Four Career Tips for Emerging Museum Pros

It’s the end of internship season for my classmates and I, and the beginning of the last leg of our graduate program is upon us. Soon the job hunts will start, and our education will have set the stage for what is certain to be a pursuit of never ending learning as heritage professionals and beyond.

This won’t be the first time I’m jumping into the job market, and it’s also a shift in my career path. I’ve learned a few things along the way that could be useful for students that are on the verge of entering the work force as the future of cultural institutions. These are some easy things you can start doing now before you get that diploma!

Make Business Cards

You never know when you’ll need to exchange contact information or when you’ll meet someone that inspires you, and a business card is much better than a written scrap of paper. They do not have to be detailed, so your name, contact info, and a website covers the basics. Since I have no formal title yet, I usually use “Heritage Professional and Museum Blogger”.

They can be ordered at affordable rates and are invaluable to have. Once you receive a card from someone it’s wise to send an email with a quick message, and add them to your contact list with the details of where you met them. Include any other relevant info like expertise, interests, and organization affiliation.

Embrace Social Media

Not everyone is an active user of social media, and that is okay. Even the most basic of use can take up little time and be done in an accessible way. The way you utilize it is up to you, and whether you dive headfirst into Twitter conversations or just observe Facebook Group postings you are keeping your knowledge base current. It’s important to know news and developments to stay informed.

Twitter is great for following trends and other professionals, and there is a whole network of people sharing their work and great ideas. The conversation also takes you beyond your geographic location and the hashtag #musesocial shows real time conversation. You also follow organizations, leaders, conferences, social movements, job postings…really, anything! (If you need more ideas, check out the people I follow)

Facebook Groups can be observed in the same way, but with the ability for more fleshed out commentary. They’re also the location of job postings, shared documents, and other resources. It’s great for collaboration and can also be specific to where you live. I suggest Emerging Museum Professionals (EMPN) as a place to start, and MuseumNext.

Join Professional Groups and Sign Up for Newsletters

Another way to stay current and open to opportunity is to consider more formal ways of networking through professional groups. They vary country to country, and are excellent for taking your career to the next level. I follow a lot of different ones that aren’t necessarily where I’m currently based, such as the American Alliance of Museums , Museum Vereniging,(NL), Museums Association (UK). There’s also the Network of European Museum Organizations for a broader area of interest, and EMPN has a list of regional ones for the US you can find here.

This is also a good time to work on your LinkedIn profile, because it really does come in handy! There are also groups to join if you wish to add that option!

Be Yourself

It sounds cheesy, but it really rings true. Who we are as individuals brings different expertise to any institution, and the strengths you have only serve to make you an asset. Institutions need a variety of people to do different things, and exploring what makes you tick is the best thing that you can do for yourself and your career. Embrace your interests and think of how you can incorporate them!

It’s also extremely important to find a hobby and to not burn yourself out. Dedicate time to yourself and loved ones because it’s essential in the long run. Investing time in something completely unrelated to your profession is both satisfying and enriching. I began my hobby seven years ago when I entered the work force, and it’s been my rock!

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