EMPs at SEMC 2017

Here are a list of sessions and activities recommended for EMPs attending the SEMC conference in New Orleans this year.


Tuesday, September 12, 5:30-6:30PM: Join SEMC EMPs and students at 21st Amendment for happy hour at a bar that pays tribute to the Prohibition era in U.S. history. Network and meet new friends!

If attending the conference, feel free to meet in the Grand Ballroom Gallery to walk to 725 Iberville Street as a group. Find the Facebook Event here.

Session List for EMPs
Sunday, September 10, 7-10PM: Pre-conference Event at Presbytere, Louisiana State Museum
Monday, September 11, 1-2:15PM: “Membership Reboot: Redesigning Your Program”
Monday, September 11, 1-2:15PM: “Millennial Program Development: Exploring Options”
Monday, September 11, 4-4:30PM: “New Members/First Timer Annual Meeting Attendees Welcome”
Monday, September 11, 6:30-9:30PM: Evening Event at the New Orleans Museum of Art and the New Orleans Botanic Garden
Tuesday, September 12, 10:45AM-Noon: “Student Work in Museums (SWIM) Poster Session”
Tuesday, September 12, 10:45AM-Noon: “Cataloging and Organizing an Unruly Collection”
Tuesday, September 12, 2-3:15PM: “Spotlight on Student Work in Museums (SWIM)”
Tuesday, September 12, 3:30-4:45PM: “EMPs in the Round: A Discussion for Emerging Museum Professionals”
Tuesday, September 12, 7-9PM: Evening Event at the National WWII Museum and Ogden Museum of Southern Art
Conference registration required for all events except the EMP happy hour meetup. To register click here.

EMPs at MPMA 2017

Special EMP Events at MPMA’s Conference:

*EMP Happy Hour hosted by MPMA EMPs and Denver EMPs



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MPMA’s EMP Session Series is for those New to the Museum Field

If you are a student about to enter the museum field


If you are new to the museum field

You should attend MPMA’s 2017 EMP Session Series

EMP sessions are part of MPMA’s 2017 Conference

October 15-19 in Denver, Colorado

To attend these sessions, you must register for the conference

Register here:  Registration Form


We have all wondered what happens after graduation? How do I get a job or internship? How do I dress? What do I look for in an institution? Who do I ask for help?


MPMA’s series of EMP sessions will help you answer these questions while building your professional network. The series is designed to help you get a job or an internship.


You will have the chance to talk to directors to find out what they look for in potential employees and you’ll talk to recently graduated EMPs to learn how they landed their first museum job. One-on-one resume counseling will provide you customized assistance.


By attending these EMP sessions, you will make friends who will help you “Get out there” during MPMA’s Conference to meet potential employers and mentors. So sign up and take your first step into a larger world!


There are EMP Sessions for All Levels of Emerging:

EMP Level 1 – Students newly graduated/about to graduate/looking for their first museum job

EMP Level 2 – Professionals with 1-3 years of professional experience in the field

EMP Level 3 – Professionals with 3+ years at or near mid-career


Highlights of EMP Session Series:

EMP ORIENTATION:        Monday, October 16, 2017 (EMP Level 1)

EMP Happy Hour:                Monday, October 16, 2017   9:30 p.m.– 11:00 p.m. (All Levels)

EMP RESUME REVIEW:  Tuesday, October 17, 2017    (All Levels)

EMP Hiring 101:              Wednesday, October 18, 2017 (All Levels)


EMP Session and Event Schedule by Day

Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday


Monday, October 16, 2017

EMP Orientation    12:00 p.m. – 3:30 p.m.  

Aimed at EMP Level 1 for Students who will be entering the professional world but any level can attend.


The Orientation includes these four sessions:

EMP 1   12:00- 12:40- Lunch Meeting and Orientation: Introduction to MPMA and Building Your Contacts

The EMP orientation will introduce participants to MPMA, offer suggestions on how to create professional contacts, and navigating the transition from student to professional.


Presenters: Patti Wood Finkle, Director, Casper College Museums, Casper, WY; Valerie Innella Maiers, Professor, Museum Studies and Art History, Casper College, Casper, WY; Kristin Martin, Educator, Museum of World Treasures, Wichita, KS; Erin Brown, Curator of Collections, Colorado Territorial Museum Guthrie, OK


EMP 2     12:50 p.m. – 1:30 p.m.    Dress for Success and Interviewing Tips

In this session, we’ll cover interview tips, making a good impression and how to dress for success.         


Presenters:  Shaley K. George, Curator, National Orphan Train Complex, Concordia, KS; Casey Seger, Registrar, Deadwood History-Days of ’76 Museum, Deadwood, SD (MPMA Scholarship Class of 2014)


EMP 3     1:40 p.m. – 2:20 p.m.  How Did YOU Get There from HERE? Talk to Newly Minted EMP’s

You can get a job doing what you love! This panel of EMPs will discuss how they got their current positions and offer tips to help you get started.


Presenters:  Shaley K. George, Curator, National Orphan Train Complex, Concordia, KS; Casey Seger, Registrar, Deadwood History-Days of ’76 Museum, Deadwood, SD (MPMA Scholarship Class of 2014); Kristin Martin, Educator, Museum of World Treasures, Wichita, KS; Joanna Butterworth, Archivist, Oklahoma City National Memorial Museum, Oklahoma City, OK    


EMP 4    2:30 p.m. – 3:30 p.m.  Hiring 101: Internships

This panel of directors, hiring managers, and supervisors highlights what they look for in internship applicants. (aimed at students).  


Presenters:  Nathan Turner, Regional Director, Museums and Historic Sites, Colorado Territorial Museum, Guthrie, OK; Jamie Melissa Wilms, Director of Education, Molly Brown House Museum, Denver, CO; Katie March, Interpretation Coordinator, Golden History Museum & Park, Golden, CO  


EMP Happy Hour:   Monday, October 16, 2017   9:30 p.m.– 11:00 p.m.

Unwind after a long day of conference activities with a drink and food.  EMPs and EMPs-at-heart are welcome to attend and build community. No-Host Event.



MPMA-EMP Co-Chairs: Erin Brown, Curator of Collections, Oklahoma Territorial Museum Guthrie, OK; Kristin Martin, Educator, Museum of World Treasures, Wichita, KS


Denver EMP Chair:  Gillian Armstrong, Database Specialist, Children’s Museum of Denver, Denver, CO


Tuesday, October 17, 2017 –  For Any EMP Level

EMP 5   8:30 a.m. – 9:45 a.m.   Resume Building, Cover Letters, CVs, Individualized Resume Review

Writing a resume can be difficult. Learn what to include and how to arrange the information to create an outstanding museum resume. This session will also look at ways you can build and improve your resume for landing that job and how volunteering and other experiences can bulk up your resume. This is an opportunity to have a set of trained eyes review your resume. (Aimed at all level of EMPs)


Presenters:  Valerie Innella Maiers, Professor, Museum Studies and Art History, Casper College, Casper, WY; Katie March, Interpretation Coordinator, Golden History Museum & Park, Golden, CO; Michael Williams, Assistant Curator, Oklahoma Territorial Museum, Guthrie, OK


Wednesday, October 18, 2017 –  For Any EMP Level

EMP 6   8:30- 9:45 Hiring 101: The Good, the Bad and the Ugly

This panel of directors, hiring managers, and supervisors highlights what they look for in applicants. (Aimed at all level of EMPs)


Presenters:  Stephen L. Whittington, Executive Director, National Mining Hall of Fame and Museum, Leadville, CO; Nathan Turner, Regional Director, Museums and Historic Sites, Oklahoma Territorial Museum, Guthrie, OK; Jamie Melissa Wilms, Director of Education, Molly Brown House Museum, Denver, CO; Katie March, Interpretation Coordinator, Golden History Museum & Park, Golden, CO  


Register here:  Registration Form


EMP Orientation Coordinators:  

Co-Chair: Patti Wood Finkle, Director, Casper College Museums, Casper, WY (MPMA Scholarship Class of 2008);

Co-Chair:  Valerie Innella Maiers, Professor, Museum Studies and Art History, Casper College, Casper, WY

EMPs at Western Museum Association Conference

#WMA2017 will be held in Edmonton, Alberta this year.

As we all know, the field of museum work is continuously progressing, and you, as an emerging museum professional, are essential to these new ideas that are taking form. As an EMP you are faced with many unique challenges – mastering museum skill-sets, the current economic climate, increased competition, all while new trends are continuously emerging. There is certainly a lot to keep up with!

With this idea of the future in mind, the Western Museum Association’s (WMA) 2017 Annual Meeting Program Committee determined the many forward-thinking presentations within the over 40 overall sessions. Based the theme of UNITE, WMA 2017 will focus on the ways museums can unite across sectors, across communities, and across borders to work towards innovative and inclusive solutions to shared concerns. These sessions are broken out into seven interdisciplinary tracks including, Business, Collections, Community Engagement, Indigenous, Leadership, Technology, and Visitor Experience.  Much like many of the roles within your own institutions, each session incorporates multiple perspectives from across museum disciplines.

So why should you attend?

WMA 2017 will be a great opportunity for you to meet and network with colleagues and each other, in particular during the EMP Meetup, Speed Networking, #drinkingaboutmuseums, and multiple networking breakfasts and breaks. The sessions themselves have been thoroughly peer-reviewed and represent the most relevant and exciting topics in museums.

View All Sessions Online

See the 2017 Annual Meeting Preliminary Program

Attention Potential Museum Studies Students, Current Students, and Recent (and not so recent) Grads!

NEMPN has partnered with Museum Masters Review in an effort to determine what Emerging Museum Professionals are truly seeking in their college/university experience. Your submissions are anonymous, so please be as candid as possible. This is the first step in what we hope will be a long overdue discussion on what Museum Studies programs provide and what students really need in their education to succeed. Any questions/concerns can be directed to NEMPN president Michelle Epps at president@nationalempnetwork.org.

Complete the survey here.

Lunch with a Leader: Tallahassee EMP

Get to know a new NEMPN Chapter Each Month with “Lunch with a Leader”

We ask you to join us on your lunch break for this half hour sessions getting YOU more connected with a different NEMPN group each month. In our first session we will be speaking with Tallahassee EMP leaders Gabrielle Graham and Mary Fernandez! Have questions? Join the conversation for the last 10 minutes of the session to pose your most burning inquires.

You can watch the live stream on our YouTube Channel here.

Ask an Expert LIVE! with Sarah Connors from The International Preservation Studies Center

Join NEMPN for our first ever “Ask an Expert LIVE!”

We will be speaking with Sarah Connors Assistant Director at the International Preservation Studies Center in Mount Carroll, Illinois. She holds an MA in Museum Studies from Western Illinois University and a BA in History from Wartburg College. Her career has provided her with experience in nearly every area in the museum field including, curatorial, exhibition, collections management, visitor services, marketing, and administration.

The International Preservation Studies Center has provided hands-on preservation training workshops to museum and library professionals, conservators, and historic preservationists since 1980. IPSC offers over 75 short courses taught by world-class instructors from around the world.

Special note: IPSC is dedicated to preparing the next generation of museum professionals which is why we offer 50% off all courses to undergraduate and graduate students!

Watch on our National EMP Network YouTube channel and send in your questions to nationalempnetwork@gmail.com https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCpQwrySvN8yNBn9Tp5OgjkQ

Ask An Expert: Experienced Notes from the Museum Field – Professional Organizations

This month’s question from Erin Murphy asks,”It would be helpful for people to know other professional organizations (aside from NEMPN) for various kinds of staff in museums as well as regional associations.”

Suzanne Hale has over 15 years of experience as Registrar/Collections Manager at two university art museums, Colorado State University and Kansas State University. She has been an active member of the American Alliance of Museum (AAM) since 1999 and is the current Chair of the Registrars Committee of AAM.

Response from Suzanne:

The professional organization that has helped me the most with my career has been the American Alliance of Museum (AAM).  Many NEMPN members may already be familiar with AAM given NEMPN’s origins and past affiliation.  Regardless, I want to mention one of AAM’s major benefits:  serving all museum professionals. AAM provides educational programs and networking opportunities for curators, educators, exhibit designers, website designers, volunteers, preparators, directors, store managers, trustees, and more.  Its encompassing quality proves especially useful for smaller museums where staff members often have multiple job roles.  Staff members working within larger museum institutions where job roles may be more specialized can also benefit from participating in AAM, which encourages career advancement and provides members with an opportunity to investigate new and different roles in the museum field.  In short, AAM fosters professional growth to everyone connected to the museum community, wherever they are in their careers—emerging, mid-career, or senior level.

AAM has a membership of 35,000. Nearly 6,000 people attend the Annual Meeting each year.  But some people find the organization and its annual meeting too large to navigate; others find the cost of conference participation to be a barrier.  For those, I would recommend getting involved with one of AAM’s twenty-two Professional Networks (PN), which are volunteer-run affinity groups organized around job responsibilities and areas of common interest.  Within these groups, museum professionals can build relationships with other professionals with similar needs and concerns, while they grow their expertise, and give back to the field.

Particularly important for NEMPN members is that AAM partners with its Professional Networks to mentor new and emerging leaders and create an inclusive atmosphere that welcomes diversity in all areas of the museum profession.  At the AAM annual meeting, there are networking opportunities targeting EMPs, such as the First-Time Attendee Welcome and Networking Event where AAM staff help direct and guide new attendees through the conference.  Added in 2016, the Getting Started Series presents introductory information to help EMPs get a basic and practical understanding of selected topics. Another opportunity for EMPs at the annual meeting is the Emerging Innovators Forum. This program provides a venue for current graduate students or emerging professionals with less than five years working in the field to present topics related to an area of museum practice.  Another new program is the revamped Peer Mentoring Roundtables for colleagues to discuss career-related issues, a great place for EMPs to learn with and from each other.

For those who do not have the budget to attend the AAM annual meeting, I recommend getting involved in some of AAM’s local programming, or online professional development programs, many of which are offered in collaboration with one or more of the PNs.  And, you certainly do not need to attend the annual meeting to use the many resources found on AAM’s extensive website.  Sample documents are helpful in developing policy and understanding best-practices.  In addition, the website includes links to other sites about various museum related organizations and museum funding agencies.

I also encourage EMPs to get involved with one of the six regional museum groups: Association of Midwest Museums (AMM), Mid-Atlantic Association of Museums (MAAM), Mountain-Plains Museums Association (MPMA), New England Museum Association (NEMA), Southeastern Museums Conference (SEMC) and Western Museums Association (WMA).  The six regional groups were started by AAM for the purpose of holding regional conferences. They became independent non-profits in the 1970s.  In addition to the regional groups, many states have state museum associations that serve the needs of the museums and museum professionals in their area, especially those who work in very small institutions.  The six regional organizations and the state associations provide networking and conference attendance opportunities closer to home, which can reduce travel costs and time away from work.  Some museum professionals prefer working within these organizations because they want to build a local network of support.  It is nice to know resourceful museum professionals down the road to collaborate with on projects.  Building connections nearby can assist with various activities, such as coordinating themed community programs, lending and borrowing collection objects, recruiting expert consultants for multi-staff training sessions, and joining together for political advocacy and emergency planning.

In summary, I have found AAM, with its twenty-two Professional Networks, relationships with the regional and state associations, and a wide spectrum of museum colleagues, to be a great place to learn and grow as a museum professional.  AAM strives “to champion museums and nurture excellence in partnership with our members and allies” and I have enjoyed being a part of this mission.

Ask An Expert: Experienced Notes from the Museum Field – Contract Work in Museums

Charles Zange is an Independent Contractor working in Washington, DC

Charles Zange is an Independent Contractor working in Washington, DC

This month’s question asks, “In DC especially, there are a large number of contractors working within the museum system. What is it like working as a contractor? What are the advantages/disadvantages of contracting, and how do you find out about opportunities?”  
Response from Charles: Contracting is common in DC for many reasons, one of which is hiring efficiency. Contracting with an outside entity can help a federal organization pick up labor quickly without going through the entire HR hiring process. It also gives the flexibility of cutting back the labor force without having to reduce federal positions, as contracts are usually easier to terminate or to let expire than federal positions. A federal organization is also not required to cover things like health insurance for contracted employees, as the contractual relationship is entity-to-entity (company to company) and not organization-to-individual like with traditional hiring.

The complexity of contracting increases sharply when individuals contract independently. Individuals establish their own single entities as sole-proprietor companies using the SAM.gov service, and then take on entity-to-entity contracts with a federal organization. This type of contracting is particularly common in DC. In this way, the individual is a company of one staff member contracting with a larger federal organization. The individual is therefore responsible for paying quarterly taxes on their company’s revenue (their income), allocating funds for health insurance, etc.

The advantage of contracting, in my opinion, is really the speed at which a contract can be acquired. It is generally, but not always, easier to bid on a contract than it is to apply for a traditional federal position.This helps outsiders break into a field, exposing them to critical work without forcing them through the steep uphill climb of the federal hiring process.

Contract work can be very interesting and highly technical too, building considerable professional skill. The disadvantages, however, are very challenging: contractors do not have benefits and do not receive staff credentials. Contracting also tends to be feast or famine, where contracted hours bring in considerable revenue but dry periods without new contracts reduce income to zero. The instability is especially difficult for new entities.

As for finding contracts, this tends to be more art+network than science+Google. Many contracts tend to find their way to listservs through local universities or related interest groups, or even word-of-mouth. Organizations can either open contracts publicly for a bidding period (where entities submit competitive bids to budget a project) or they can go to a single entity and offer a direct contract without bidding. Long story short, some contracts will be widely disseminated, while others may only be discussed with a single entity. Bids are more common, especially for larger projects, as the competition encourages entities to shoot for lower prices in the hopes of winning the bid.