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 firstname.lastname@example.org.
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.
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 email@example.com https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCpQwrySvN8yNBn9Tp5OgjkQ
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.”
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.
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.
Position: Committee Member
Position: Committee Member
Wendy says “engage youth while they are young, while there is still time to capture their attention”
Level One: Fourth Grade through High School
Level Two: High School through College
Level Three: Young Adults
This month’s questions, asked by Jessamyn Yenni, asks “What are the benefits to workers of being unionized? Why might the workers choose to have one or go without?”
Response from Jaclyn:
Unions matter because as workers, we can leverage our power towards improving our working conditions. I’m a graduate student at the University of Illinois at Chicago (UIC) and an activist with the UIC Graduate Employees Organization (GEO). We as UIC GEO negotiate a contract with the University that guarantees a minimum wage, benefits including affordable health care and paid personal time, protections against overwork, discrimination, sexual harassment, and more. Though most of our members are Teaching Assistants, every year several of our members work at theJane Addams Hull-House Museum and Gallery 400, making them part of a rare group of workers in our country — unionized museum workers.
As a unionized museum worker, I earned higher wages than my non-union counterparts (museum staff members who were undergraduates or not graduate workers at UIC) and had access to the above benefits and protections that they did not. And I had access to a formal grievance procedure for when the benefits and protections in my contract needed to be enforced. Union activities were a source of tension and fear for the museum’s administration. But I would always prefer to be part of a union. First, for the benefits, protections, and camaraderie. Additionally, for our part in strengthening working conditions across campus, and the workers’ movement writ large. And big picture: the higher wages and stability that union membership offers have the potential to make the field more accessible and sustainable for workers across lines of privilege.
This conversation was facilitated by Alyssa Greenberg from Museum Workers Speak
The National Emerging Museum Professional Network is looking for a few good members to join our leadership team!
You’ve seen our Annual Report and know we are ready to make big things happen in 2017. Because of this we have a LOT of work ahead of us and are looking to our members to help lead our efforts. We have several committees in need of people just like you! We are also recruiting for the position of Treasurer who will sit on our Governance and Executive Committees. If you are interested in joining our leadership team please click on the below links to find the right position for you!
Deadline for applications are December 2nd, 2016!
This month’s question, asked by Adrienne Turnbull-Reilly , asks “What is your experience trying to move not only jobs, but locations? Is it feasible or wise to take a temporary position in a new location in the hopes that a more permanent position opens up? Or is it better to remain in a stable job, while looking for a new gig elsewhere?” Sarah Mathews provides some insight into the challenges in moving for your career.
Passion for your work is important but so is being able to pay the bills! Moving is expensive, and you want a change like this to be worthwhile. It comes down to your priorities and what you’re willing to compromise.
Is the cost of living is cheaper in the new location? Do you have friends or family you could stay with rent-free? Are you miserable in your current job? Are you diligent about applying? Would you consider non-museum jobs to get to your desired location?
My search parameters were a full time museum position in New England. After a decade in the District, I wanted to move back north. While I was willing to compromise on time and content area, I was not willing to give up a full time salary and benefits without having a museum job lined up first. It certainly took a lot of time, but now I wake up every morning in a city that I love excited to go to work. It wasn’t easy to get to this point, but it was well worth it because I made informed decisions about what was best for my career as well as my emotional and financial wellbeing.
If you have a question or dilemma that’s been troubling you, click on this link to be redirected to a short submission form to pose your question to the Communications Committee. Your question may be featured in the next e-newsletter and the National EMP Network Blog!