Majors: History & Theology
Year of Graduation: 2009
Graduate School: I am earning my M.A. in Museum Studies from Johns Hopkins University. It is an online program, which includes an on-site seminar, and I expect to graduate in May 2014.
Currently, I work at the Minneapolis Institute of Arts as a Sales and Service Representative. My position is front-of-house and includes a range of responsibilities such as membership and ticket sales, data entry, answering questions about the museum and its collection, and administrative duties. Because I am in graduate school, I have been able to align my school projects to the needs of MIA. For example, I recently worked with the Audience Engagement Department to provide them with data on MIA's visitors to improve how the museum markets, engages, and serves its visitors. This was accomplished by evaluating an exhibition by timing and tracking visitors movements through the galleries, surveys, and post-visit interviews.
What path did you follow to arrive at your current job?
After graduating from St. Ben's in 2009, I spent the next year teaching ESL for a family owned non-profit in Japan. When I returned to Minnesota, I began working at the Science Museum of Minnesota in various front-of-house positions as well as volunteering in the collections. I also began working with CSB/SJU professor Annette Atkins on her newly published book, Challenging Women Since 1913: The College of Saint Benedict. My work for Annette was an oral history project, collecting and conducting interviews with St. Ben's alums, in order for the book to speak from Bennies' experiences. In September 2011, I began working at the Minneapolis Institute of Arts and, after a year, was asked to be a regular employee.
What advice/suggestions would you have for students who might be interested in your career?
My advice would be to have fortitude. The museum world is highly competitive, and it takes time to work your way up into the career you desire. I am still working towards becoming a curator at a history museum, and although the jobs I have worked at aren't the most glamorous, it is important to get your foot in the door. The museum world is quickly becoming multidisciplinary, and it takes experience and knowledge of the museum, from a range of perspectives (educator, administrator, curator, etc.), to excel. To do this, I would strongly recommend volunteering or interning, but this experience is also needed to acquire the career you desire.
What skills are important in your field?
Skills that are important to the museum field are being a clear and effective communicator, understanding the museum world and its growing concerns in the 21st century, knowledge of and experience in your specific niche, and technical training in computer programs. Having an administrative background is incredibly beneficial as the museum structure changes and evolves over time. It is also necessary for museum professionals to collaborate well in order to create dynamic and engaging programming and to truly foster the museum's mission.