Forging your Own Career Path in the Museum World

            As museum professionals, most of us are aware that our career paths do not follow a straight line. Unlike the majority of the corporate sector, where companies may provide a straight trajectory from entry, to associate, to manager, etc, career routes in the museum world may feel spotty and unconnected. There is often not a straight path to promotion and mobility, and it is up to us as independent professionals to determine where our next career step lies, whether that be expanding our roles in a current institution of employment, or transferring to another museum entirely to fulfill our goals.

Here are a few points to chew upon when considering how to plan your museum career.

      To begin, create a mission statement. What are your burning desires for your career? What are you passionate about? And what are the goals you want to reach, not only for yourself, but for others through your work? Write down these goals into a mission statement, and then just as a museum works continuously toward its mission statement, you too must vow to work within the frame of your mission statement. Read your mission over and over and stick to it. Put it like glue into your brain and analyze how your career motives and tasks fit into your mission.

      Grab some friends! The power of the people you surround yourself with is extraordinary. Meet with other museum professionals who share like-minded interests to discuss your career path and how each of you can support and learn from one another. Talking with people is also a great way to network!!! So, if you are on the hunt for a new job to fulfill that mission of yours, surround yourself with positive museum people and talk.

      Connect the dots. A lot of times it is easier to connect the dots in life in a retrospective view, whether that be for a career, relationship, etc. So, take stock of your dots. How did you come to be in the career position you are in? What would you change about the past career steps you took? How can you learn from these patterns to further your career in a direction you want to go? Connect those dots and learn from them so you can move forward in your career mission.

  Don’t be afraid to make a pivot. If you’re working in development, but long to work in education(or vice versa), make your mission, network, and connect those dots to make it happen. We all have such individualized career paths in the museum field, so we have to make our own individualized plans to achieve our personal goals. Whether it is moving to a new museum to start a new job, or expanding the current job you are in, make the path and stick to it with conviction.