Tuesday, June 26, 2007

Second Year Itch

As summer swings into high gear, I prepare to mark my second anniversary in my current position.

These two years have offered me the best education I could ever imagine, experiences that allow me to grow continually, and stability in my work life.

As of late, I’m feeling the itch to continue my education or experience some kind of change, this could stem from the fact I haven’t lived in one place for more than a year since I was a young adolescent. I love change, things in flux, and challenges. I thrive on deadlines, on stressful experiences, the new-job learning curve; I’m a glutton for it. It’s not like that doesn’t happen currently but everything feels too safe.

Don’t get me wrong I love my job, my colleagues, and the institution I work at. I look at my colleagues and some are marking their thirtieth anniversary at the Museum – that scares the blank out of me. I know the time will come where I’ll need to move on, but I feel like if I did – I’d betray them and this place – but I understand it’s totally unrealistic for me to think I could stay here for my whole career. Maybe that reveals something about my working environment – in this unfamiliar community where I can count my friends on part of one hand– my job is my identity, I work (and I’m sure many of you do too) more than a full-time job (which I do because I value this place and what we give this community) this position has wedged its way into almost all aspects of my life. My neighbors know me, a trip to the grocery store in the scrubbiest of clothing is always met with a familiar face; anonymity I once found so comforting is gone.

Grappling with this, I’ve looked into different graduate programs, each of them offering more questions than answers, I’ve talked with my director but I haven’t come to a solution. I don’t know what the right answer is, I’ve heard over and over that right is rarely the easy way. I just don’t know how I’d reconcile this with my high-esteemed colleagues or myself.

Advice or similar experiences, please share.


Amber said...

I went through the same thing three years ago, and after considering all of my options, I chose to go to library school. I have an MLIS with a specialization in Preservation Management, and it has opened a lot of doors for me.

Library programs can be very diverse. If you already have a museum background, a library degree can pair very well with it. It is particularly good if you're interested in registration or collection management, but there are also museum libraries and archives, as well as digital asset management. Also, library programs are more professional programs rather than academic programs, and in my case I found that it made it very easy to continue to work full time while going to school part-time.

lauren said...

Be careful. I've seen people leave jobs just because of the itch for change and the results weren't always great. I've seen people end up in completely different departments or fields (i.e. mainly development and membership) that didn't suit them.

If you pursue a master's, make sure that it will open the doors you want it to career wise and not leave you out in the cold with a lot of debt. That being said, a master's has become pretty much standard for most museum jobs and will make you far more marketable.

I've been in my job for four years, and there are definitely times when I have considered moving on. There are places that would have hired me without a master's and places that won't hire me because I don't have a master's. I finally decided not to get a master's in museum education because the debt would outweigh any salary increase, and as much as I would love some of those gigs, I can't afford that sacrifice. (I turned down the job that would have hired me because I would have had to move) Fortunately, I really do love my job and the people I work with, so it's all right for now.

My advice is that before you give a big chunk of change to a school, make sure you are going to get something in return.

Good luck!

Marina said...

After I graduated college, my parents pushed me to find a job as fast as possible. I can't say that I settled at the first museum job offer because I love my job, the museum and the people I work with. Although, I know now that I should have waited for a full time position to open in a department that requires more skill. So, I decided that going to graduate school would insure my ability to obtain a full time position in a museum. So, I went to grad school - I'm still in Grad school - I like it but ... two pieces of advice:

1. Don't dive into a program just because it's logistically convienient. Start a program that you know you'll love.

2. Don't leave your job if you get a salary with health benefits. Just go to grad school part time. I wouldn't leave such a good job.