in my life to get overwhelmed quickly. Sometimes I just need to stop, walk away and take a break.


What is one of the best or most worthwhile investments you’ve ever made? (Could be money, time, energy, etc.)

This is almost the opposite of an investment, but it is an investment of time. My husband and I recently became laser focused on our finances. We started budgeting and cutting way back on our excess spending, with the end goal of not having any more car debt and paying off our house in a few years. We’ve paid off $26,000 in car debt and are working on chunking away on our mortgage. I wish I had been taught sooner how to manage finances better, but it’s been worth the investment of our time and energy now!

Name a confident woman of character who you look up to? Why her?

One of my best friends, Stephanie. She is one of the most confident people I know. She works hard to achieve her goals in every area of her life. It’s amazing how much she accomplishes. She is always pushing me to accomplish my life goals, too. I endeavor to be more like her when I grow up.