Sunday, March 26, Museum Council’s Emerging Museum Professionals Committee invites you to attend a one-day career workshop and symposium called What’s Next. What’s Next will educate those seeking arts, science, humanities, or hospitality careers on the wide range of museum work available in Philadelphia while providing them the skills and knowledge to enter the field.
Mikaela Maria, member of the Emerging Museum Professionals Committee, answered a few questions about What’s Next.
Museum Council: What is What’s Next?
Mikaela Maria: What’s Next is a one-day symposium that seeks to guide undergraduate students, graduate students, young professionals, and others through the process of finding employment in the museum field. This event is a way for the existing museum community to reach out to the next generation and help them set themselves up for success.
MC: Is this event just for emerging museum professionals?
MM: Definitely not! Even though What’s Next is put on by the Emerging Museum Professionals Committee it is not off limits to those who are established in their careers. Anyone who wants to update their resume, change fields, or who may be new to Philadelphia’s museum community and wants to network, is welcome. I think no matter your age, every one benefits from refreshing their resume and networking from time to time!
MC: What type of sessions can attendees expect to see?
MM: This event is a combination of our previous Hire Learning workshops, so attendees can expect to leave What’s Next ready to take on their careers with a renewed sense of enthusiasm and determination. In order to give our attendees a well rounded, multi-faceted approach to breaking into the field we’ll have panels with professionals who took more traditional career routes and those who will explain the weird, round-about ways they got into museum work. We’ll also have an interview prep panel, during which a variety of hiring managers will give invaluable advice and take questions about interview etiquette. Our professional development breakout session will feature an expo hall, free headshots, and a resume workshop, which will help attendees translate the skills they already have into marketable museum skills. For example, someone who has served coffee for the last few years has been honing their customer service abilities and might make an excellent front line staff member.
MC: How did you come up with the idea for this event?
MM: Honestly, I came up with the idea for What’s Next while I was lying in bed one night. I’d just read that Millennials are the highest educated and least employed generation in recent American history. It bothered me. I know too many intelligent, hardworking people who are stuck in minimum wage, minimal growth jobs because they have loans and bills to pay and no time or resources to job-hunt. They have no idea if going back to school will help them in their careers or saddle them with more debt. They are, understandably, not very trusting of our education system. This problem isn’t specific to my friend group; there are talented people all over the city who are working jobs that don’t recognize their potential.
The museum field, in my opinion, is the perfect place for personable, smart, problem solvers to get their start. However, I don’t think we’re always great at communicating this to the general public. There are institutions all over the city, all over the country really, that need dedicated staff, but I think sometimes people are under the impression that you MUST have an advanced degree to work for a museum- that’s just not true. I created What’s Next to peel back the assumptions people might have about our field – too academic, too inaccessible, a refuge for old, boring people- and show off who we really are.
Additionally, I’m inspired by the question, “what do you know now that you wish you’d known when you started your career?” These first few years of my career have been an incredible learning experience, but there are some things I wish I’d known earlier on. Like what professional groups to network with, where and how to get an internship, skills I should be cultivating, and how to choose and afford the right graduate program.
I’m hoping the professionals at What’s Next can pass on their knowledge to the next generation of museum employees. I’ve been lucky to have mentors who are invested in my career and I’d like to pay it forward.
Join us for What’s Next? on Sunday, March 26th at the American Philosophical Society Franklin Hall- 427 Chestnut St, from 9:00 am to 3:00 pm. Tickets are free for Museum Council Members, and only $5 for the general public. Click here to register.