New jobs are tough. Some days I think I’ve finally got things figured out and other days my brain feels like paint splattered on a canvas. I am almost a full four months into my job at the John Michael Kohler Arts Center and seeing the beauty in controlled chaos has been my biggest lesson so far. Job descriptions are teasers – they give you a sneak peak into what is to come. And boy, have the last four months blown me away.
I have grown by leaps and bounds into my role as the head of the education team here in Sheboygan. I am learning to be humble, to accept mistakes as part of the growing process, and to embrace moments of success and moments that feel like failure. This past week I was lucky enough to be asked to speak at a local high school on behalf of the Arts Center. The topic? Career planning! I wondered if I was qualified to share, given my new role in the organization and in the community. I’m still growing into this job. Phshhhh, I thought to myself, the day I stop growing is the day I’m ready to move on, so I jumped right in.
During my presentation, I got to share a bit about my educational background at IWU and CGP, the various internships I have journeyed through over the past six years, and what being an “educational program coordinator” really means. I talked a lot about careers in museums – the various types of museums (art, history, science, natural history, social justice, historic house, community based, etc) and types of jobs (curator, registrar, marketing guru, development associate, etc).
My biggest piece of advice for these seniors in high school? Do what you love. Major in what you love. Pursue what you love. I bet you can find a career that jives with it. To gather some inspiration, I asked museum professionals what wisdom they would like to pass on to those interested in careers in the museum field. Check it out! A huge thank you to museum colleagues that shared their advice via Twitter:
@pbaach If you find something you like to do, chances are you can do it at a museum – research, writing, designing, educating.
@pbaach Museums are challenging, but stimulating places to work. As a staff member you get to eat fancy food at member events, walk the galleries alone! and, of course ride any dinosaurs that are in the collection 🙂
@KinneretK the diversity of experience – working with people, objects, & admin tasks, the opposite of factory work, flexible & quick (is why I work in museums)
@willcooperstown Visit lots of museums, read broadly, be curious (if you’d like to pursue a museum career)
@emilylanguish There are more careers in museums than just curator! This coming from a curator.
@KinneretK (Make sure to check out) #museumed’s history as a feminist field and current trends in rising female leadership and flexibility of part or full time
@kironcmukherjee There’s many types of careers in Museums. Find an interest, start now & volunteer!
@chadsirois make connections early and learn that #museums are more than just curatorial departments
@kironcmukherjee Impress w/ your enthusiasm & creativity! Will pay off in the future – did for me
@MuseumMinute discover what makes you unique – its usually what you’re most passionate abt – and be the best you can be at it
@MuseumMinute museums are more than storage/showcase centers. They’re abt ppl. “Nontraditional” museums skills are valuable #museumjob
@czarshaw join a youth volunteer program at local museum (to get experience in the field)
@alli_rico Try volunteering in a variety of museums if you’re not sure where your interests lie, or if you have a variety. #museumjob
@unmuseum get practical experience and volunteer (in the field in order to pursue a museum career)
@historein 1) Ask, what do I see myself doing on a daily basis? 2) volunteer 3) there is no single path to museum career 4) volunteer
@BoardKatie Volunteer for events and more. Write a research paper or poem, draw, sing, dance about something in a museum.
@FranklinVagnone volunteer at a soup kitchen or homeless shelter
@eliznerland know the issues outside the museum!
My colleagues are right – there is no one right path into any career. Do you have any advice for those looking to break into the museum field OR adjusting to new positions? Tweet them to @FreshInTheField #museumcareers