Still Fresh in the Field

Photo Credit: The John Michael Kohler Arts Center, Sheboygan, WI

Photo Credit: The John Michael Kohler Arts Center, Sheboygan, WI

Why, hello! It’s been a little while since my last post and life has moved fast. I’m currently writing to you from my new office at the John Michael Kohler Arts Center in Sheboygan, Wisconsin (don’t worry boss, it’s my lunch hour!) where I have accepted a position as their new Education Program Coordinator. There were only 6 weeks between my initial screening interview and my start date and during that time I traveled back and forth from Chicago to Sheboygan 5 times, interviewed 4 times, spent 3 anxious days glued to my phone, packed up 2 cars, and moved into 1 awesome apartment.

Here are a few things I learned in the process:

  • Getting your first office feels as amazing as every cliche media portrayal of the event
  • First weeks on the job are TOUGH but also rewarding, it has been likened to childbirth, but I won’t go there
  • Never say no to a meal; the first few weeks of a new job feels like networking overload but I have high hopes this will pay off
  • Be honest about what you don’t know, otherwise it will take you three weeks to set up your voice mail and you’ll accidentally give out the wrong phone number to docents
  • Nobody is productive 100% of the time they are sitting at their desks
  • Work is sort of like school: there are to-do lists and everyone loves free brownies
  • Managing is not easy! Making honest connections with your colleagues and valuing the unique contribution that they give to your organization sounds like BS but it’s the most important thing you can do
  • Learn, listen, and linger (but not in a creepy way). Learn as much as you can about your organization, listen to the people you will be working with, and linger longer than you normally would in conversations to see where your team is at and where they are going (in both the short term and long term)
  • Meetings can be productive and unproductive… my goal is to master the of art of a quick and expedient meeting (said every manager ever)
  • Learning how to access your work email on your phone is good; learning when to turn off your phone and live your life is better

When I announced that I had accepted this position, a twitter follower asked if my moniker “Fresh In the Field” would be changing to something along the lines of “Rooted In the Field”. The question took me by surprise. When the JMKAC summer interns were given a “going away” reception it felt like the strangest thing in the world to not be another intern standing up, reminding everyone of my name, and explaining where my next step would be. Do I have next steps? YES. I am going to take this time to learn more about my organization, more about my community, and more about living a life outside of school and work. Am I still fresh in the field? Yes… and I hope to be for a very long time, as I keep learning and growing in the museum world and out of it.

And that’s what I’ve got so far, folks! Stay tuned for more excitement, exhaustion, and sometimes esoteric career discoveries in the near future. Now back to an afternoon of literacy links, docent training, preschool prep, and social media strategies!


About catebay

Informal educator working in the world of art. Interests in public programming and community advocacy. Loves learning about people, collecting blue mason jars, and consuming Swedish fish.
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